And how their stories would fall apart
if girls said “no” and screamed and swore.
To think what would happen
If we wore ballet shoes into battle
and didn’t need a sword.
If our voices didn’t sing a song so sweet
but said “fuck off,” and let them bow at our feet.
And I guess that is a terrifying thought,
to know what truth would appear
With resistance and power galore
If we didn’t allow them to write our stories for us anymore.
Above I have created a continuation of Nikita Gill’s poem, “Girls of the Wild.” In Gill’s poem, she states that you simply will not hear stories about women who rebel, who state their strength and embrace it, who change the world. And she’s right. The only women who are praised are those who are the least challenging to work with. The free thinkers and rebels and leaders alike will not be glamorized because that kind of behavior is hard to control and harder to predict. There’s a popular quote that states, “We are the granddaughters of the witches they forgot to burn,” and I believe that some sort of inherent wildness is evoked in Gill’s poem. To imagine the collective roar of people who are routinely voiceless isn’t something of fairytales- it’s something of now.
This poem by Rupi Kaur is showing that faith can be found anywhere. Traditionally, many people think of a god when they think of a church or a temple. However, in the opening lines of Kaur’s poem she makes it clear that is not always the case. Kaur says that her god is is found in refugees, starving children, and the sweat of prostitutes. Colloquially, these are some of the least holy things imaginable. However, because Kaur finds her god there, readers may begin to wonder why.
Kaur may find her god in these things because they are not usually thought of as a symbol of faith. She may find faith where it is needed the most. And who more needful than the refugees? The starving children? The prostitutes? Because Kaur states, “my god is not as unreachable as they’d like you to think,” it can lead one to the conclusion that she finds god in these things because these people are the ones who are led to believe that god is not for them. The pain and suffering and isolation and shame may inspire her because if even the people in these situations have the strength to persevere, then she can find it too.
Unsolicited Adcive to West Virginia Children, after Neil Hilborn
If you do not believe that West Virginia is beautiful, you clearly haven’t been outside.
It is beautiful in the fall, trees surrounding you as if you’re in the middle of the most beautiful crayon box imaginable.
It is beautiful in the summertime stickiness of children eating popsicles that melt too fast for them on the porch. It is beautiful in the matriarchs that laugh while the children eat.
It is gorgeous in the winter, the mountain tops covered in snow and untouched. It feels private. People ice skate on ponds and dare each other to go out farther and farther.
In the spring, when everything comes to life,
if I believed in God I would thank him. Those small innocent flower buds and the sprouting stretching trees are almost overwhelming.
I live in the city now. The buildings are old and gray and the people are kind and grayer.
If you think that school can teach you how to love, how to handle bewilderment, I’m sorry, but no.
Take a hike, ask your grandmother to tell stories, shake hands with a coal miner, with his wife, learn that our stereotype leaves out everything beautiful.
And go find it.
In the original poem, Hilborn describes the beautiful things in Minnesota found in unsuspecting places, and encourages the children he is addressing to take advantage of it because it will be gone soon. Because I love West Virginia and would argue, never having been to Minnesota, that it is more beautiful and grandiose than anywhere else, in my poem I described the beauty of this state found in unsuspecting places, and then encourage people to go and find that beauty themselves. By using Hilborn’s poem as a mentor text, I attempted to capture the fleeting beauty of my state, similar to the way he has.
This poem tells simply about love. The part of love that can sometimes feel more like work than vacation. Sometimes love is being hungry when you are full. If you are not willing to stretch your stomach and chew and swallow, you do not have love; you have a meal. Many people believe that they love someone, or want to love someone, because they like the idea of it. Hell, don't we all? But in this poem, the author cautions the readers about all of the implications love brings. It seems as though he is giving this advice to someone before they enter a relationship, warning them that they may not be capable of loving to the degree that the person they are seeking deserves.
In this poem, love seems scary. This is not a love poem nor an anti love poem, but it highlights the scarier parts of love that make people uneasy. What if it fails? What if you cannot do it well enough? This realness, the nervousness and anxiousness that is all too often accompanied by loving another, is what makes this poem worth reading.
From a Daughter Leaving Home
Even on a wobbling bicycle, nothing could feel undsturdy with you beside me
even if it seemed as though I sped away, truth is I didn't know how to use the brakes yet
this bike ride has been fast and scary
I may still be learning how to steer
my wave is not one of dismissal
but a silent plea disguised as five fingers
no matter how good a cyclist I become
leave me somewhere to store my bike.
In the original poem, the author is writing to express the way that being proud of their daughter quickly turned into fearing her fierce independence, afraid that it signaled the end of their usefulness as a parent. In my response poem, I wrote from the perspective of a daughter who is about to leave home, continuing the metaphor of a bike to say that even though independence may grow, the bond between family is not at stake.
By Donna-Marie Riley
If you need another exhibit of war
Let me show you.
War has brown hair
War's mother teaches English
War is a small town.
War is what finds you if God doesn't
when God doesn't.
Sometimes war looks a lot like me
sometimes it looks like them.
War calls me a lone wolf
kicks rocks at me on the sidewalk
tells me I think too much about death.
War's mother harasses me on Facebook.
Or war can be silent
War finds me in the absence of love
in their absence
When you are less part friend than collectors item
War is what they leave me alone with.
War is here.
Just look at me.
by Clint Smith.
I believe I have been the meteor.
Lost myself in the wind
trailed closely by the whispers of "not from here. Not from here. You do not belong-"
I wonder if the meteors know they will burn. If they tack the memories on to themselves to find comfort in their last, firey minutes of existing.
Maybe I am not the meteor I thought I was.
Instead, let me be the tsunami.
Allow me to throw myself at a place with all of my being.
Do tsunamis know that they will wash away everything but the hurt?
I have crashed myself onto the shore countless times. Filled my mouth with debris
Called it love
Created this cacophonous mess of somewhere I could never escape and everywhere I can never be from.
if a meteor crash landed in the ocean
it would look a whole lot
Up to this point in my life, everyone has been searching for a box comfortable enough to hole up in, to fold up the top and never look for light anywhere else. Recently, I've begun breaking down the parts of my own boxes. I love writing poetry, I love doing yoga. I love hot tea and apple cider. I love fall and fires and sunsets and cloudy days. But that is not all there is to my story. I also love being a weight lifter. I love lipstick and leather jackets. I love piercings and motorcycle boots and playing lacrosse. I love chemistry.
Recently, I've been attempting to love something other than the things I have just listed: myself. Jessie Van Eerden said once during a conference, "You cannot stay somewhere that does not feed the secret side of you." This is exactly what I have been doing. I had been denying myself the simple act of existing as a full person, of being both hard and soft. It is possible to be a badass and still smile. It is possible to be both a lover and a fighter. With that, I'll ask you this: Who would you be if you unboxed yourself? What happens when you stop telling yourself no?
Love and growth,
Fighter. Lover. Create happiness where none exists.