everyone needs a good story

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 “expect sadness
 like
 you expect rain.
 both,
 cleanse you.”
 ―Nayyirah Waheed

IF I WERE A PHOENIX – found poem 9.28.17

Lighting a flame within me, all-consuming
like a candle to a mirror, a dark burning,
every step is an agony against the hands
marked “Justice.” I may know the dance
of destruction and whispered venoms.
I know the ropes bites. A spiritual battle,
I say to myself: Free me from this cage,
toward a brighter future and the woman
I was meant to be. I thought I’d lost steam,
was long down and out. But I can feel
the sweetness of breaking surface.
I only have the faintest notion of what
I’ve done. I will make it through this alive.
I feel like I’m praying from the Earth’s beginnings.
The body I live in, the only light for miles.
The motivation: that you do not burn me,
but that I burn myself. Fine. I fill this vacancy
with light. With my last breath, I tell myself
to survive. – mr

We’ve been working for the past few weeks on the personal and political. As we attempt to let the two cross over one another, we realize that there is a point where we just want to tell our own story – to let the personal be personal and sort out how it links to others, to the body politic later on. Mostly though, we just wish to be heard.

In the poem above, a found poem written from the lines of CRCF writers and facilitators, we see a speaker settle into their identity as a phoenix. The burn and resurrection occurs without apology. The other night, the writers at CRCF told their own stories without apology. They wrote and answered one another by just listening. Here are those stories, that you may listen too.

THE TIRED
The beautiful, extraordinary tired I have felt and known my whole life…

All started when I was a little girl. My parents got divorced when I was 2 which left me to live with my mom but visit at my dad’s every other weekend. I hated going to my dad’s because his new girlfriend and her 3 sons were so mean to me and my sister. Those boys, which become my stepbrothers, used to play pranks on my sister and I. I can specifically remember them lining up tacks outside my bedroom door so when I walked out of my room I stepped on them. Or like the day my dad finished making a tree house for us and boys took it over and kicked us out by throwing chairs down at us so we couldn’t climb up! I was soo tired of going there. THen we found out that my oldest stepbrother molested my sister. My mom took it to court and we could only visit my dad if it was at his mother’s house, my grammy! This was much better until he started drinking and leaving us at Grammy’s. Can you see the pattern already? I never really realized how young it started with me. Men always absent, violent, and/or addicted to something. So then, I got older and didn’t want to go to my grammy’s no more so I stopped going. During all this I began having boyfriends of my own that I thought at that time were serious relationships but now as I’m looking back on and writing about I can see that none of them were serious relationship nor were they healthy. Once again, more men that were controlling, addicted, and violent. I was so tired! Now I’m senior in high school, damn, graduating, and I was still searching for that man in my life. This is the time where I found myself with a guy who I was with for seven years. I had 2 children and a miscarriage with him. This is the asshole that got me addicted to drugs. This is the guy that hurt me sexually, physically, and emotionally. He’s the man that got me charges! At this point in my life, I didn’t think I could get any more tired than I already was. Next chapter in my life is when I met the man of my dreams! He is the father my kids needed and the man that I’d been searching for my entire life! We’ve been together for three years, got married last year, and we had a beautiful baby boy! He’s never hurt me and he takes care of me and our 3 children! And just when I didn’t think I could be anymore tired, we both got arrested and ended up here in jail.

SP

***
SURVIVAL

I tell myself to survive with every breath,
behind these cold, cement bricks,
the cold metal and the anger.

I tell myself to survive with every breath,
the loss of being without my kids,
the days of not being the mother
they need and the stress.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.
It’s almost over. You have made it
almost 2 and a half years. You’re almost done.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.
The doors will open and you will
really leave. You will start a new
begin for yourself and your kids.

I tell myself to survive with every breath.

LB

***

 

HALLOWEEN

I love everything about fall,
the smell of cider and apple,
the brisk air of spices,
the fall fashion,
sounds of leaves crunching beneath my feet
as I run into the arms of someone I love.
Leaf-peeping, raking leaves
to watch my child jump in,
pumpkin-carving,
costumes of everything under the moon:
skeletons, ghouls, witches, vampires, bees,
bears, lions, crayons, princesses.
Halloween, the day you can be
anyone you want to be.
Forget the somebody you used to be!
Get tons of fun treats.
Don’t forget to stay safe.
Walk on the sidewalk and check all candy.
There are evils in the this world that are not
just Halloween fright.
Halloween, beautiful cabbage babies
born every year.
A time to just let go, be happy!

KS

***
THE DANCE

I dance through life. So many, many dances. A merry, vicious twirl, ear to ear, venom so sweet. Watch the dancers skitter like drops of mercury, messengers themselves. A reel, my own reaction, when life, the universe and everything is no longer 42, but inexplicably 35 or 87. A jig, gleefully exalting to join a new battle, to refuse, hell no, to sit down and be quiet. When my wish is up, oh yes, I dance. A tango, a slide and drag of a seductively pointed leg, and a dance, a teasing, tempting dance is all that’s ever going to be because I will never tolerate a partner who thinks he’ll be allowed to head anywhere besides the dance floor. A mambo, a shimmying cha-cha-cha, bright and bewitching, delighting in movement and my own sense of humor, absolutely disregarding the danceless peons. A bellydance, done in secret to keep up the practice, refusing to let the roll of my hips ossify, the rules of this place and my own rolls or fat to be damned.
And isn’t than more than half of it? Their rules and the remarkably stupid judgment of others try to prevent me from this universal gift of dance, try to keep me from the soulish feast, try to keep me from letting my poor imprisoned heart free for even a time.
The Big Apple, the Charleston, the Jitterbug, a Can-can…I want to kick up my heels and forget, for a time, that I am here and while I’m here my heels and all the rest of me is owned by the State of Vermont and the Department of corrections. I want to pretend – for just a three minute vacation from this ghastly reality – that my life isn’t uniforms and a miserable bunk and lights that never go off and endless, stupid, pointless rules. I want to pretend that it’s dark and brightly neon and gauzily curtained and smoke-filled and rain swept and incense-choked and bright lights over a formica country and checkerboard black and white asphalt tile floor. I want to pretend that my beau has a dime for the jukebox, that he has his sitar and I’ve every intention of seducing him, that he’s bellowing in the DJ’s ear to play my favorite song. I want to escape within the confines of my mind because it’s so much bigger on the inside, because inside I’m not inside these accursed cinderblock walls. I’m dancing.

MR

 

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