Advocating

She used to tell other girls

Sista! Stand up for yourself!

And when others needed her voice

She lent her ROAR

Don’t be quiet and let them walk over you, she cautioned

But when it came to her own

She sat demure, a photo in old box

Doe eyed and blinking

Knees together, ironed hair

Palms touching in supplicate

Head keenly nodding on hot wire

Stomach lurching like unmoored ship, drunk on the dream of voyage

All the while

A scream building inside

NO! NO! NO!

I am not a number to be parceled and coded

Spat out and told, we have no answers, for we have no understanding of the soul

I FEEL and in the night, if you listen closely at my door you’ll hear me pray

To every spirit and four leaf clover, even, the lopsided rabbit in my arms

As time flickered away with each new day of sickness

She needed an advocate

To be her unguarded voice

Which had become lost

In all the twists and turns.

And the tall doctor

He was no mind-reader

He had his well rehearsed routine and could if needed, click his ankles in mid-jump

She wasn’t easy to label and dismiss

Nor did she want to be, a compliant good girl

She wanted to question until they dragged her out into the street

Writhing to the sound of her own outrage

That we are abandoned by medicine in our most desperate hour

Leaving unhealed like scabs, without voices, our ill tended shadows

She wanted to understand

And find ways that didn’t involve dependency upon pills

He was a blonde marionette, testing his overbite

Talking in her head, Yak yak yak

The sound of chomping wood and splinters for lunch

She heard no future

Unless she spoke up

But where was her tongue?

Where had it gone?

La femme du tigre

6a0105356c398f970c0133ed4b470b970b-piA woman

may forget she is a woman

tear into another woman

becoming an ivory toothed tiger

when she has supped too long on the notion

she is without force unless she bites or rips the entrails

of those who may attack her first

and this woman

she does not understand yet

the color of doves and their cresting message

nor the many mistakes leading her to believe

she is a tiger in need of feeding on her sisters

those girls who should be under her awning

defiant beneath banded join

she forgets because she is afraid

she omits because she is scared

her time will come and others …

women who are also tigers

will eat her in juicy pieces with succulent delight

I tell this striped woman

put away your magnificent teeth

come and hold me high

together we are taller

we can clamber on each other’s shoulders

teach the other women who think they are tigers

who must bite and stifle our journey

it is better for women who are tigers

to earn our stripes by supporting the world

paw by paw

for we only keep ourselves down in fear and confusion

when we snap at the truth

we are as free as we want to be

the chains we think exist are our own

no man owns a woman

no woman can ruin another woman

if we promise to respect each other

if we hold back permission for cruelty

lower our arching back and offer

come ride with me I will see you to safety

it is just a short way over the mountain

we can make it if we ride there

together

The clamor of our substance

woman-roaring

Go with the swallows

in last leaving light

submerging beneath

ancient vowels aching to

disperse into stars

surely as we stare

into knowing skies

seeing reflections of ourselves

incantations of former lives

where our shouts are heard

by the starling and the night birds

roosting beneath our dreams

surely, as we reach

to learn the meaning of such things

urged by the wistful lingering

adrenalin beneath our felt

stirring such courage to bear

another day, another question

cruelty may linger her long face

set against the timer like a watchful

scold may taunt the slower chase

still she has but fleeting power

when in another day another place

we rise

thundering on our heels

toward the mouth

where our claims are heard

on the itch of truth

scattering us wide

we are invisible

until woken

when we stride

wide and fruitful

the clamor of our substance

revealing in each birth

another head to count

one more female willing

to set her flame on high

and stir

in quiet formation

the centrifuge of life

in the shape of us