Concept

Justice, a noun defined by men in my classes, professors, men in my family

Justice is a gun in the hand,

Human behind bars,

Electric chairs or no voting rights on some charges.

Justice from women, not all, but more than anywhere else

Justice is a verb,

Can be distributed through nouns: food, shelter, blankets, diapers, doctors visits instead of an emergency room.

Can be call each other instead of the cops,

Neighbors Watching the baby since I can’t afford daycare.

The back of my brain yells, “not all men”.

you’re right. It’s not.
But it is most men in power,

is still the definition their heirs inherit.

If justice is symbolized by scales, a cut in one and a bullet hole through the other destroys the whole thing.

Destiny Denial

I call myself a “bitch”

A “c*nt”

It’s my apology for inciting other’s discomfort by existing.

“sorry that I am loud and different and can’t smile and nod through some harmful words,

Sorry that everyone can feel the fumes from my nervous system when arrogance makes the air so thick that no one can breathe.”

I say that I’m a bitch because I want to be in on the joke,

Want to be a teller instead of a punchline.

How it’s fair to blame the reactor before the actor still confuses me.

An unlikable woman harmed equivocates to being unharmed.

I call myself a “bitch” so I can harm myself before someone else gets to hurt me.

It doesn’t work.

No one challenges my self-identification. They don’t have to– I was the one to say it.

Still, something feels worse in the silent agreement than if someone called me it outright.

Maybe that’s how they see me after all.

Embarrassingly, I wonder how many people would remain if I stopped harming myself in these innocuous ways,

That maybe people can only tolerate me when I vocalize what a burden I am.

My favorite people are women called “bitches” and “c*nts”.

Women who piss people off make my world go round.

I am their biggest fan.

I’m not sure why I can’t be mine,

why I can’t accept that I’m likely a variant of the very women I look up to

Maybe because a woman who likes herself with no interest in other’s opinion on how she feels about herself is still a social crime.

Factory Defects

A local creamery made an ice cream flavor that is both chocolate and cayenne pepper. I can’t call myself this because it’s a Latinx palette, in the family of Mexican hot chocolate. My blood type is soda bread, and when my grandmother sailed from Ireland to New York city, she probably thought that ketchup was spicy. What I know for sure is that her son, my father, thought that salsa was an appropriate substitute for tomato sauce. My point is that part of me is cayenne pepper–more of me than I’d like, more of me than I know what to do with. I try to hide it, but even a gentle breeze has everyone feeling me in a way that registers on the Scobbe Scale.

I worry that I was made by a God who phoned it in–

I’m some very strong things while being a vacuum of others.

Mountains of self-help books and TED Talks emphasize vulnerability,

But my real has her own battleground drummer boy.

My vulnerable, my authentic self–

She’s a rebel-rouser. Deep down, I am not a sympathetic woman.

I’m all jagged edges with none fitting anywhere without drawing blood.

Options dwindle these days, and I can’t figure out where I fit, nor can I minimize myself and stay there.

I feel like a dangerous creature

who might be better in exile than in public.

I don’t want that.

I just want to believe that my sharp edges are on purpose,

were intentional in my design,

cleared appropriately by quality control.

I want a reassurance, a breadcrumb in the direction of purpose.

I want less resistance to existing.

Yard yielding

A floral bush rests on the back corner of my apartment building.
It doesn’t belong to an arrangement or landscaping plan,

Just bush, bark, and earth beside brick.

October yawned across the neighborhood,

and it’s pretty.
All Midwestern autumn and local charm.

Walking from my car to apartment, I saw the hedge.

Flowers browning,

Green beginning to exhale her chlorophyll from the leaves.

The bush

it…

She

let’s go with grace

Not in a pretty way like the leaves on the ground who dye themselves russet, goldenrod, and chestnut.

The flowers droop dishwater blonde.
But she’s letting go in her own time,

without controlling how her grief is visible on the outside.

This is a season whom she doesn’t ask to change.

She accepts it,

Releasing grip on leaves and vanity as chilly mornings make it harder to hold on. The sight makes sense in showing what none of us can avoid,

what we struggle in accepting.

It is. That’s all the bush is saying. It is without explanation or pretense or profundity. It is and this is the most adaptive way I’ve found to survive.

Me, too.

First Aide

Pain isn’t a broken car, revving smoke in an immovable fury.

Pain is a crying, redcheeked child.

Not asking to be fixed. It just wants your attention,

the tender awareness that something hurts.

Turns out, I’ve bled out looking for solutions when the wound just wanted me to look at it.

A single decade

The struggle of a person in their early twenties is uncertainty and overwhelming possibilities of what their life could be.
The struggle of someone in their late twenties is making decisions from authenticity instead of default, tradition, or potential regret. To pick ourselves over what they’re told a life of mattering looks like.

I’ve grieved prematurely for lives I’ll never live. I’ve blessed the life I have, a decade I told have to remember with an eraser over any of it. We’re always missing out on something. I think that I did something right because I never missed out on myself.