Tag Archives: feminism

riding the wave of necessary poetry…

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Another of my favorite activist poets is Asha Bandele. The following poem is one of two I will post here. I love her work.
I don’t really feel like writing much today. Everything is mundane. Oats and raisins and juice. Trying not to smoke. Coffee, not enough, but need to be careful. The sea is the same gorgeous as ever. Mundane. My clothes need to be picked up off the couch. I have phone calls to make and procrastinate. I grow one year older tomorrow, but I’ll be pretty much the same as I am today. Mundane.
This poem however, is not.

in response 2 a brother’s question about what he should do when his best friend beats up his woman
Asha Bandele

snatch him up by the back of his neck run him into his own fist
twice
tell him who the real enemy is show him
make him swallow his own teeth do not help when they scratch the inside
of his throat tell him it was his fault u did this
make his eyes swell up and & pus so he looks like a freak make him go to
work lie that & have to come up with excuses to his co-workers & friends
tell him the witeman made u do it tell him you’re sorry tell him u
love him tell him u didn’t mean to then kick his ass again
Question him on why he’s such a coward
Interrogate his ass
Make him beg for forgiveness Watch him crawl
Put The Word Out In The Streets……
THERE’S AN ENEMY IN OUR PRESENCE THERE’S AN
ENEMY IN OUR PRESENCE IT DOES NOT THINK IT ONLY
ATTACKS IT MAKES WEAK-ASS EXCUSES IT TAKES NO
RESPONSIBILITY IT PICKS ON PEOPLE SMALLER THAN
ITSELF IT READS SHARAZAD ALI
IT WORSHIPS MILES DAVIS IT DESTROYS BLKLIFE
IT LIES IT LIES

and if he finally understands
then go to him
find out where it started
search for burns beneath his flesh
peel back his pain
be a brother a real good brother
whisper haki madhubuti sonia sanchez in his ear
sing sweet honey songs
let him cry
let him sleep in your arms
stand alone if u have to
this is the right thing to do
let the others babble hate while u break centuries of vicious cycles
face the contradictions the bellies sliced open & jaws wired shit
the assholes torn &
the bloodied vaginas
this is what it looks like do not turn away now
babies beat out of wombs spines curved uneven legs that no longer walk
dead eyes that cannot see tomorrow liver imprinted with callused feet–
face the contradiction that looks like u smell like u
that tastes like u
& push out the violence be unafraid to be a man
who confronts men about women
be unafraid to be a man who confronts big small mean common nasty
everyday men
about women
be unafraid to be a man
who confronts
himself.

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June Jordan, warrior.

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I saw this this morning, before really even having my first cup of coffee, or before the world had set in. I was looking at the sea, its edges had blurred with the sky, sending a blue wave of freedom crashing into my mind. I experience always an awareness that I am blessed. This body moves how it wants, these fingers say what they will. This is privilege.
no, this is a right, that we have come to see as a privilege. Sisters of mine do not look out at blue edges of the universe and fly. Some of them do not have eyes. Some of them do not have voices.
Fortunately, we have words, we have images.

This is very graphic, but I thought to share:

http://blogs.tampabay.com/photo/2009/11/terrorism-thats-personal.html

As for today’s poem, I am choosing one of June Jordan’s poems that I love. If you dont know who June Jordan is, you MUST google her name and read her work. She changed so much of my life last year.

Poem about my rights
June Jordan

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
words
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
me
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
myself
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
be-
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
cars
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life.

Women’s day.

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It would take all night, into March 9th, for me to write about the unending amount of respect I have for women around the world who fight for basic human rights, everyday. The way I am moved by the wonderwoman everydaywoman supernaturalwoman who gives life, enjoys life, learns from and teaches life, and when appropriate, has the power to end a life. I can’t help but think of all the ways our world would be different if we had more control, and not from behind the scenes. One of the worst proverbs I used to hear growing up was “Behind every great man is a woman”. Fuck that.
I say we look forward with the strength of the thousands of women before us who died chanting out their voices to say, NO.
I am such a full complete person, I am whole, rooted, ever flowing, a beam of light that does not understand the meaning of the words “You can’t”.
So are you.

Here is a poem for my unborn daughter.

DAUGHTER
Nicole Blackman

One day I’ll give birth to a tiny baby girl
and when she’s born she’ll scream and I’ll make sure
she never stops.

I will kiss her before I lay her down
and will tell her a story so she knows
how it is and how it must be for her to survive.

I’ll tell her about the power of water
the seduction of paper
the promise of gasoline
and the hope of blood.

I’ll teach her to shave her eyebrows and
mark her skin.

I’ll teach her that her body is
her greatest work of art.

I’ll tell her to light things on fire
and keep them burning.

I’ll teach her that the fire will not consume her,
that she must take it and use it.

I’ll tell her to be tri-sexual, to try anything
to sleep with, fight with, pray with anyone,
just as long as she feels something.

I’ll help her do her best work when it rains.
I’ll tell her to reinvent herself every 28 days.
I’ll teach her to develop all her selves,
the courageous ones,
the smart ones,
the dreaming ones
the fast ones.

I’ll teach her that she has an army inside her
that can save her life.

I’ll tell her to say Fuck like other people say The
and when people are shocked
to ask them why they so fear a small quartet
of letters.

I’ll make sure she always carries a pen
so she can take down the evidence.
If she has no paper, I’ll teach her to
write everything down on her tongue
write it on her thighs.

I’ll help her to see that she will not find God
or salvation in a dark brick building
built by dead men.

I’ll explain to her that it’s better to regret the things
she has done than the things she hasn’t.

I’ll teach her to write her manifestos
on cocktail napkins.
I’ll say she should make men lick her enterprise.

I’ll teach her to talk hard.
I’ll tell her that her skin is the
most beautiful dress she will ever wear.

I’ll tell her that people must earn the right
to use her nickname,
that forced intimacy is an ugly thing.

I’ll make her understand that she is worth more
with her clothes on.

I’ll tell her that when the words finally flow too fast
and she has no use for a pen
that she must quit her job
run out of the house in her bathrobe,
leaving the door open.
I’ll teach her to follow the words.

I’ll tell her to stand up
and head for the door
after she makes love.
When he asks her to
stay she’ll say
she’s got to
go.

I’ll tell her that when she first bleeds
when she is a woman,
to go up to the roof at midnight,
reach her hands up to the sky and scream.

I’ll teach her to be whole, to be holy,
to be so much that she doesn’t even
need me anymore.
I’ll tell her to go quickly and never come back.
I will make her stronger than me.

I’ll say to her never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.

Never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.