Don’t Hold My Head Down

Don’t Hold My Head Down

If you keep doing what you’ve always done

you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got

and you’ve always done

what makes someone else happy.

Stayed over when you felt you should have left,

wanted to say no but instead you said

‘maybe’ or ‘I don’t know yet’

till pressure turned it into a yes

or it was just conceived as one

when often silence is a siren song,

willing someone to listen

and notice something’s wrong

because there’s a voice here that lacks confidence

in saying what they need

and passive participation

just because the other person said please

doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for you,

and if you hesitate or have to convince yourself to act

then that’s your body saying

you don’t really want to do that,

it’s just hard to know how else the situation will pass

and one makes you uncomfortable for longer.

You don’t need to be stronger

because you aren’t weak

it’s just that you’ve learned through past experience

that it doesn’t matter if you scream out,

your consent is something people have forgotten about

and then your energy was spent on figuring out

how to get help

when it’s clear that no one hears you.

How do you turn up the volume

to a world that presumes

we all speak the same body language

and show fear in the same way?

Most women’s battle cries are first seen in their eyes

because it’s perceived as an easier option than refusal

to instead freeze or play friendly,

because appeasement is indoctrinated

from an early age

where we are taught that men are violent

and it’s not safe as an adult

to leave our house at night

without company,

keys between our finger tips,

not to style our hair in a manner

that someone could grip

because a man’s arousal is our responsibility

and when it’s seen as our fault then the consensus

expects us to do something about

that erection in his pants now,

and it doesn’t matter about reciprocation

or the years our ancestors fought

for our sexual liberation

because we’re a nation of porn users

waiting on Stormzy’s Vossi Bop, cum-shot, money-pot facial

that actress was obviously gagging for

just after the point that the man behind the camera

called her a whore, whilst another man

sticks his dick in her mouth

and holds her head down,

leaving the next generation in no doubt

that a quick internet search

will show the worth of a woman’s body

in the 21st century,

bent over a casting sofa

as three men penetrate her

and piss on her chest.

Society at its best, no holes left to fuck,

a president that brags of grabbing us by the pussy

and still his fucking time isn’t up.

Two girls one cup

because we’re forced to share the shit

that most men don’t want to be burdened with

because feminism doesn’t equate to being masculine

it just means you’re a pussy

to be in the minority

that stand in solidarity

with a woman’s authority over her own cunt.

On the cusp of a sexual revolution

but some still want the opportunity for a witch hunt,

like how 200 million women and girls have been cut,

it’s the new version of burning alive

because if the world gave women permission to have pleasure

it could satiate her life

in ways men don’t know how to satisfy.

So continue to feed her lies

about her lesser place in society

because really you’re worried

she’d be a threat to male survival as we know it.

Death of dependency in exchange for respect

where sex happens when we’re ready

and we’re free to lay down boundaries

and leave when it feels uneasy

because there’s no assumption

that by a certain number date

or in exchange for his undivided time

we’ll end up in his bed for the night,

sacrificing our needs to pacify a man’s pride

because we’re told that caring is in our genes.

The overarching theme that feeds

the means by which we put aside our desires,

burn out our fires

because having a libido just makes us sluts

and sex ends when the man cums

and we’ve always done

what makes someone else happy.

Home Educated

Home Educated

If my mother taught me anything

it was how the weak inherit the dirt

buried beneath the weight

of putting husbands first

and living through your children.

If my mother taught me anything

it was the chains of festering silence

tied to family secrets

the way you and my father screamed after dark

the way you feigned happiness in the morning.

If my mother taught me anything

it was to criticise my body

hate my own bones

till starving showed them through my skin

how you would be proud of me then.

If my mother taught me anything

it was the vicious birth

you called us sacrificial blood

threw money at the graves of those you slaughtered

expecting forgiveness and calling it love.

How Trauma Dresses at Daybreak

How Trauma Dresses at Daybreak

I woke this morning in parts,

making coffee with crossed wires

and crying coconut milk.

Washed my body in two minds;

one mine, one a critical mother,

blood weeping from cracks in her breast bone.

A broken mirror watches

as clothes are chosen with baggy fit for comfort,

pulled on with careful movements,

for the world cannot know

of the war I wear in my chest

when I am missing whole pieces of woman.

Red Shoes and Life Signs

Red Shoes and Life Signs

The famine started long before this soul could read,

letters giving way to patterns,

stolen colours mixed with second hand scraps

and fashioned as freedom.

A skin that falls away from the bones

to expose the starved sinews, weak from sneaking sensations

in all the wrong places.

Months spent as an empty shell

longing for the sea,

weighed down with sand and plastic wrappers;

cheap treasure, shallow digger.

All that tickles and thunders was buried deeper underground

but detecting only shadow signals

instinct gave way to injured impulse

and lay dying in final defence of the once courageous heart

who lost its rage to a captive life

in a weather-beaten cage and severed from the body,

power seeping out the cells into a muddy puddle on the floor.

But home is where the heart is,

even when it fights back at a crawl

this body will regrow limbs, applying medicines

to clot the blood back into these veins

and the whispers of the wild woman

will echo through each chamber of the heart,

breathing gulps of handmade air

just to howl at the moon.

Man Up

Man Up

I have worked with women

who love their men

even

as his hands grip her throat

and he gloats,

whilst watching her choke,

over how she takes him back

by the time he counts to ten.

I have seen the courage of women

who leave their men

alone

with pregnant belly and two children

in a land of words foreign,

she prays I answer my phone

and find her a safe home

where he’ll never touch them again.

I have felt the pain of women

caused by a system

that didn’t lock up their men;

he only raped her yesterday

and she tells me she’s okay

but the tears spilling down her cheeks

give her fear away

as a lack of evidence gave him his freedom.

Here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men.

All convinced that they knew them,

so now don’t all go thinking

that it could never happen

or you’d never let yourself

be in that situation

because we’re all in motion

on a spectrum

of tolerance and bystander inaction,

and to think

that those who get bruised

are any different

than you is fiction.

Being a victim

is not an addiction,

but a symptom

of the macho masculinity affliction

that sees violence

as an ever acceptable reaction,

or that too much testosterone

is the real problem

whilst breeding the notion

that this is the natural order of things

instead of asking the questions,

why do some men hurt women?

and why is violence such a deeply gendered phenomenon?

and why are these instead not defined

as gender crimes?

Worded as ‘women’s issues’ and ‘violence against women’

whilst men’s part in the process

is the invisible omission,

like there could be another explanation

to gender relations

and we just aren’t keeping up with the times.

So here I stand as a woman

standing with women

who are stood on by men,

and if you think

that you’re a good one of them,

then what are you doing

to be part of the solution?