The United States Supreme Court just overturned Roe v Wade and people are mourning their own bodies while others celebrate. The only sense I can make is that line: "you're beating with a book everyone the book told you to love," but then I remember that Jesse Lacey groomed two teenage girls and I remember that we were probably the same age when my best friend was groomed by her high school internship supervisor and she told me he was just so lonely and his wife was cheating on him until she found out he had kids and maybe the age gap was more canyon than creek. And then I remember our religion group project on abortion when I looked my former-preacher-now-teacher in the eye and asked him if he was sure it was always wrong. Read him the article I found about the little nine-year old girl forced to carry the spawn of incest. Read him the words she said when asked how she felt about having a baby: "Will I have to share my toys?" He told me it would still be a sin. He slashed our final grade and any tenuous thread I believed connected faith and morality. It would take another year before I would learn that my body produced natural lubricant when sexually aroused, probably another three before I learned what a clitoris was, five more before realizing it's normal for women to feel sexually aroused. I learned all of these things in bedrooms from nice boys who knew more about my body than I did and what if they hadn't been nice? Would I even know how to judge? Do I now? And all I can think is how much my body has had to rely on the niceness of men when my daughter asks me: "What are you thinking about?" I'm thinking thank god you live in a country with the right to abortion (for now). A country with decent sex-ed. Thank god your daddy is nice. Thank god you were born to a family who will teach you so you don't have to rely on the capricious charity of men. But then I remember that I don't owe my gratitude to a deity who can drown his misbehaving children and somehow retain the right to condemn a person for deciding not to have them in the first place. Instead I give her the sharpest weapon I have. Instead, I give her the truth.
I got a case of the empties and no I don't mean a box of two dozen bottles smelling of stale beer waiting to be returned to be filled with fresh beer or shattered and melted forged into shiny new bottles maybe crafted to carry something different I mean the single empty bottle forgotten in the basement or under the patio or by the creek behind your house I mean the case of twenty-three waiting by the door until it's full enough to move on I mean the case of eleven also waiting because it was scavenged to add up to twenty-four I mean the case of five eleven twenty-three again case after case after case dangerously rattling for a gap that keeps opening up until you finally go digging in the basement under the patio by the creek but all you find are the bottles in old photos of your dead grandparents and the friends you never see and you can't recycle a memory so you keep searching through the places you used to drink together laugh together be together and nothing ever gets filled or broken down into anything that can carry something new I got a case of the empties a glass-sharp rattle begging to move on while I wait inside the door in case that single bottle decides to show up @amnotpoetry
Do you recall the moment you were introduced to the ladder? Maybe you were sat on the ground, forced to squint against the sun while they pointed out some lofty goal. Or maybe you were placed on a rung, lifted by loving arms while you judged the distance you'd have to fall if you took just one wrong step. No wonder you want to defend it, all the hours you climbed and fretted, the blistered hands from grasping and lifting, bruised shins from slipping. No wonder your fingers instinctively curl when I tell you: that ladder never existed. No wonder you cling so tightly that your nails press false woodgrain into your flesh until that imaginary position is as identifying as your own handprint. If only you'd look around you'd see those cuts and scrapes weren't in vain; it's no shame to trip on the uneven ground, and so much easier to get up again. Without the dizzying vertigo of ascent you'll see how far you've come compared not to everyone walking by your side, but to that unique place you started from. @amnotpoetry
It's that time of year again to stash away the modesty and go digging through the neatly (ha!) folded t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts. One by one I extract them, slide each sundress down the line, but this year I cannot find that confidence I swear I had last year, although I know it must be here somewhere. Ah! There it is, sidled next to that one-piece bathing suit. Too bad it seems that neither fits quite the way I remember. Like stubborn children, my thighs cling at the fabric, begging: "Please don't let us go." And though I promise: "You'll do fine," I cant help but second guess, maybe, it'd be best if we just hide here inside these jeans a little longer. @amnotpoetry
keep yourself distracted do your CBT be on alert for distortions tune into reality have some self compassion make yourself a tea lock the bathroom door while the kids watch tv prioritize your committments schedule in a break sneak away when daddy's home and walk down to the lake see the violent dancing waves frothing as they crest imagine the water rushing in to fill the hollow in your chest blink away temptation and watch the swallows soar carefully count your breaths as you balance along the shore walk that tightrope line all around the bay see it stretched beneath your feet every single day kiss the kids goodnight get ready for tomorrow journal all your gratitudes into guilts for your sorrow wake with the dawn smile and try your best do it all again eventually there'll be rest write another poem but try hard not to whine tack on a clever ending and everything will turn out fine
we do not birth stones all things born must bend like stubborn weeds through concrete young sapling hearts pliable and tender dancing bending bowing fragile and resilient but charcoal was once a tree whose dancing was burned away we must not forget that hardened hearts are manufactured that the flames they spread started not with them nor will they be their end but charcoal when not alight can also soften into an artist's pen there is no hardness stronger than our ability to bend
Once more the venomous refrain comes to plague my weary brain: I am nothing. I am nothing. I am nothing. But I have found within each poison note lies concealed the antidote: I am I am I am So if upon your ears alight her onerous whispers in the night: You are nothing. You are nothing. You are nothing. Find the truth within the lie and perchance upon your lullaby: You are You are You are @amnotpoetry
You can also find my poetry on Instagram:
A random list of confessions:
-I read books out loud when I’m alone. And by read, I mean “act out emphatically.”
