A House Divided

It’s Monday which means I’m sharing some of my older poetry with you. In response to the fear, pain, surprise, and divisiveness of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I and some other activists in Brattleboro, VT created a post-election action to generate conversation across the lines that divide us. Featuring the spoken word poems “Masquerade” (by Prosperous) and “A House Divided” (by me), this action incorporated masks and movement as we reflected on where we’ve been, where we are, how we got here, and where we are going. We performed the action in December 2016 at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT and in downtown Brattleboro. Watch the performance at SIT here and in downtown Brattleboro here.
–In solidarity, The Vocal Poetess

A House Divided

Division existed from the beginning,
with people whose lives were deemed less than worth living.
There’s always been an upper caste
and a lower class
and hordes of people in between.
And what remained unseen
were the ways in which we
were pitted against each other,
outfitted with weapons to wage war against each other,
taught to mistrust, fear, and hate each other.
Deceived until we believed
both consciously and unconsciously
that for you to be free
meant that I would not be.
That for you to have
meant that I would have not.
That for you to be able to rise
meant that I would be denied.
That you were taking from me,
that you were making me less free,
that you were the problem
because you were here, in my sights.
You were the easiest barrier to fight
because you were in my face
trying to take my place
at the table of freedom and opportunity.
But it didn’t occur to me
that the table was big enough for all of us,
that there was room for all to eat.
I only saw what I wanted to see.
You were the representation
of all my anger and frustration.

And at first it was your group of people
and then you were deemed acceptable
so some other segment of society
had to justifiably take your place
to be the face
of the other
to be “those people”
to be less than people
to be the epitome of evil
to be broken until they were spent
and so on and so forth we went
years upon years
tears upon tears
backs upon backs
until someone said, “Stand up, fight back!”
And we began to rise,
slowly at first, one at a time,
reaching to the person behind us
saying, “Who can break the ties that bind us?”
Praying, “Let love be the tie that binds us.”
We started to see through the haze
began to recognize the ways
we were hurting each other
smothering each other’s souls
with the soles of our feet
as we scrambled up the ladder to be free.

But we didn’t know what to do about it
how do get around it
so the masks came out.
Sometimes they were about protection
sometimes deflection,
a way to face rejection
without having to reveal our brokenness.
Sometimes we didn’t know we were wearing them
they felt like our own skin,
the way they molded to our faces,
fitting in all the right places.
Sometimes we were told to wear them
and then they didn’t fit so well
but we obeyed because they would yell,
“No one would love you
if they knew you.”
Or more calmly they’d say,
“It’s better this way.”
So we masked up and added on the layers
sometimes finding another player
in this game of life
who we felt was just right,
was worth the risk,
worth the immense task
of taking off that first mask.

It was slow progress we made
and with each new wave
another group found themselves welcomed
and loved and affirmed and held.
Yet with each new mask unveiled
those old fears started to resurface
the old voices whispered,
“They don’t deserve this.”
We looked around and didn’t recognize each other
so we put on more masks which made us bolder
to say things we didn’t think we’d say
to change in ways we didn’t think we’d change
to hate people we didn’t think we’d hate.
What some saw as progress
others so as regress.
What some saw as freedom
others saw as a prison.
And so we hid behind our politics and positions,
our old habits and new superstitions
and we went back to people who were like us
who lived in places we lived
who had the same faces we did
who believed what we believed
who felt the same kinds of fears
who cried the same kinds of tears
who prayed like us
who ate like us
who felt rage like us.
And we forgot about everyone else.
It became us and them once again.
Division existed from the beginning,
it’s always been a part of our story
but it doesn’t have to continue to be,
we have another choice.
What’s done is done but we still have our voice.

Find one person who hasn’t felt pain,
who hasn’t felt fear, anger, or shame
who hasn’t hated or been hated
who hasn’t cried or known someone who died.
Find me someone who hasn’t felt hunger
who hasn’t felt alone, misunderstood
Stood upon, stepped on.
Honestly, find me someone who doesn’t bleed
like you do
who doesn’t need to breathe
like you do
who doesn’t need to eat
like you do
who doesn’t want to be freed
like you do.
Find me someone who isn’t perfectly imperfect
who isn’t flesh and blood and bones and tissue
who isn’t at the molecular level the same as you.
Find me someone who doesn’t have needs
they would do almost anything to meet.
Find me someone right here in this street
that when you look into their eyes
you can deny their humanity,
their dignity, their right to be.

