October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month…so…

…I couldn’t let the month slide by without posting my poem on the subject:

I DIDN’T WANNA WRITE THIS PIECE

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you describe an abusive relationship?
How many times can you tell that story?
Who wants to hear or read about that – AGAIN?
From Chris Brown to Beau Willie Brown
it is a tale as old as time.
Whether it’s the old school “pimp slap”,
being fed daily meals of strategic isolation from family and friends
with side orders of emotional abandonment,
or just constantly being called out your name —
it’s all the same.
And I hate being repetitious.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you say
“I had low self esteem”
“I didn’t love myself”
“I didn’t think anyone else could ever love me”
How many times can you say
“I needed him”
“I thought it would get better”
“I let my standards fall to the ground”.
And even if you truly were in just that much pain,
feeling that much shame,
and didn’t want to give him the blame
you’ll still be some dumb bitch who didn’t have sense enough to kill that muthafucka
the first time he put hands on you!
And I didn’t kill him – I let him live.
So…
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
Hell, I probably started it.
Haven’t you heard?
Women have equal rights now.
And because we are the most expert button-pushers
on the planet we are just as entitled to be punched
as men are.
Shouldn’t get mad ‘cuz he finished what you started.
And yes,
It does make some kind of
toxic and violent sense in my head that if I hit him first I deserve what comes after….
But in the real world,
that almost-but-not-quite-correct
rationalization
didn’t hold much weight for him
at the police station
or for me
in the emergency room.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
(lowering my voice)
Just between you and me…
Have you seen those abused women
in the shelters and at those meetings?
Those are some hella ugly heffas!
Well, what I’m saying is they aren’t the most attractive bunch of ladies.
You can’t be too surprised that they couldn’t get any better than some insecure asshole.
And honestly…
ain’t I too attractive to be abused?
Don’t I seem too magnificent to be mistreated?
Too bad to be battered?
Too cute to be cussed out?
Too nice to be name-called?
Should I be put down
whenever I come around?
(I conveniently ignore the real question…am I too fly to die?)
I’m pretty sexy, don’t you think?
Fucking me with all the lights on is not a problem.
How would I look running to some…
I don’t know…place to get…HELP…
with my soft and well spoken tones,
my mani-pedi, my good benefited job
my MAC lip gloss and my strappy stiletto heels.
Look at me!
Do I look like I should eva have to lie
about a blackened eye?
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…

Let’s just put the shitty stereotype out there,

okay?
I am a Black sista!
Strong sista!
Kinky hair and rounded ass!
Blood of the ancestors,
the an-ses-tas,
the an-SIS-TAS
flowing through my veins!
All the strong women that went before me
CorrettaScottKingHarrietTubmanSojournerTruthRosaParksBettyShabazz
Superwomen whose legacy I have soiled
with my inability to dial 911,
file a complaint,
press charges,
keep a court date,
change a lock,
seek/abide by a restraining order,
hire a crackhead to beat his ass
or just shoot that muthafucka!
Then you gotta look all these
modern day Superwoman bytches in the face.
You know the ones.
Miss “I wouldn’t neva let a man put his hands on me”
Miss “What is wrong with you? Wouldn’t be me dealing with that mess!”
Miss “If he touch me he betta kill me.”
Miss “Gurl, you ain’t got no rat poison in the house?”
Madea offering you hot grits, cast iron skillets and baseball bats.
Miss Sophia In Da Hood shoutin’
“I lubs DayQuan, gawd knows I do but I kill ‘em dead if he eva beat me!”
And you know what the worst part is?
Some of them look like they really could kick a man’s ass!
Amazon warriors in spirit, and sometimes in the flesh!
Some of them MIGHT be able to go toe to toe with a man, and if he did manage to win
he’d be breathing mighty hard when it was done.
But I’m not that one…
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
No one wants to hear the ugly truth about why
I don’t leave for good.
Most don’t say it, won’t say it.
But I know I never will get free
if I don’t try to speak on what’s binding me.
It is mentioned in vulgar euphemisms
if at all. But…..
It’s my addiction
to his DICK-tion!
Get it?
See…look at you
giving me the side eye!
That side eye is the reason why
I bear this burden alone.
I am the dirty butt
of a dirty joke
that ain’t the least bit funny
though everyone laughs like it is.
No one will tell me
how to cut ties with
the sex that has me so vexed.
Yes I need to be confessing it!
But no one wants to help me with addressing it!
How the way we make love is to make war first.
Now our battles are the foreplay
and the sex is the victory dance.
And we both win and lose
all at the same time.
The orgasms he can make
rain down in me
numb my brain
and ease my pain
adrenalin rushing
through my veins.
Serotonin soaking my cerebellum seeping into my soul
until it is bathed in sweet scented amnesia.
You don’t understand how him
inside me
makes it all make sense.
Body fucked hard, yes!
But mind fucked harder….oh baby yes!
It’s the spoonful of sugar that makes
his medicine go down. DOWN.
Like I have.
And since it can never truly be spoken
that its his sex game that got me so open
even long after everything else about us has died…
I accept my punishment for my love of the pleasures of his flesh
no matter what that punishment is.
Because feeling this way, makes me the weakest woman of all.
And I deserve what I get…right?
Right?
Well…say SOMETHING!

