MAKE ME

war paint

When I’m not telling people

I am the least competitive person you’ll meet

I shouldn’t have moved to America, I am an anathema

I am nevertheless, competing with myself

to survive

the breakage, subtle and merciless of my whole

appears to be my greatest talent

should they look me up in the dictionary

I would stare out bleakly at Consequences in Fetus of Nicotine In-Utero

it began before words were formed, a slow

incompleteness quite unlike the robust energies

of my relatives

a thin, wan girl, slow to learn, I made up for it by being sporty

denying the gnawing, gnarling pain in my stomach

was more than a night terror

swimming for medals was competitive after all but

didn’t feel so when, head under water, the cheers sounded

like waves breaking on distant shores, easy to forget

noxious rinse of chlorine in verruca filled inner-city

swimming pool where small measure of fame could be found

among cast-off plasters.

Beneath water I felt powerful, unmolested, not burdened

by sandwich of pain in my gut or how

no-one for me sitting among keening spectators

when I came up for air.

Since then, fantasy has been my succor, I can’t deny it

perhaps I have lived half in petri-dish and tree house

with ‘here be dragons’ written on its door.

When teachers told me; I wasn’t behaving like a good girl

I said ‘make me‘ and spent the afternoon kicking muddy

kid shoes against linoleum hallways

what do they think we imagine as, willful, disobedient, opinionated

we are shunted from our positions as ‘well behaved’ to the

shrine of sinners lost in plastic corridors?

We learn the company of other Reparates

is oddly comforting, no-one to remind us we cannot

make sense of numbers and still struggle with spelling

soon I gave up trying for A’s

locking lips with strange boys who wanted my best friends

instead of this disinterested girl

briefly kissing felt like swimming underwater

but coming up for air was much harder.

I am teleported now into a body and time I never imagined

surviving this long or sitting at this table, watching birds

battle their pecking order outside in a hostile green world

I rarely visit

it’s not reluctance or shyness, they have grown comfortable with

the shifting skin of me

something that happens when you begin to leach

that essence of youth and vigor

realizing, if you can make it out of bed today

you’re doing better than the day before.

I hear in my head, the scold of my mother

who believed I gave myself this illness

and much as they’ve told me that’s madness

I am often found returning to those words

as if they have some clammy power over me

which of course, they do.

I know I was well and then I was not

just like you can remember the day you lost your virginity

or survived a car accident or inherited a country cottage

it’s a day when colors and sounds change

in this case, terror walked into my throat

sucking on me, whispered; bitch, this is your new normal.

Fight as I may, these years have unfolded like those

paper flowers I used to buy in joke stores

put them in water and watch them bloom

only long enough before turning to ink and

wet tree pulp

it’s a form of flaying when strangers are kinder than

those you expect

angry with yourself for not learning sooner

expectation leads to disappointment.

This could be why I didn’t

enter many races or attempt to claw my way to the top (of what?)

better to stay low and wait it out until

you can have your turn

only sometimes, waiting uses up all the time you have left

then it’s almost too late and you have to change

everything.

Nowadays I compete with myself

can I cure the beast that’s become constant companion?

Will it matter if I do?

What happens afterward?

Fear is mauve and dives and swoops like unmated Mockingbird

I hear the kitchen clock and fast thud of my tired heart

Somewhere, I’m still the girl in the treehouse who says ‘make me’

perhaps one day it won’t be disappointment but

something lovely, I can only hope

though my body likes to punch me in the gut

as I fall asleep and try to dream

thump, thump, thump, my mother’s voice

this was something you did wrong

thump, thump, thump, my own voice

no it wasn’t this was an explosion taking the long way around

even getting half way there would be some kind

of accomplishment

which is why I always said it’s not about winning

but making the effort

to which I was told, that’s pretty negative foreign-born-girl.

Where’s your sense of spunk? I think I lost it somewhere between

throwing up for 4 months on end and the doctors saying

maybe it’s incurable…. ho ho ho …. you see

I’m not from here, I don’t belong

though where I came from I hardly know anymore

so I will forge ahead, outcast or survivor, pick a damn straw

with every passing year I realize

I can’t win, I but I will fight

MAKE ME I whisper to myself

bloody well try to MAKE ME stop.

 

The moral imperative

dont tread on me alabamaDon’t look away because you’ve already made up your mind

hang loose / stay nimble Kingfisher / remain open

this isn’t a soap box and I’m not ranting

this is a page among many pages and a thought among many thoughts

I hope you read it and T.H.I.N.K.

This is for the person who thinks women and girls shouldn’t have a choice

did I lose you with that last line? What happened to the certainty of your convictions?

If you are ready to condemn a rape or incest survivor to bearing their rapists child

and possibly having that rapist fight for custody/visitation and be awarded it

then consider how you might want to give me the time of day

before closing yourself off back to your old way of thinking

after all … I’ve changed my views many times based on EVOLVING

we don’t stay the same, we shouldn’t stay the same

life is not a vortex

so here goes …

What makes you believe a girl of 15 who is raped by her step father should

bear his child?

