Friday, February 3, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Beth Daniel

Close up image of a microphone on a stage. The audience that is facing the microphone is blurred, appearing as a myriad of colors (red, white, green, yellow, etc.)
As the incoming administration builds its agenda of attack on marginalized people, on freedom of speech, on the earth itself, poetry will continue to be an essential voice of resistance. Poets will speak out in solidarity, united against hatred, systemic oppression, and violence and for justice, beauty, and community.
In this spirit, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. For the rest of this frightening month, January of 2017, we invite you to send us poems of resistance, power, and resilience.

We will post every poem we receive unless it is offensive (containing language that is derogatory toward marginalized groups, that belittles, uses hurtful stereotypes, explicitly condones or implies a call for violence, etc.). After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to the White House.

For guidelines on how to submit poems for this call, visit the Call for Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience blog post


A Voice That Shakes:  A Letter to My Daughter Following the 2016 Election
by Beth Daniel

Dear​ ​Ella, 

There​ ​is​ ​a​ ​scar​ ​above​ ​my​ ​pubic​ ​area 
where​ ​you​ ​were​ ​pulled​ ​from​ ​that​ ​tiny​ ​opening. 
As​ ​I​ ​laid​ ​crucified,
bound​ ​to​ ​a​ ​cold​ ​metal​ ​table 
​you​ ​came​ ​into​ ​this​ ​world, 
screaming​ ​til​ ​your​ ​voice​ ​was​ ​shaking.
railing​ ​against​ ​your​ ​forced​ ​evacuation, 
I​ ​heard​ ​my​ ​voice​ ​in​ ​you​ ​then. 
My​ ​darling​ ​sprite,
you​ ​have​ ​the​ ​voice​ ​and​ ​you​ ​have​ ​the​ ​fight 

Fierce​ ​was​ ​the​ ​first​ ​adjective​ ​I​ ​used​ ​to​ ​describe​ ​you.  
Fiercely, you​ ​fought​ ​the​ ​swaddle, 
Your​ ​tiny​ ​legs​ ​and​ ​arms​ ​would​ ​flail​ ​about. 
You​ ​always​ ​escaped. 
You​ ​would​ ​not​ ​be​ ​confined.
You​ ​were​ ​born​ ​wild. 
You​ ​were​ ​born​ ​free. 

I​ ​knew​ ​then,​ ​as​ ​I​ ​know​ ​now, 
you​ ​were​ ​born​ ​prepared​ ​for​ ​the​ ​fight. 
I​ ​know​ ​this​ ​as​ ​y​ou​ ​stomp​ ​your​ ​feet 
declaring​ ​your​ ​toddler​ ​right 
for​ ​one​ ​more​ ​story​ ​or​ ​one​ ​more​ ​Doc.​ ​Mcstuffins. 
I​ ​know​ ​this​ ​as​ ​you​ ​demand​ ​to​ ​wear 
two​ ​different​ ​flip​ ​flops 
with​ ​socks 
in​ ​November.
I​ ​acquiesce​ ​saying,​ ​“Your​ ​body,​your​ ​choice”. 
And then my​ ​mouth​ ​drops​ ​as​ ​you​ ​repeat​ ​it.
A​ ​question​ ​first,​ ​“My​ ​body,​ ​my​ ​choice?” 
I​ ​smile​ ​and​ ​nod.
You​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​chant,​ ​“My​ ​body​ ​my​ ​choice” 
“My​ ​body​ ​my​ ​choice”, 
My​ ​body,​ ​my​ ​choice”. 
Then​ ​November​ ​8,​ ​2016​ ​happened. 
The​ ​boys​ ​that​ ​have​ ​stood​ ​in​ ​locker​ ​rooms​ ​being​ ​boys 
won​ ​the​ ​presidential​ ​election. 
As​ ​talk​ ​of​ ​pussy​ ​grabbing​ ​became​ ​excused​ ​as 
“locker​ ​room​ ​talk’
and​ ​excused​ ​as​ ​boys​ ​just​ ​being​ ​boys, 
my​ ​scars​ ​begin​ ​to​ ​open​ ​and 
this​ ​country​ ​drops​ ​acid​ ​into​ ​those​ ​scars.  
these​ ​scars​ ​were​ ​left​ ​by 
boys​ ​just​ ​being​ ​boys. 
Scars​ ​left​ ​by 
Dan​ ​in​ ​the​ ​6​th​​ ​grade.
in​ ​the​ ​​library​ ​at​ ​school 
he​ ​grabbed​ ​my​ ​newly​ ​formed-nothing​ ​to​ ​C​ ​cup​ ​overnight-breasts. 
Without​ ​a​ ​voice, 
awkward,​ ​a​ ​child​ ​in​ ​a​ ​woman's​ ​body, 
I​ ​allowed​ ​it​ ​saying​ ​nothing. 
While​ ​Dan​​ ​claims​ ​his​ ​victory​ ​in​ ​the​ ​boys’​ ​locker​ ​room, 
I​ ​cover​ ​by​ ​body​ ​in​ ​the​ ​girls’​ ​locker​ ​room. 
I​ ​learned​ ​the​ ​shame​ ​of​ ​having​ ​curves. 
Scars​ ​left​ ​by 
on​ ​the​ ​floor​ ​of​ ​his​ ​apartment 
as​ ​he​ ​raped​ ​my​ ​19​ ​year​ ​old​ ​body. 
I​ ​was​ ​silent​ ​for​ ​months​ ​after. 
When​ ​I​ ​finally​ ​spoke​ ​and​ ​told​ ​my​ ​mom, 
cheerleader​ ​for​ ​the​ ​locker​ ​room​ ​boys, 
she​ ​told​ ​me​ ​it​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault. 

