Sometimes I write really bad poetry. Sometimes, for some reason, it’s necessary. It’s one way that I work stuff out. This was, of all things, inspired by the Comments section on some article I’ve forgotten now. Thanks for bearing with me.
He told me he’d spent a lifetime lifting women onto his back.
He told me he remembered a time when there were two columns in the classifieds,
Jobs sorted by sex.
He told me he’d done all he could to fix the world.
He told me he didn’t spend all that time empowering women just to have us tear each other down.
He told me he was sad we were so terrible to each other.
I tell him:
It is not his job to select which women to empower,
And it is not his job to lift us up.
It never was.
It is his job to listen when we speak
To make space for us by moving to one side
And when we empower ourselves, to get the fuck out of our way.
I tell him:
You came into a space where we were talking among ourselves
And interrupted our conversation with your judgments.
Lesbians, he decided, so cruel to the bi women of the world,
were perhaps not so worthy of his empowerment after all.
Like they’re cookies in a snack machine
And there’s no way he’s paying a dollar-fifty for any of them.
This is how the privileged set the conversation.
This is how they center themselves,
playact the hero,
instrumental to our fight.
They see our struggles against one another
And amplify them.
Meanwhile, they glisten in self-righteousness,
Paragons of sympathy, our saviors.
No man saves me.
I save myself.
I have made and unmade myself against the shadows of men my whole life.
I have tried to learn what it is to be a person
Against the wall of what’s been given me, and what I’ve taken
I took what they gave me a thousand times over
Until I choked on it
And then I took it again
And they told me that the word for that was love
And because they wrote the goddamn dictionary,
I believed them.
No man loves me.
I love myself.
Our fables and our fairy-tales and our parents and our teachers and our lovers and our televisions tell us
To be consumed
To bleed only at their hands
(A million ways to bleed at their hands,
Five for every episode of Law and Order: SVU)
To burn only under their fingers.
These are not new thoughts.
But they are new to me.
This simple language is not your revolution,
But it is mine.
I self-destruct and build myself anew
(Over and over and over again)
To take control of my own story
To be whole, not despite them or to spite them
But to be without being in reference to.
I will not be me, against man
I will not be me, who rejected men
I will not be me, victim of man
I certainly will not be me, saved by man.
I will be me.
Someday, I will define me.
No one else.