Seek the hand of someone beside you.
Welcome the hand of someone behind you.
This is the start of something new,
a safe place in the midst of the chaos,
a proclamation that it begins with us.
Do we move forward in fear?
We decide.
Do we move forward in love?
We decide
Do we move forward alone?
We decide.
Do we move forward together?
We decide.
These are your neighbors,
these are your people.
These are your neighbors,
these are your people.
Say it, “You are my neighbors,
you are my people.”
All we have is each other.
All we have is moving forward.
There is no going back.
Let’s get off the attack.
Chins up, shoulders back.
It’s time to take off
these masks.

 

Soul Tending

Be kind and gracious to yourself,
allow yourself the space you need
to feed your soul
to heal, to grow,
know that you are worth it,
all of it.

Be patient with your process,
don’t obsess about getting it right
or being perfect.
Forget about comparing yourself to others,
the only fair comparison
is to who you used to be.

Tending to yourself isn’t selfish
as some would lead you to believe.
Don’t be deceived,
if you cannot love yourself
cannot care for yourself
cannot be there for yourself
cannot be patient or gracious
with yourself,
how can you be all those things
fully, for someone else?

 

Why I March

Good Morning friends! It’s Monday which means I’m sharing some of my older spoken word pieces. I wrote this one a year ago about why I participated in the Women’s March.
— The Vocal Poetess

* * *

Why I March

They asked me why I march,
what it meant to me,
to be a protester,
a tester of the waters,
a woman and a daughter.
And the first thing I’ll say
is that my choice to march on Saturday
was so much bigger
than my gender identity or female-ness,
than the fact that I have breasts and a clitoris,
(although this act of solidarity
should go much deeper than biology)
than the heartache
of coming so close to breaking
that last ceiling made of glass
only to have my hopes dashed
and shattered instead.

Yes those identities are important to me,
foundationally and otherwise,
and I realize my womanhood
is sacred, is holy.
It holds me
in connection with the tides and the moon,
the womb of Mother Earth
and all those who give birth to life.
Yes I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife
and damn proud to be all the above and more
but those aren’t the only things I march for.

I march because white women like me
voted this man into the presidency
and I can’t let that be our legacy.
White women like me
have chosen our racial identity
over the sisterhood,
have stood on the necks and backs
of our black and brown sisters
dismissed her and them when
our privilege felt threatened.
When we felt called out or outcast,
we cast the dice in favor of the color of our flesh,
neglecting our common female-ness.
We white women claimed feminism
and took offense when women of color
pointed out another one of our blind spots:
our lack of intersectionality,
the fact that we acted as if our reality
was the same for all women,
that we spoke for all of them.
And when reminded of how skin tone
and economics, sexual identity,
and body politics came into play
we white women got up and walked away.

I march for clarity of vision
because the incision the election left
cut too deep, too close to the bone.
Because the backbone of Congress is weak
and broken and until the people have spoken-
not the electoral college,
not the white men who lack knowledge
and restraint, who paint
this nation as an island, a citadel,
in whose bowels dwell the beast
unleashed to expel all infidels
and come hell or high water,
slaughter the American dreams
of anyone who seems too dangerous,
too threatening,
be it the deafening cries of the refugee fleeing violence,
the undocumented worker forced to feast on silence
the black woman raising her fist in defiance,
the Muslim who prays five times a day that they
won’t be seen as a terrorist,
the trans person who has to continually insist
on their right to piss in their restroom
and the list
goes on.

I march for freedom and unity,
like this brave little state taught me,
because this, all of this,
is so much bigger than me.
It’s about human dignity,
solidarity,
you and me,
intersectionality,
the reality that we all share the same home
and we can’t progress
when we walk alone.

I march because I refuse to believe
that the fight is over and done with,
with all due respect,
that notion is bullshit.
I know who won the presidency
and he does not represent me
or the millions in the human family
around the world
who unfurled banners and sheets
and took to the streets to march too.

We march because we believe
in the ability of one, of two,
of a thousand or just a few
to shake things up and upend the system,
turn walls into bridges and ridges into cisterns,
to reverse the world order,
reach across human-made borders
to shift the axes of power
make the powerful cower
and build the kind of movement
not even the strongest hate can devour.