Because I hear you say on the radio; “The child is not to blame so we should not punish them by murdering them”

and the certainty in your voice

astonishes me

as I think of what it will feel like to be

raped at 15 by your step father, bear his child at 16 and then tell the child at 13 when she is old enough to know, who her father is

watch her face crumple

should that child never exist? She may go on to do great things that is true

But we are putting the rights and the acts of predators before the rights of that 16 year old

We are raping them again

We are telling them you may be an individual but you have NO right over your body

you were raped and now you are going to be given this life sentence

and your child will be too

and yes, that child may grow up to be something amazing

but sometimes we don’t need to know every eventuality

we just need to know what is wrong and what is right

and it is wrong to make a child bear a rapists child if they do not want to

just as it is wrong to give that rapist any rights over that child’s life

there is really … no punishment great enough for rapists and molestors

but we are going soft and we spend far more of our time

trying to undermine the rights of women and girls

and I have decided (call me paranoid if you wish) this is

a conspiracy against women and girls

and before you say “oh but other women think so too, it’s not just men!”

I will nod and agree, because I have seen and heard those other women

in fact one is my neighbor and she said; “I don’t understand why a person has to have an abortion they are just lazy because they did not use birth control”

and I wondered because she is a lovely person and quite bright

HOW she could think this and WHERE that judgment came from

but despite this, despite other women damming other women as they have always done

it is the masculine need to control women that is at the crux of this debate

it is the male led world (still) that tries to close its fist around women’s private parts

and tell her what she can do with her own body

and it is the misinterpretation of what we perceive God to want and dictate

that leads us to condemn, insult, hate, shame, loathe, obliterate

the rights of other women to do what THEY NEED TO DO

and sometimes what they need to do is

have an abortion

and it’s not only in the cases of girls who have been raped by their step fathers

but mothers and wives and adults and middle aged women

who for a variety of reasons have decided

as human beings they have the right to decide what to do with their own body

and if there were a war and there were two sides

and someone said to me; will you fight for our side

despite being a pacifist I would

because I have worked with the women and girls who have come to me and said

my parents did not let me have an abortion when I was raped by my uncle

I had to bear this child and that child grew up knowing I hated it

though I tried not to

and I was condemned again for hating the product of my rape

although I could not stop myself

too much of the burden is upon the women

and I do not think those grey haired men who sit in judgement

would wish to adopt my child of rape or your child of rape

I do not think they would wish to have a child of color

or a feminist or a lesbian as their child

I think they want to turn the clock back to when

women did not speak out or wish to assume any control

of themselves or their daughters

and yet

what they do not understand is

before their time

women were in control of themselves and their daughters

and they flourished

until they were defeated

but as with any battle

there can again be

a revolution

and I suspect the time is coming

when women will once more (they should not have to)

rise up they should not have to)

and say (they should not have to)

to their daughters and their sons (they should not have to)

this is not okay and I am not going to lie down and take it

and when that day comes

I will be part of that battle

and would die defending

the right of women and girls to do what they want with their own bodies

and those who will come at me with

what about the babies rights?

what about the rights of the unborn?

what about how murder is wrong?

will hear me reply

what about your cruelty? Enforcing laws

draconian and otherwise upon the bodies and souls

of women and girls

all because it comforts you to judge

others

rather than yourselves

and who is saying anything about

the men who get women and girls pregnant

and how often they do not want

to be saddled with a child

and this is my last thought on the matter;

What would men do if they were the ones who were

raped and abused and what would they do if they

could become pregnant and had to carry a child

and were told by women

oh you should carry this product of rape to term

and give it up for adoption because it is selfish of you to abort and it is murder

when there are so many childless couples who would be so glad of your

birthing factory abilities, sorry, I mean, unwanted child

what would men say if they were told

I am sorry you were forced to have sex and got pregnant

but you cannot have an abortion

be mindful of the sanctity of life in this overcrowded world

and shut your legs in future

the undertone, it is all in the undertone

and I say

if men were to wake up to that?

there would be abortion clinics on every corner like Starbucks

and that more than anything else tells you what you need to know

if you are still listening

and not assuming you know

what women should do with their bodies

because you possess

the moral imperative

 

1995 was

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long sweaters, color of grey clouds

wet wool beneath leggings and Docs

the way rain stayed in your hair and rinsed it of color

how you kept every love letter ever written

by all the little freckled girls who chased your dragon

we lay in your narrow bed

too small but small was what we were

breaking every splinter

in our roar and our mocking

you implanted a life

the telephone gave the news

my grandmother had given up pretending

perhaps the devil helped her

take that final breath

I couldn’t get a train

the rain the rain

you felt the despair of a boy who liked

the fur of drama

not the feel of fatherhood

her funeral was for two

the woman who had held me and said

what a pretty baby

when the rest backed away

like spectators unwilling to touch

and then there was the fetus

dry like a winter flower

red like a sore lover’s thighs

white like virgin snow covering

a crime

and the smell of damp

invading every corner of your room

ransacking hope

leaving in its wake

Smashing Pumpkins on low

sheets frayed and stained with youth

I did not return

you did not ask

it was accepted like an envelope is sealed

and black birds begin their fight

long after night has cast

her dark