Scars​ ​left​ ​by 
my​ ​boyfriend​ ​who​ ​spent ​4​ ​years 
calling​ ​me​ ​ugly, 
calling​ ​me​ ​fat, 
calling​ ​me​ ​stupid, 
and​ ​telling​ ​me​ ​I​ ​shouldn't​ ​write". 
I​ ​left​ ​him,​ ​but​ ​not​ ​before​ ​he​ ​left​ ​me​ ​merely​ ​a​ ​shadow​ ​of​ ​what​ ​I​ ​was.  
I​ ​was​ ​broken​ ​and​ ​I've​ ​spent​ ​years​ ​picking​ ​up​ ​those​ ​pieces.  

Scars​ ​left​ ​by 
a​ ​man​ ​I​ ​met​ ​online, 
a​ ​stranger​ ​I​ ​invited​ ​into​ ​my​ ​bed. 
He​ ​began​ ​to​ ​hurt​ ​me​ ​and​ ​wouldn’t​ ​stop. 

Scars​ ​left​ ​by 
A​ ​stranger​ ​on​ ​New​ ​Year’s​ ​Eve 
Drunk-I​ ​allowed​ ​him​ ​to​ ​pull​ ​me​ ​into​ ​a​ ​closet 
And​ ​force​ ​his​ ​dick​ ​into​ ​my​ ​mouth. 
It​ was​ ​my​ ​fault.  
I​ ​shouldn’t​ ​have​ ​dressed​ ​so​ ​provocatively, 
It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault, 
I​ ​shouldn’t​ ​have​ ​been​ ​with​ ​a​ ​man​ ​twice​ ​my​ ​age. 
It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault, 
I​ ​should​ ​have​ ​recognized​ ​the​ ​emotional​ ​abuse. 
It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault, 
For​ ​being​ ​a​ ​slut. 
It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault, 
For​ ​getting​ ​drunk. 

It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​fault.  
Boys​ ​will​ ​be​ ​boys 
who​ ​talk​ ​in​ ​locker​ ​rooms​ ​about​ ​my​ ​breasts, 
about​ ​my​ ​body, 
about​ ​what​ ​they​ ​are​ ​owed 
because​ ​of​ ​what​ ​my​ ​body​ ​did​ ​to​ ​their​ ​cocks. 

At​ ​least​ ​this​ ​is​ ​the​ ​message​ ​sent 
and​ ​the​ ​message​ ​that​ ​was​ ​perpetuated 
by​ ​our​ ​country​ ​on​ ​November​ ​8,​ ​2016. 

Weary,​ ​sick,​ ​and​ ​scarred  
I​ ​feel​ ​defeated  

Then,​ ​Ella,​ ​I​ ​hear​ ​you, 
Your​ ​tiny​ ​2​ ​year​ ​old​ ​voice​ ​chant,​ ​"my​ ​body​ ​my​ ​choice", 
“my​ ​body,​ ​my​ ​choice”, 
My​ ​body​ ​my​ ​choice”. 

I​ ​remember​ ​22​ ​year​ ​old​ ​me 
standing​ ​on​ ​the​ ​lawn​ ​before​ ​the​ ​Lincoln​ ​Memorial  
full​ ​of​ ​hope​ ​and​ ​revolution.  
Before​ ​those​ ​boys​ ​robbed​ ​me​ ​of​ ​that​ ​voice. 

I​ ​hear​ ​my​ ​voice​ ​in​ ​you​ ​again.  
I​ ​remember​ ​the​ ​voice.  
I​ ​remember​ ​the​ ​fight. 

So​ ​I​ ​pick​ ​up​ ​my​ ​spear. 
I​ ​sharpen​ ​my​ ​sword.  
I​ ​dust​ ​off​ ​my​ ​shield. 
And​ ​I​ ​head​ ​to​ ​that​ ​long​ ​forgotten​ ​battlefield  
with​ ​my​ ​tiny​ ​two​ ​year​ ​old​ ​warrior​ ​at​ ​my​ ​side.  

Dear​ ​Ella, 
may​ ​you​ ​never​ ​meet​ ​Dan​, 
that​ ​guy​ ​online, 
or​ ​that​ ​guy​ ​in​ ​the​ ​closet. 

If​ ​you​ ​do, 
please,​ ​remember​ ​no​ ​matter​ ​what​ ​society​ ​says, 
I​ ​have​ ​taught​ ​you,​ ​your​ ​body,​ ​your​ ​choice.  
You​ ​were​ ​born​ ​wild.  
You​ ​born​ ​free.  
You​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​restrained.  
Most​ ​importantly,​ ​you​ ​were​ ​born​ ​with​ ​a​ ​voice​ ​that​ ​shakes. 

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