I march not because it is the best I can do
but because it’s what I can do
right now
and the rest is still coming,
this is just the first test,
just you wait and see what’s next.

 

I Am From

As I transition from my old blog, SeekThePeace, to this one, I will be posting some of my old poetry on Mondays. This is actually the first spoken word piece I wrote and it explores my view of change using the “I am from” format. I’ve included an audio file because I feel that poetry is more powerful when it’s read aloud. Please feel free to listen while you read. I also encourage you to try your hand at using this format too and share what you come up with.
Much love,
The Vocal Poetess

* * *

“I Am From”

I am from Pennsylvania farm land,
and the smell of fresh spread manure
sure to burn nostrils
on the school playground
where uniforms marked gender, age, space, time
stood still, moved slowly,
too fast and not fast enough.

I am from mountains
valleys, hills, meadows
toes digging deep into grass and dirt
earth and green spaces that called
to my heart, spirit, lungs, legs
begged me to be free
green spaces that call to me still.

I am from East Baltimore Street
the white house with the pines
behind whose blinds love resided
confided in the strong arms of family
that pulled me in
held me close
hold me still.

I am from playing in the trees, bruised knees
“It’s getting dark come inside please”
Mom says.
her voice made everything all right
despite when it could not
give an answer for why cancer
tried to rob her of her light.

I am from questions
of an eight year old’s fears
tears betraying my façade of strength
as I tried to emulate hers
“Will you die?” “Will you lose your hair?”
I could not bear
the thought of it.

I am from family
and love above all else
from grandmas’ kisses and pappys’ laughter
after family dinners around the table
unable even now to admit
that death comes too quickly
to those we love most.

I am from Mennonite land
of peace and nonresistance
insistence on four-part harmony singing
bringing casseroles and baked goods
and, my goodness, how can a denomination
with foundations of peace
leave my childhood church in shambles.

I am from community
bonded by common threads
of reds and blues and yellow hues
all the bright and dark colors
of seeking, searching, longing
finally belonging
here.

I am from the city
the rumblings of subways and trolleys
all these familiar sounds and sight
seeing people in all their vibrancy
curiosity, diversity, rawness
all this
is life.

I am from women
whose bodies were commodities
kept hidden forbidden sin ridden
until that holiest day of days
when she trades in her purity prize
and the guise
is lifted.

I am from contradictions
convictions
women who refused to be victims
even when our sacred souls, bleeding
were greedily ripped out,
screaming
from between our very legs.

I am from dark places
hollow spaces
shoe laces dangling
over a subway platform, canyon,
bridge over a stream
dreaming of jumping
but still afraid to fall.

I am from desperation
from a handful of pills
hospital bills
cold floors, metal doors
and therapists’ offices where
questions like “Now what do you want me to do for you?”
rang hollow in my ears.

I am from acceptance
of myself
esteemed in my eyes
sure of my worth
while being grounded
astounded, unbounded
by loving me
he’s free to love me too.

I am from liminal space
somewhere between wounded and whole
wholly succumbing or coming alive
between inward loathing and outward exploding
between knowing and not
between wanderlust
and lusting for home.

I am from love
and all its questions, suggestions, reflections
of what was, what is, and what could be
and that is home
home is love
and there is no other place
I’d rather be from.

Birthdays/Put All the Candles on Your Cake

Lit candles with ribbons on a birthday cake

I don’t know who
invented the unwritten rule
that women aren’t supposed to like birthdays
or share their age,
“I’m 29 again!” we’re supposed to say,
shaving off years,
staving off fears of someone realizing
the truth.
As if our age is a secret we get to keep,
as if people can’t see,
as if paying no heed to the obvious
makes it less so.

But I’ve never been into that
and perhaps it’s because I’m still young.
“Just you wait,” someone once told me,
“You’ll hate birthdays too.”
But I refuse to think that’s something
I’m destined to do.
Instead of singing those old birthday blues
I’m humming a different tune,
one of gratitude,
an attitude of joy and hope,
dipping my toes into the pool of possibility,
unabashedly celebrating me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve battled suicide and won
maybe it’s because my mom
and dad always had cake and flowers
and showered me with love and gifts.
Maybe it’s because I’m uplifted
by simple affirmations and well wishes.
Maybe it’s because I love any excuse
or season to treat myself.
Whatever the reason,
I love birthdays and I hope that never fades.

