Motherhood Literature + Art

How to Survive a Dictator by Kelly Cressio-Moeller

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→       Call your mother-in-law who lived through the Third Reich. She may tell you
           to keep a chicken, collect firewood from the graveyard, or burn the stamp collection 
           for warmth. All of these are valid.

→       Brush up on Russian curse words.

→       Never, ever have his name in your mouth. It is not worthy of your tongue
           or lungs & will cancer the air around you.

→       Understand nothing will be easy. Understand nothing is normal.

→       Find a way to forgive a family member’s vote. Note: this may take your lifetime.

→       Bring back spell-casting & voodoo dolls.

→       Extend a hand. Make bread. Make love. Laugh deeply & whenever possible.

→       Teach your children the word gaslighting, to smother its flame.

→       Be the voice of the targeted, beaten, slain. Both teach & learn from other

→       Contain scattershot bitterness & disillusionment—be an arrow: aim for
           true center.

→       Keep moving forward, but lie down & rest, often. Practice radical self-care
           on a global scale.

→       Retrain your eyes to love the color orange: nasturtiums, saffron dust across
           the palm, sunset at dusk as it marries the sea.

→       Remember fascists, too, eventually die; hate cannot be sustained indefinitely.

→       Praise the stars that your parents are gone & will not suffer this.

→       On the darkest days, steer blindly towards small joys: a leaf’s thread-thin
           veins, the charm of finches at the feeder, a rock in the shape of a heart.

→       Be ready. To become. Whatever. Is necessary.

→       Memorize this list—then set it afire.


Kelly Cressio-Moeller’s poetry is forthcoming in Radar Poetry and Poet Lore. Previous publications include Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle, THRUSH, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and ZYZZYVA among others. She is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets nominee and an Associate Editor at Glass Lyre Press.


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