Category Archives: Poetry

April Poetry Challenge–RLA Style

With April being poetry month, I thought it would be a perfect time for an RLA poetry post.  This past April, for the first time ever, I participated in the Poetry Month Challenge with a few poetic friends. The basis of the challenge is to write one poem every day for the entire month. I selected a few of my own and asked friends to contribute. The poems posted below were all written as part of this past April’s Poetry Month Challenge. They have been collected from multiple women, none have titles, and they have all been submitted anonymously. Enjoy!

 

I’m still waiting for it to begin.
Trying to find the anger within.
You. 
Grin and all, walking in.
A shine that follows.
Unwilling, he took that from you.
Leaving you with darkness.
Lost, trying to find the way back. 
To the day you felt comfortable in your own skin.
To the day you no longer have to lock every door behind you.
To the day you are no longer scared to live in your own house,
and able to leave your door open. 
Letting that shine that follows return again. 

 

Red heart beating life through my body
Orange sun reflecting in my eyes and staining my cheeks
Yellow sandy blond hair falling every which way but straight
Green grass stains are playful memories sweeping across worn jeans
Blue veins carrying precious life through delicate lines
Indigo mind taking in the fragrance of smiles passing by
Purple bruises lingering on olive skin building a tolerance for life
Coloring me in

 

Beautiful brown wrinkled skin
Aged with the wisdom of the world
Brave enough to be bold
Humble enough to still learn
Decades contained in her watering eyes
Mama Taejah is my new Superwoman

 

My vagina has a story too
It hasn’t told many
Because it gets confused
Labels get confused
Experiences are confusing
So it keeps its secrets

It has felt shame
Like a heart sprawled open
It wanted compassion
But it felt embarrassment
It has been broken
So it developed its own defense mechanisms 
It caved in like sand walls 
collapsing on a weak foundation
It signed contracts with the devil
It paid for that
It blamed itself 
It hurt 
It left
It feared 
It built up walls upon walls
To keep out the past
It cried until it couldn’t
It has felt and felt
It wanted to stop
But it still felt
alone

But it has grown
It has learned to love itself in a way that nobody ever taught it to
Like a heart sprawled wide open
Giving and giving
Learning to accept
It has been shown love and that made all the difference
It needed to be pushed
To discover what it had not yet discovered on its own 
Now it is learning 
Learning independence 
Learning to trust
Learning empowerment

It still fears 
that is a scar that may never fade
But it loves
And it waits
And it says what it means
Because it is learning self-worth
And it is finally starting to share its story

 

I looked down at my feet, 
admiring my new black leather sandals 
Admiring the fact that I got them for a deal second hand
My skin an olive dark tan 
My toes painted a deep red
I look down at my feet
and realize that they mirror my mother’s
Then I remember the olive tan woman who taught me to thrift shop

I pick through the garden weeds
The dirt under my nails and on my knees
The sun beating on my bare shoulders
I smile as I remind myself how lucky I am to have this place
To have the time, the tools, and the earth
To be gaining all this knowledge

I imagine myself older with a magnificent and crazy garden taking over my yard
A serene and tasty place 
A place to get away
A place to spend all my free days
Then I realize that this image is in fact the image of my mother
The woman who introduced me to dirt as a child
Who spent hours upon hours planting with me every summer

No wonder I’ve grown up to be just like her

 

She wears masculine clothing,
Predominately dates women
She identifies as female
I think she is beautiful

But there are places she wont go
Cruelty paves the streets on certain parts of town
She has grown accustom to dodging words that shoot at her like knives
The strangers who tell her “you need some dick in your life”
or boldly refer to her as a man with disgust in their eyes
But her ears are shields and she calmly deflects their words
Harassment has become a normalized part of her life
and she doesn’t want to step on a soap box every night
She shouldn’t have to

I might be lucky
Because my identity feels like it lies dormant ‘cause you can’t see it
Like a secret that I can keep if I need to
I don’t fear discrimination at job interviews
I do not get harassed on the streets
Well, at least not because of my dating preference
Nobody tells me that I need some dick in my life
I have the privilege of choosing when I want to out myself
I can pass as a heterosexual woman anywhere at any time
I can hide 
behind shields of feminine clothing, make up, and long hair
Sometimes out of convenience
Sometimes out of fear 

But events still occur that force me to become acutely aware of who I am
Confront it even
Some joyful and some difficult
But either way, these events make me who I am

Family Christmas reminds me every year what closeted feels like
I hide from this family out of fear
Because I count on them to love me and to be proud of me
So instead of share, I endure the questions every year 
They want to know which man I am dating now
I curl into myself as they describe the sexy husbands they can set me up with

I am reminded of my identity when I am dancing
A standard creeper asks us if he can join
Well, dude, my relationship is not here for your pleasure… so no
But if I want to be public, my gender and my sexuality collide and become fetishized
I wonder if that is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life

Our last election was a time that filled me with so much hope and pride
Going door to door
Campaigning and debating and voting for my constitutional rights
“Vote No” plastered on stickers, t-shirts, and signs
Watching the TV screen that November as it counted the uncomfortably close race

When we won the campaign that night, tears welled up in my eyes
For this possibility that we may actually be creating a society that is more tolerant and loving and accepting
For my future 
For my friends
For my children
It was a moment I will recall to them as a mile stone in our history
And all I could feel was pride

I don’t want to hide behind shields my whole life
I shouldn’t have to
We shouldn’t have to
Events happen and feelings surface
They string together and get twisted up in how I identify
Sometimes I can hide, sometime I don’t want to, sometimes I can’t
But it always makes me who I am

“We Are Not Only a Mouth and Luring Siren We Are the Women”

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Lately when things have been feeling a little gloomy or when my body and my mind has been feeling unambitious, I’ve been turning to reading poetry, listening to rap and hip-hop (with a conscious message) or watching spoken word for that extra motivation and wisdom.
 