With age comes wisdom and stories
and, similarly,
our bodies tell their own narratives
of the lives we have lived
each wrinkle and laugh line
as sublime as vast landscapes
shaped by the winds of time,
as telling as tree rings
singing of growth and swelling with memory,
and the oath we take on our birthday
is to say,
“I’m in awe of this sacred body
that holds me
and the journey we are on
which dawned on this day
of my birth is worth
the celebration, the graduation
from one chapter to the next.”

I still mourn change
and the growing pains that come with age.
Life’s pages turn too fast
as present quickly becomes past
but the last thing I want on my birthday
is for society to dictate
what and how I celebrate.
And I hope you can also shake
the weight of that burden.

So on your next trip around the sun,
you run the show,
show yourself a good time,
never mind what others say,
put all the candles on your cake,
take lots of pictures,
picture yourself living the life you love
and above all else,
put those voices on the shelf
that tell you what you’re supposed to do
and simply celebrate you.

Save the Apology

It’s Monday which means I’m sharing some of my older poetry with you! Content Warning: this one is about the sexual assault I experienced in college and I wrote it in response to finding out a powerful person at that college was sexually abusing young women. You can read the fully story of my assault on Our Stories Untold (OSU), as well as watch a video of me performing this poem in April 2016 OSU (now merged with IntoAccount) is a wonderful, supportive space where survivors and allies can share stories, cry together, love together, advocate for one another, and hold institutions and individuals accountable. Love, light, strength, and courage to all you survivors and supporters of survivors. You are not alone.
–The Vocal Poetess

* * *

“We’ll do better next time.”
“We’re so sorry.”
It’s the same apology after every
heavy indiscretion, forced confession,
by one of their own comes into the light.
After nights of lurking beneath the surface
the lip service they now pay
is a way to diffuse the “issue,”
“Here honey, have a tissue.
But please don’t ask us for empathy
or accountability, assistance,
in this instance our hands are tied
we had no idea the monster he was inside.”

Nobody wants to admit fault
when it comes to sexual assault
and the ways in which its downplayed,
displayed, smoothed over, pushed under
the rug, “Oh she was on drugs,
wore something too short, too tight
she’d been drinking that night.”
And so what if she was,
so what if she did?
Let’s stop the shaming
that is victim blaming by naming it
for what it really is:
your own fear that you may have just fucked up
or been found out
so you raise doubts
about her character and actions
in hopes that the factions
it creates will shift the focus on her
and not your bogus excuses for the abuses
she suffered at your hands.

You bet on your friends and institutions
to come up with solutions for your absolution
and you counted on her silence
to somehow equal compliance
with what you did.
But you didn’t count on this.
You didn’t count on the power of her voice
to rock the earth to its core
to toss waves onto the shore
her emotions calling up a tide
as deep and wide as any ocean.
You didn’t count on generations
of her people to create a nation
from every corner of creation
to undergird her, surround her,
ground her in her truth and boldness,
they hold this
with her when she can
and for her when she can’t.

You may not ever admit or even say
that what you did was rape
but that does not make
my truth any less sacred or true.
I told you “no” and you chose
to silence me with your vocal blows
and the power of your body over mine.
And when I confronted you that time
to find out why you did it
your response was,
“How could I have raped you if I didn’t even finish?”
The fact that you raped me
is not dependent on you cumming
or not
on whether you enjoyed it
or not
on whether you thought
I enjoyed it.
It’s about what I consented to
and you knew
that you didn’t get my yes
which is why you choose to profess
and protest the rape you committed
in such rage and lividness.

And I hate to admit to me
that I have to see your humanity
is somehow connected to my own
but, my God, my being groans
at the thought of it.
I’m enraged and I want you to know it
and I show it because I’ve held it in for far too long
it doesn’t belong inside me
where it festers and burns
turns me into someone I don’t recognize.
Your lies will not bring my demise,
oh I’ve thought of suicide
on the worst days
and been dazed and depressed on the best
but you won’t get the rest
of me
I’m setting you free.
Be gone.

And for those who hid your actions
and caused distractions
from the truth,
I have words for you too:
I’m calling bullshit
on your counterfeit lines.
Don’t do better next time.
Do better now
so next time
won’t be allowed
to happen.

We can do better

You Come for My People, You Come for Me

It’s Thursday which means new poetry! Two of my good friends faced difficult, unexpected hurdles this past week. This poem is for them, my people. — The Vocal Poetess

* * *

You come for my people,
you come for me.

