slam society

I reach down into your throat in hopes of ripping
out my name but all I can grasp is hers. All I can feel
as my fingers tiptoe across your middle is how
swollen your core is; the beating she gave you left
blood pooling inside you in all the wrong places.
My jaw is not a promise waiting to be held by you, so
I’m sorry if I flinch when you try to. I’ve kissed more
knuckles than lips and I’ve learned that sometimes
they taste the same. Raspberry bruises you’d mistake
for love bites. There is no affection here.
I’m afraid I’m going to swallow her name in my sleep
and dream of the girl you’ll always want
more than me.
—  if it’s not her than it’s someone else // Haley Hendrick

LESSONS IN BECOMING A WOMAN

1.) do not be afraid. there is a fire in your heart. learn to love the way the flames lick at your chest

2.) kisses cannot heal the parts of you that are broken. kiss the tears goodbye. then learn to love the body that made them

3.) fighting means nothing if you dont know what youre fighting for. draw your sword. just make sure you know who youre aiming for

4.) you are still growing. you are still learning. every day you are born again. you are a pheonix that never stops burning. embrace newness

5.) taking up space is a luxury some women cannot afford. do not be afraid to be vast. there is no such thing as outgrowing yourself

6.) not everyone exists to help you grow. sometimes you have to learn on your own how to put yourself back together again

7.) the stars know your fury. they have seen too many women like you forget themselves. they will guide you through the night if youll only tell them where to take you

8.) take. take from those who would take from you. keep on taking. there is no man on earth who is unfamiliar with wanting too much and having too little

9.) womens first decree was destruction. chaos runs in your veins. never forget

10.) some of us never grow up. only grow older. time is merciless, but shes not your enemy. remember that womanhood is a feeling, not a number

—  a lesson in growing pains (and how to achieve them)

Ever since I was a little girl, my mother would tell me that being polite was the most important thing a woman can be.

I am four
I am in the backseat of my grandfather’s car with my two male cousins. I excitingly exclaim, “I’m going to be an astronaut when I’m older!” My grandfather sternly tells me girls can’t be astronauts, especially pretty ones. My cousins say they’re going to be pro football players― he tells them they can be anything they set their minds to. When I get home I take down the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling; I don’t really want to be an astronaut anymore.

I am seven
I am the top of my class, and I win a student of the year award. A boy I have a crush on tells everyone, “no one likes a girl who knows everything.” They all laugh. I blush and stuff my award into my backpack; I don’t really want to be smart anymore.

I am eleven
I am lean and have cut abs from all my activities. All the girls in the locker room have prominent breasts, and hips. One of them tells me that abs on a girl are manly and gross― boys don’t like girls who look bulky; I don’t really want to be strong anymore.

I am fourteen
I am a freshman cheerleader, and getting noticed is important to me. Upperclassmen whistle at me as I walk down the halls, and one very popular senior grabs me by my waist and tells me I’d look good underneath him. I smile uncomfortably and tug at my skirt; I don’t really want to be seen anymore.

I am fifteen
I am very sick and gain ten pounds while on prednisone. My mother pinches at my arms and makes a joke about how they look like pillsbury dough. My friends mock the roundness of my face and a boy tells me he only likes really thin girls; I don’t really want to eat anymore.

I am seventeen
I am dating a boy who makes me feel like I am flying. He tells me that if I sleep with him it’ll prove that I care― I believe him. He holds me down by my neck and I am silent. When he’s finished I lay on stained sheets with my blonde hair in knots; I don’t really want to be in love anymore.

I am eighteen
I am every man’s image of a perfect woman. I walk, talk, and breathe just the way men want me to. I say thank you when I am whistled at. I am never too ambitious, too intelligent, too strong, or too opinionated.
I tiptoe around everything, because taking up too much space in a man’s world is never okay. I understand now that disagreeing or agreeing with a man can sometimes mean life or death; I don’t really want to be a woman anymore.

—  When people ask me why I need feminism

I don’t believe in fairytales.
When I was broken, nobody came.
No knight found my broken crown worth saving.
No fairy godmother offered me a kind hand.

When I cried myself to sleep and woke up
with red-rimmed and puffy eyes, nobody asked why.
Nobody blinked.
When I’d burst out crying for no reason or
when my laughter turned to uncontrolled sobs,
no one asked me if I was alright.
No one offered a hug,
No genie lent me three wishes.

In real life, sadness is not attractive.
  Nobody falls in love with a broken smile,
with a barely held together feature.

In real life, nobody listens when you cry for help.
They blame your constant tiredness to sleeping late,
and your nightmares to bad movies.

They scoff. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
or, “Go to your school’s counsellor, if you’re so desperate.”
or, “Is it because you gained weight?”
OR, “What, you’re gonna kill yourself or something?”
Or something, definitely.

