(Speak Up) – a slam poem

Nullibicity, United States

I look for codeine on the faces of boys, in the taste of thumbs wiping underneath my eyes, in the mattresses with three untucked corners and the stain of loneliness tattooed onto the hem of its comforts, where she fucks herself just to feel loved because no man should touch the demons in her spit, the death in her lungs, the disease of her mind. And I cannot give it away, because I am a sheep-in-a-wolf’s-skin virgin. And I feel that by speaking this, by the end of the night, I won’t be. That’s the relationship I have with humanity.
I have makeup on my hands from trying to make all of the ugly pretty, and they don’t teach you in high school how to breathe through the carbon; they tell you just to make diamonds. Tell that to the little girl halving my insides, locked in the cupboard because she doesn’t want anyone to hear her cry after the father figure of her life ripped himself from it in the burn of Velcro, and why the fuck did she make herself like Velcro? Did she not know it only burns for the surface left behind? That the bandaid feels no pain being ripped from the scraped knee of a toddler? That the mask simply falls after the masquerade, leaving the unseen seen and vulnerable? Why did she make herself of Velcro? Why did she make it so easy for broken to smoke his twelve pack inside of her… like the hand beneath her blouse, and why does everyone justify it with the insanity of age?
No! I was too young to be split like the hairs on my head, the ones my mother wasn’t pulling to make sure her palm connected. What sound are you even supposed to make when you’re being massacred in half? And I can’t stand myself long enough to fully love myself for the propriety in hating myself. And you had no right to tie my apple limbs around your own and shake the produce from my face - this is not a game of how quick we can spoil the fruit or break in the jewelry cases of little glass girls. Because she was a girl, and she trusted you.
And my words are not baseball bats in a messy, touching collision with your chest. My words will not bring the cheering masses to crest on the lonely shore of my lonely mind, because these words are not poetry.
These words are the words spent too long in silence. They are the words ripped from a young girl’s rusty, faucet-throat when she’s screaming nothing but the made bed of silence. These words mean nothing to those standing on the shore of the riverbank, watching the currents as they drown boys too young and baptize girls too old; and they will not matter to the bodies beneath them, cheeks bloating in the salt of their embryonic pockets.
But these words matter to a girl at war with herself and god. To a sister constantly worrying when she will lose to the water. To this girl, who is screaming her eyes dry to you now, because these words nesting in the caves of my throat have been silent for too long.

Author Statement

I understand staying quiet, and I understand feeling like you need to tell someone or you’ll explode — I stayed silent about it for a long time before I was forced to open up about it, with none of the people displaying healing, loving, or helpful reactions. It wasn’t until a decade later (and 7 years after the creation of this poem) that my disclosure was finally met with the love and support I’d originally craved.

My hope in this piece is that people take away the knowledge that speaking up can be empowering, but that breaking the silence is best when it feels right for you, and with the people that feel right. There isn’t a strict timeline or obligation, just what is best for you and your circumstances. But when you get to the point where you’re able to share your truth… I hope it can relieve some of the pressure. I hope that it’s healing. I hope you reach a point where you don’t feel like you have to censor yourself anymore, or that you’re a sealed envelope, forever to hold the secrets of your experiences inside you. Your power is in your life, your experiences, and how you choose to share them.


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