Conservative media sites
from those with far right, alt-right,
“White is might” views
to the likes of Fox News
(is there even a difference between the two?),
attempt to discredit
(though they haven’t even read it)
the well-researched works
of black and brown writers,
by lighting fires
with pull quotes and quotation marks,
in hopes the sparks they create
will leap into flames of hate,
that will “make America great” again.
But when they sharpen their knives
and dive head first
with bloodthirst in their eyes
into deeper and dirtier lies
need I remind them:
You come for my people,
you come for me.

Liberal institutions and bodies
whose new policies
leave deep craters
when key co-creators and educators,
dedicators of years
of their blood, sweat, and tears,
are no longer revered
but left jobless
with less notice or words
than what they truly deserve
for all the time they have served.
When those who claim to be socially just
break trust for financial gain
and the changes that ensue
seem to undermine what they value,
need I remind them:
You come for my people,
you come for me.

You see,
you don’t have to share my family tree
or genetic ancestry to be
my people.
Our shared identity,
our solidarity,
in the fight for what’s right
and just
is more than enough.
While it may be tough to keep going
knowing what is against
or behind you
when you find you’ve been
knocked off your feet,
defeat closing in,
the wins overwhelmed by the losses,
and the causes is
attacked from all sides,
when the tides keep turning
and you’re yearning
for the storm to cease,
for the warmth of peace,
believe in me,
believe in we.
For when life tries to bind you,
I’m here to remind you:
They come for my people,
they come for me.

Spring Time Blues

It’s Monday which means I’m sharing some of my older poetry! This is another one in my series about sexual harassment.

* * *

It’s that time of the year once again
when the leaves are sprouting from the trees
bees buzzing on the budding blossoms
and the weather has me feeling awesome
until you come along.

Sometimes you’re with a group of friends
in the park or the end of my sidewalk
gawking at me as I cross.
Other times you’re coming out of a store
or lurking on the corner alone
it really doesn’t matter though
because your tone
is always the same:

“Hey baby, looking good.
I wish you would
sit on my face,
give me a taste.”
Or you make some perverted sound
with your mouth
some grotesque gesture or movement
with the intent to get my attention.

Or you yell from across the way,
“Hey beautiful, wanna make my day?”
and you expect my dutiful
reaction to be, “Awww thank you.”
And maybe I’ll throw in
a few giggles or a grin
just to prove the state you put me in.

But if I choose to ignore you
or worse yet, reject your advances
your stance is no longer sugary sweet,
it changed to anger and hate in a heartbeat.
“Bitch. You’re ugly anyway.
There’s no way I’d fuck you.”
Aww well now I’m really upset
because the whole reason I got dressed
was so I could walk down my street
and hear you say shit to me.

You think you’re a man because you stand
in the street yelling obscenities
to any piece of meat or ass
that happens to pass by
all just to prove to your friends
that you really can
get the attention of a woman.
Or may it’s to compensate for–
wait, let me not stoop to emasculate you
you’re doing that own your own, boo.
Or maybe your intention is just to work
so you have something to jerk off to
at the end of the day.

But it’s all a just a power play
and, anyway, we see right through you.
You really think your catcalls
make me want to do you?
Honestly, when you ask me
to sit on your face
you really expect me to say,
“Sure, name the time and place?!”

No, all you want to show me
is that you own me
and that I owe you gratitude
for your attitude of “sweetness.”
But get this,
I owe you nothing.
You don’t own me
any more than you own this street
or this air or this sidewalk or these stairs.

Grow up, have some respect
women aren’t objects.
You should have learned that by now
and, anyhow, what would your grandma
or mom or sister say
to hear you speak to women this way?

So next time you see me coming
and you really want to something,
swallow your words,
savor their bitter flavor
do us all a favor,
and don’t.

DSC_0547_905
An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.
DSC_1273_905
An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.
9
An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.
pat
An image from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art series Stop Telling Women to Smile.

“Not All Men”

Ok, so I said I’d post new poetry every Thursday but I’ve been processing a situation where I was sexually harassed at work and this poem just can’t wait a week. Listen along here.
— The Vocal Poetess

* * *
It started relatively small,
relatively benign
as often times these things do.
You
would bump into me where I was standing
and your hand would graze my backside
and I’d let it go,
forgoing the warning signs in my mind:
Maybe it really was an accident,
he probably meant nothing by it.