They sent me gifts at the end;
a chocolate bar with hazels.
“The Power of your mind” and “Emotional Intelligence.“
And “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Teenagers.”
Things that yell out:
SOMEBODY CARES! NOT ME, BUT SOMEONE FOR SURE!

  They didn’t understand.
My life already was a big, fat self help book.
With pity looks and a floor filled with pulverized glass.
Not enough to hurt, but enough to kill you at the end.

I pulled myself back together.
By telling others the loving words I wanted to hear.
By meditating.
By making sure I ate healthy and enough.
By drinking tea before bed so no nightmares would come.

No prince charming appeared to kill the monster;
I grabbed him by the hairs and threw him back to hell.
I don’t believe in fairytales.

—  Rapunzel cut her own hair and used it as a rope down the tower. Snow White spat out the apple. m.v.r.     
happiness

what a complex feeling. something you may or may not feel on a daily basis. the way you smile when you see cute babies or see your dog when you get home. joy when you’re with your friends and having the damn time of your life. i thought i was happy. i thought i was content with my life, and then i met you.

you showed me a whole new side to happiness. a type of contentment i had never felt before and all of a sudden i felt like i had a purpose. i had someone to show me what being happy truly felt like.

i had you.

you pull me in once again
i dive head first into this reverie
where we have each other and that’s all we need in the world

everything’s changed but one thing remains the same
i will always be yours
but you will never be mine

The day I left the moon for the sun,
an eclipse sucked the light from
my throat. I choked on stardust,
spat out tiny universes the moon
would never dream of orbiting.
The sun told me I was the brightest
thing she’d ever seen. The moon
sighed when I told him, saying he
knew the craters in his surface
were enough of a flaw to send me
rocketing across the galaxy.
I think the moon is jealous. He has
always wanted her rays to warm
him but they could never reach
quite close enough. Maybe that’s
why he settled for my hands
instead; tender, quiet things that
fill the holes in his surface.
The sun commends me for trying
to heal him, but promises me
eternal shine, a wine I cannot
refuse. Sometimes I look up from
my home on her fiery flesh, a solar
flare amongst many, feeling sorry
for the moon. I know he blocks
her beams so I can take note of
the dark he feels now. Halos the
light around his frame so I can
see every curve and scar shaping
his being. I tell him, I’m sorry, but I
can no longer see my reflection
mirrored off his reflecting light.
Maybe I never did.
—  how i fell in love with space // Haley Hendrick
COLOURS
When you jump into the deep end, it’s the colour of the splash. When it rains, it’s the colour of her muddy raincoat and matching boots. When she laughs, it’s the stain of slushie on her tongue. When its winter, its the light shade of frost on her lips. When you gaze out to sea, it’s the soft rolling movement of the tide. When she looks at you, it’s colour of your eyes. The blue tint of your eyes.
When you sit in your living room, it’s the soft trickle of light through the window. When you make her laugh, it’s the colour that erupts from her mouth. When it’s warm, it’s the flickering shade of fire. When you cook, it’s the citrus bursting of flavour and smell. When she walks, it’s the flowers that bloom from their buds. When she sings, it’s the excited grin of your face. The yellow burst of your face.
When you bend to pick a flower, it’s the colour of grass. When you look down, it’s the shade of the stains on your trousers. When you gaze out of the window, it’s the hills, the leaves, the hedgerow . When you see headlights in the drive way, its tint of illuminated trees. When you hug her hello, it’s the glow of her phone lighting up. When she looks down to read, it’s reflected in her round staring eyes. When you read the message, it’s the colour of your cheeks. The green blush of your cheeks.
When you spin her in the middle of the dance floor, it’s the colour of her dress. When you smile at each other, it’s the shade of her lipstick. When she whispers in your ear, it’s the soft beat of your heart. When you see her with someone else, it’s the colour of your breath. When you smash the mirror in the hallway, it’s the prick of glass in your finger. When you hear her calling, it’s the colour of your pulse. The red beating of your pulse.
This is an ode to the lives that were lost,
in a city I love, and always have,
and for London, for Paris,
with beauty lining their brickwork,
in sickness, in health, we stand.
For Syria, Libya and Iraq,
and a list that never ends,
that quite possibly never will,
at least in our poor lifetimes.
For the innocent,
for the destruction of hope,
in a world cruel enough to justify
the death of a child.
All in the name of religion.
All in the name of peace,
All in the name of irony.
This should not remain unwritten,
as a nation we scream.
We should rise above,
from the flames like phoenix.
We must be angry and passionate,
We must be resilient,
may our fumes destroy the hate,
may the names of the lost never be forgotten,
and may the forgotten names be found.
—  an ode to lost lives
how to get over a man who ain’t shit (in 7 steps)

Step 1.
Say aloud:

I am going to get over a man by the name of _________ because he ain’t shit.

as many times as it pleases.