It’s compelling because poetry and spoken word have typically been a world for me untouched and unexplored. I have always appreciated, been more than curious, and admired the powerful individuals inside it. With their booming voices and insightful word choices, whether their content be delivered through pencil or mouth, paint brush or spray can, rapping or singing, sign language or Spanish, I’ve always been curious.   When it comes to the message and the content they are spitting it’s okay to agree and disagree, for I’ve always loved to question and to be questioned. The beautiful thing about art is there isn’t a way to “do” poetry, to “do” spoken word, to “do” art. Yet despite my long lasting envy, there was a part of me buried under my insecurities that did not feel like this world of poetry was my territory, even if it was in my own bedroom.
 
But lately… I’m all up in that territory and I’m not gonna lie that shit feels great and I’ve never felt more inspired.
 
So a few weeks ago, when I was having a… we can call it one of my “unmotivated moments”  lying in bed, slowly eating ice cream, I stumbled upon this spoken word piece called, “Khaleesi,” by Tonya Ingram and Venessa Marco. (and sorry no Game of Thorn Fans this piece is not about that Khaleesi). But this piece, these two women really blew me away. Every day since I first saw it, I’ve watched it for motivation because as weird as it sounds, I’ve been spending a lot of time discovering my voice and how I want to be heard, even if it is scary.
 
 
My two favorite verses from this are:
 
“we are not only a mouth and luring siren
we are the women
who dare think of ourselves as more than a fuck
when we lend our thoughts to breath
we know often
we are speaking the words that will kill us
for we are then called
bitch
cunt
whore
never a voice
just static sound”
 
I really also like the ending verse:
 
“This is our birthright
this is our inherit
we are women who capsize entire crowds
with the sayings of the wind
holy knuckles
full
of fight.”

So what or who has been motivating you lately? I would love to hear from you, even if you just post the link in the comments below!

pssst. other RLA’ers love spoken word and poetry too and hey, some of them even spit themselves (let me take you back in time and you can check out what they are writin’ or lovin’):

5 BADASS SPOKEN WORD POEMS ON BODY IMAGE

CHEERS TO A NEW YEAR

I DON’T WANT TO BE AFRAID

I CRY: WOMEN IN WAR

RISE WITH THE MORNING (AN ORIGINAL POEM)

ARTIST REVIEW: ANGEL HAZE

Just some Friday Fun Links that highlight spoken word pieces or poetry:

BLACK FEELS LIKE

SHRINKING WOMEN

RAPE CRISIS AT OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE SPURS SHARP CRITIQUE– IN POETRY

HEY GIRL HEY: THAT GAY MISOGYNY AIN’T CUTE

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Also not only shout out times a million to  Tonya Ingram and  Venessa Marco.  but also Button Poetry (where I found this link). Button Poetry is a  Minnesota-based organization dedicated to improving the quality of performance poetry media. 

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I Don’t Want to be Afraid

I wrote this poem about a form of sexual harassment that happens almost everyday to many women, most of the time we don’t even think about it.  I will preface the piece by noting that it is probably one of the most mild forms of harassment, but I still wanted to shed light on the event in order to point out how little occurrences can still have a profound impact on their victims. It is not right or fair for me or anyone to accept these events as a normalized part of our culture, but often we do.  I decided to write and post this piece to describe my experience and explain how unbelievably frustrating it feels for me to accept this behavior on almost a daily basis. 

I don’t want to be afraid
September 2013

I don’t want to be afraid anymore

A man looks me up and down as I walk by
Dominates me with his eyes
He wont take them off of my body
He knows that I can see him staring

Stern fire, angered passion
All together, his stare tightens
Looks at my chest, my thighs
My fear begins to rise

He, in this moment, has the power
The power to terrify me
For a millisecond my mind wanders
To what he is capable of doing
He just told me with his eyes
That he, at the very least,
Is capable of dominating me
Without moving a limb on his body

Staring at me
As if he has the right
To use my body as he pleases
My flesh
My figure
His eyes are fixed

His eyes alone show me
That he has the power
To make me feel uncomfortable
To make me feel threatened
To make me feel objectified
For his pleasure
So that he can be pleased
Staring at me

My mind wanders
To what he is capable of doing
Wondering if he will follow me
Touch me
Grab me
Attack me
Who gave him the right?
My heart rate continues to rise

I say nothing, do nothing
I can’t look back as I pass by
Obediently
Silently
But I can still feel his uncomfortable stare
In this moment he won
Heart pounding
Chest tightening
Fear engulfing
So many emotions
In a matter of seconds

And just as fast
I brush it off
Knowing that it will happen again

Anger comes later
I bet he never thought about what his gaze does
Lingering far too long
What power he has
What dominating culture he represents
It is unbelievably frustrating how often this happens

I am afraid
Even if it was only a moment
I was afraid
Felt like I got away
This time
It was just a gaze

I don’t want to be afraid anymore

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