-Sometimes I tell my kids “no” when they ask for a cookie, and then eat one when they aren’t looking. It’s kind of a power trip.
-I struggle to read fiction about violence lately. And cheating. And prejudice. And death.
-I struggle to read or watch anything lately.
-In grade 9 I had a crush on my stage manager. Until now, I’ve only ever told one person about her.
-I think superheroes are the problem, not the solution.
-I’m pretty sure you don’t like me. You think I’m an annoying flake. Not you as in anyone specific, just specifically you.
-I think you’re right.
-I’m still sore about not beating my ex-boyfriend at Mortal Kombat after he assumed I hadn’t seen the movies because I’m a girl. “You wouldn’t get it,” he said.
-I didn’t read most of the books in university and still managed a decent grade. Most of the books were about war and rape.
-I’m very sensitive. Half of me thinks that makes me a better person, half thinks I’m just weak.
-I think you think I’m weak.
-I know you think I’m a disappointment because I decided to graduate without my honours. “A waste of potential.”
-I think it was the right decision.
-I want to succeed as a writer so you think it was the right decision.
-I think it was the right decision.
-I don’t trust my own opinion on anything.
-In grade 3, I brought a snow globe I loved for show and tell. I put it in my pocket and it broke during recess. On the bus home everyone thought I peed myself and laughed, but I refused to tell them the truth because I was so ashamed.
-I talk about myself so much not because I’m full of myself, but because I’m so empty and I think your validation will fill me. Probably there’s a hole somewhere I should fix.
-I’m not sure if this is a poem about me or you.
-I’m not sure this is a poem.
-I think raisin cookies are better than chocolate chip ones.
Before the pandemic I attended community potlucks. I folded my anxiety into a handkerchief, something to fiddle with in my pocket, as I planted the seeds of friendship. After the pandemic the potlucks were cancelled. Some members came out anti-science and my seeds have all failed to yield anything more than broken confidence. Before the pandemic I made my first ever parent friends. We met at the park most mornings, shared meals once a week, and took turns filling oxygen tanks. After the pandemic the housing market got so hot they left the country to cool down. Parks and tanks are left empty now and my lungs are learning to adapt. Before the pandemic we had library and market days. Familiar places, friendly faces, comforting routine and connection. A safety net of welcome and belonging. After the pandemic we found desks, stalls, and smiles vacant. I stretch my anxiety around my neck, a scarf to protect against the chill, and let my husband do the talking. Before the pandemic I didn't have many friends to talk to, but I called my Granny every day. After the pandemic I watched her get sick. Her number doesn't reach her anymore. Before the pandemic panic attacked once or twice a year. After the pandemic it has learned to hunt in packs. Before the pandemic nausea, dizziness and pain meant I was coming down with something. After the pandemic they mean that I am awake. Before the pandemic my husband and I talked about growing old together. After the pandemic he wonders if I'll make it through the week. Before the pandemic I believed in a future. After the pandemic. After the pandemic. When is After the pandemic? Before the pandemic there was no Before or After. Before the pandemic I didn't need to wait for an ending to begin. Before the pandemic is gone. And all we have to work with is now. At least that much hasn't changed.
If you want to check out the visual version of this poem and a lot of other poems that haven’t made it on the blog yet, make sure to check out my Instagram account @amnotpoetry.
Mid-autumn shrinking of days:
waves of midnight blue
lapping an island of grey cloud.
I watch their constant approach
and retreat, and think of how
my Granny used to call them the
longest days of the year.
To wake in the time-shrouding
darkness and not to know
whether you’ve slept early or late,
to pass the hours in a smothering
dimness that seems to seep
into the tiniest crack and expand
so that every interaction,
every experience, is muffled and flat.
I pretend this embrace is a comfort,
isolation an inspiration, but it is not.
I want to make beautiful things,
to weave words into brightness
that can outshine the fog,
cleave the day in two the way
my Granny’s phone calls used to.
Yet here I am complaining
about the weather because
the days are just too short.
Or maybe they’re too long.
Or maybe my Granny was wrong
and the days aren’t longer or shorter,
but heavier, so that even though
we carry them the same distance,
we are consumed in the effort.
And her calls made them so much
lighter because, for a while,
I didn’t have to carry them alone.