Step 2.
write a poem.
it can be one word, or no words.
it can be sounds, or your silence.
just know when it’s started.
just make sure it ends.
f bombs are welcome.

Step 3.
who has time to write a poem about a man who ain’t shit? you do. Did your heart have time to love him? obviously. does the universe have time to be great? of course. Are you a poet? Do you breathe? do you have fingers? then you are a universe too.

and your heart is an orbit of stars clustering around
the black of you like a cheerful congregation…

do not dismiss its ache.

Step 4.
no, a poem does not mean
subliminal Facebook statuses.
It does not mean rebound love.
It does not mean “one last time for the road”
or “maybe he’ll be different tomorrow”

because he won’t be.
that just isn’t good math.

you probably aren’t good at math.

Step 5.
say aloud “I’m not that good at math”.

do not try to add or subtract things in your life just to forget him.
he is a loss. and a gain. It’s okay to not be okay with that. It’s okay to cry.

Step 6.
maybe you need to cry.
do that then.
the skies cry too.
and spring often comes after.

Step 7.
say “Goodbye”
say “hello”
wear your hair unkempt.
walk through a park.
decide to be happy.
without him.
decide that you are without him.
and you will be happy.
and you will be home.

home.
is wherever you choose to be.


[repeat every step until it sticks.]

C. 2015 Rashawna Wilson

Stardust Trails

I have always thought you and I were too perfect.
Messy, but our love was incredible.
Therefore, I’ll blame the universe, and conjure up tales about the chaos it created,
and how we had no fault in our destruction.
The gods laughed as they pulled and tugged on the stars with (red) strings,
playing puppets with our fate,
leaving nothing behind but tattered hearts and stardust trails.

-C.L.

Let me talk for a second.

Let me recap for you the first time I ever
held another’s hand; working my fingers
around theirs like a master weaver, veins
threading together in tight stitches. Candy
pressed into my palm, the bones sugary
sweet just beneath skin. No wonder I always
wanted to taste the tips, nail grazing tooth
slowly like savoring something decadent.
And he was.

Let me talk for a second.

Let me remind you of what it’s like to feel
closure. Crawling into a freezer, ice licking
at my eyelashes and frostbite attempting
to make friends with my toes. I have a friend
padlock it behind me. Trap me in, tie me
down. I turn glacier; solid, slow-moving, but
m e l t i n g. My water is collected and swallowed
down by pride. Left to ice over again.
Only the right tools can chip away at my
body now.

Let me talk for a second.

Let me show you what love is supposed to
feel like. Calm wind shifting linen curtains from
an open window, clean sheets tangled around
naked bodies. Teeth marks engraved into
collarbones, lazy arms tosses over shoulders,
the lingering high of comfort drifting through
the air. The walls of this room doesn’t make it
feel like home, but the one lying next to you,
rather. The softness extends far deeper than
the mattress.
The warmth feels eternal.

Let me talk for a second.
Let me get one word in.
Let me, let me, let me
convince you it is okay
to feel things as wholly
and certainly as you do.

—  listen to me for once // Haley Hendrick
Don't love a poet

You said you could read me like a book
But your fingers never my words
They tuched my skin

Said I was your favorite mystery novel
But I am not a book!

You spend all you time trying to turning me into an inanimate object

Covering me and your Post-It note metaphor

Used to poke at my bruises and say “violets come from violence”

Used to scratch at my scars and called them Vines like the kind that grow up old houses

But I am not a book or a house or a garden

When I say I don’t like to be touched this is not an entry for your diary

When I say I can’t sleep when it’s quiet this is not a start of a chapter about another book that you’ll write about me

He said “you’re the type of girl that people write poetry about”

But I can write my own poetry and tell my own story and frankly my metaphors are better than yours
-LittleTownPoet

I finally understand why people need to pray.
Control is leaking through my fingertips,
For simple heart breaking biology,
This internal danger, omnipotence,
it’s her heart, it stopped and started,
The tubes, the worried whispering,
From white coats with white faces,
It’s red, it’s green, it’s hypocrisy,
The fragility of her, tiny frame,
Once blonde hair, red nails, warm,
Now grey, outgrown, cold.
It’s her lungs and I can’t breathe either,
Acidic dread, it’s her blood infected,
How can it be? I am sarcastic to suffering,
Who is king of atheism? Who can help me help her?
It is her stomach, it is vanity, it is irony.
I pray I’ll never doubt you again,
I pray she wakes up,
I pray.
—  14.11.16
Dear daddy

Dear daddy, I will not marry you.