But then you’d try it again.
And then you’d become more bold
and hold your hands on my hips
as you dipped behind me,
seizing an opportunity
to use a crowded space as a place
to slide your dick across my ass
in the pretense of just “passing by.”
“Coming through,” you’d say
as you’d have your way with me,
freely rubbing your disgusting manhood
(should I even call it that?!)
across the back of me.

And what did I do?
Nothing.
Not a damn thing.
And I am stinging with rage
and mountains of shame
and blame for myself
because of your selfish ways.
All day I chided myself,
beating myself up
for not speaking up,
for not uttering any words,
but would you have heard
them anyway?

The truth is you didn’t need me to say,
“Stop!” or “Get off!”
for you to know it was wrong.
And all along,
I’ve been putting that on me,
Oh he couldn’t see
how bad his behavior was
because I never told him.
Yet again another victim
blaming herself for the sins
of the harasser
and after all was said and done
you thought you’d won.

And I resent that
and you
and the slew of men
who continue to do nothing,
choosing cowardice,
acting as if they don’t notice.
Well I’m sick of this bullshit.
I’m done with pretending,
I’m ending that foolishness
and I insist you do the same.
When you see harassment
call it out by name,
it has no place here
or anywhere.
Stop letting fear dictate–
I’m not here to placate you.
Do better.
Men, I’m talking to you.
Do
better.

And you’d better not contend by saying,
“Not all men!”
Because if I said it once ,
I’ll say it again:
Stop passing the buck
or shucking your responsibility.
I see way too many men
content to sit back in silence
while violence happens all around them
and then they have the gall,
the wherewithal,
to say they are
“one of the good ones.”
Since when do you get a gold star
for something you haven’t done?
Sorry to spoil your fun
but no one gets off that easy.
Oh, so you’re not sleazy?
Well, good for you!
What address should I send
this gratitude check to?

Look, I don’t want you
to assume I’m not glad or relieved
that you aren’t avidly
“grabbing women by the pussy”
(which is more than I can say
for our commander in chief)
but that’s not enough for me.
Until you can be
part of the solution
you’re part of the problem.
And until then
miss me with
“Not all men.”

Take a Seat

Welcome! As I get this blog off the ground, I intend to post new poetry every Thursday and share some of my old poetry every Monday. This poem is part of my series on sexual harassment.

* * *

I hear men complaining these days, saying
“I can’t be paying women compliments
without them claiming sexual harassment.
My intent is flattery and it bothers me
that women can’t see that.
As a matter of fact,
I’m afraid that a compliment paid
will be made into a lawsuit.
What can I say or do
without it being misconstrued
or used against me?”

You want to know what you can do?
You,
really want to know what you can do?
For starters, you
can stop making this about you.
Boohooing about women misconstruing
your compliments and doings.
You’re pursuing sympathy
but you’re barking up the wrong tree.
You see, all we hear is whimpers
and nothing flares my temper
like men who act like dogs.

You’re afraid of what you can say?
Try being afraid to wake up every day
and take the subway
because a stray hand may
land on your ass or thigh.

Try being afraid to be anywhere alone,
be it at work or home,
without assessing the space
for routes of escape, just in case.

Try being afraid of someone stalking you
when you’re out walking
in your neighborhood or the woods or at night,
prepared to fight with pepper spray.

Try being afraid to report anything
because it could bring
retaliation, condemnation, termination,
or an even worse situation.

Try being afraid of your boss,
manager, or employer,
who might exploit your vulnerability,
your need for a salary.

Try being afraid to walk down the block
and hear a group of men talk
about your body in crude ways
and expect you to say, “Thank you.”

Try being afraid to speak up and out
because some men will pout
and get defensive,
which gives way to more extensive harassment.

Try being afraid to stand up for yourself
in a world that continually minimizes your wealth,
that commits violence against you,
then seeks to silence you
and make its lies the truth.

So excuse me
if I don’t feel sympathy
or shed any tears
over your infantile fears.
Stop talking and hear us,
muster the grit to sit
with discomfort of it.
For it’s a small price to pay
compared to what we face each day.

Besides, if what you were going to say
or do could be misconstrued
as poor behavior
then save your comments.
The intent
was not to compliment us
but to flatter yourself.
So put your ego on the shelf,
let your words melt
behind your teeth,
and then,
take
a
seat.