My life would remain forever blue

I will not face your angry snarl forever 

Talking to me as if you were so clever

And though I love my mother and no doubt have her eyes

My own choice in husband will not be my demise

Next time when you laugh at my stupidity 

Know that it is my pathetic attempt to avoid your negativity 

When you clench your fists at my neutral face

And you make me feel fear because “her head is up in space”

My heart I know I will not misplace 

When I wear white and hold your hand 

You will pass it to a man who with me does not misunderstand 

Dear dad, I will not do what daughters do 

I will not marry you. 

I feel it
In my bones
This degeneration
Fragments of me
Mixing up with the
Stardust
I don’t belong here
I belong to the stars now
- From the Intoxicated Ink

I’m learning that home really is where the heart is, and it’s hard to articulate that spot when you’ve fallen in love with so many different people places and things. I fell in love with the sound of my own two feet walking next to hers, I felt home in every city I ever loved her in, but you can’t make a home out of something with wings where its roots should be and then expect it not to go anywhere, which is to say the closest thing I have to name myself a home anymore is my own condemned body.
—  excerpts from poems I never should have written #32

Here in America, in every single state there are standards for every subject, a collection of lessons that the teacher’s required to teach by the end of the term.

But the greatest lessons you will ever teach us will not come from your syllabus.
The greatest lessons you will ever teach us, you will not even remember.

You never told us what we weren’t allowed to say; we just learned how to hold our tongues. Now somewhere in America, there is a child holding a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and there is a child holding a gun. But only one of these things has been banned by their state government, and its not the one that can rip through flesh.
It’s the one that says ‘fuck you’ on more pages than one.

Because we must control what the people say, how they think, and if they want to become the overseer of their own selves, then we’ll show them a real one.

And somewhere in America, there is a child sitting at his mother’s computer, reading the homepage of the KKK’s website. That is open to the public. But that child will have never read To Kill a Mockingbird because its school has banned it for its use of the n-word.

Maya Angelou is prohibited because we’re not allowed to talk about rape in school. We were taught that just because something happens, doesn’t mean you are to talk about it.

They build us brand new shopping malls so that we’ll forget where we’re really standing

on the bones of the Hispanics,

on the bones of the slaves,

on the bones of the Native Americans,

on the bones of those who fought just to speak.

Trans-Continental Railroad to Japanese internment camps, there are things missing from our history books. But we were taught that it is better to be silent than to make them uncomfortable.

Somewhere in America, a private school girl searchs for hours through boutiques trying to find the prom dress of their dreams. While kids on the south side spend hours searching through lost and found, cause winter’s coming soon and that’s the only jacket they have.

Kids are late to class for working the midnight shift, they give awards for best attendance, but not for keeping your family off the streets.

Kids will call your music is ghetto, they will tell you you don’t talk right, then they’ll get in the back of a car with all their friends, singing bout how they’re bout that life and we can’t stop.

Somewhere in America, schools are promoting self-confidence, while they whip out their scales and shout out your body fat percentage in class. While heftier girls are hiding away, and the slim-fit beauties can’t help but giggle with pride.

The preppy kids go thrift shopping because they think it sounds real fun, but we go because that’s all we got money for cause mama works for the city, mama only gets paid once a month.

Somewhere in America, a girl is getting felt up by a grown man on the subway. She’s still in her school uniform, and that’s part of the appeal. It’s hard to run in knee socks and mary janes and all her male teachers know it too.

Coaches cover up star players raping freshmen after the dance. Women are killed for rejecting dates. But God forbid I bring my girlfriend to prom. A girl is black out drunk at the after party. Take a picture before her wounds wake her. How many pixels is your sanity worth? Whats’s a 4.0 to a cold jury?

What’d you learn in class today? Don’t walk fast, don’t speak loud, keep your hands to yourself, keep your head down, keep your eyes on your own paper. If you don’t know the answer, fill in C. Always wear earbuds when you ride the bus alone, if you feel like someone’s following you, pretend you’re on the phone.

The teacher never fails, only you do.

Every state in America, the greatest lessons are the ones you don’t remember learning.

—  Somewhere in America, Get Lit (Belissa Escobedo, Rhiannon McGavin, and Zariya Allen)
It was the age of innocence
when those ice blue drinks stained our tongues
and we’d save up just to get one and
we ran after the ice cream van
abandoning flip flops in the street.
It was fizzy, bubbly, hazy and everything was surrounded
in freshly cut grass and sunshine
red brick dust, empty fields.
The hands on the clock held ours, we never felt disobeyed
time was our friend,
the sun never set.
It was those long sleepy summers,
where we’d lie in the garden
just dreaming
of the days we’d put high heels on and
paint our eyelids
romanticised
like we thought it would be better
much better.
—  small town musing