Yeah I know.
What can you say?
I know what you’re thinking of me.
But you know what?
Your silent judgment is the REAL reason why
I didn’t wanna write
this piece.

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Domestic Violence and me…

At one time I was involved with a man that was physically abusive. It was a long time ago, over 15 years ago. It was one of my first serious relationships. I met him through a personal ad in the daily paper. He was good looking, well spoken, intelligent, and an intensely wonderful lover. I loved him with every molecule of my flesh, heart and soul. I loved him to the marrow of my bones, from the follicles of my hairline to the atoms of my toenails. I loved him. All I wanted was him, and for us to be together forever.

On a few occasions this man struck me with his hand. He did not do any permanent damage, but it left me bruises that I had to lie to my family, friends and co-workers about. We broke up after a few of these incidents.

To this day I am not entirely sure how that experience has affected my dealings with men. I can’t say it has made me gun shy, or unwilling to get involved with men, because I have done so since he and I parted company. And I enjoyed most of those relationships very much. But I sometimes wonder if that experience has created a thin, impenetrable, permanent layer of mistrust where men are concerned. Not quite enough to totally hinder my interaction with them, but just enough to keep me from making anything stick permanently.

I never went to therapy after the incidents, although he did for a while. I have since forgiven him, and today he and I are cordial. I haven’t felt the need to revisit those times with him in conversation. I don’t think about it very often. It doesn’t haunt me or keep me up at night or anything like that. The memories of the specific incidents themselves are blurry at best. I have openheartedly accepted the sincere apologies he’s offered many times over the years since it happened, and I don’t harbor any ill will towards him. I can honestly say I wish him the best. Most times I genuinely feel I have closure with it.

But then I wrote this poem…and suddenly I didn’t feel so certain anymore.

The only time I have ever done anything in my writing to acknowledge this experience is in this poem I wrote called “I Didn’t Wanna Write This Piece”.  It only depicts a few aspects of our tumultuous relationship, because the poem would be pages long if I got into everything and no one would want to read it or hear it. It only talks about one aspect of our dysfunctional dealings with each other, but it discusses the aspect that most women seem unwilling to address.

I attempted to perform it once at a poetry reading. I was one of two features scheduled to do at least 20 minutes of my work, 30 minutes tops. This piece was my third selection. I managed to get through it, but I felt horrible inside. My cheeks burned red, I felt painfully and awkwardly transparent and embarrassed – this from a woman who does hardcore, graphic erotic poems onstage for money. I mean…I say “clit” onstage for cash, okay? I attempted to feign bravado, but I couldn’t. Tears began to burn my eyes. I looked up at the audience, and they were staring at me intensely. I remember in particular there was the one brownskinned woman with locs in the front row. I had seen her at other shows I had done, and she was there just nodding her head at me as I spoke. She just nodded and nodded, and occasionally she shook her head. I felt her eyes burning through me. I felt her spirit watching me. I finished the poem, and there was that moment of hesitation before the applause came. I felt so uncomfortable afterwards that I cut the rest of my set extremely short – I did one more poem after this one, excused myself from the podium and left the venue, much to the confusion of the host who had invited me. I just couldn’t go on. It was all too much. To this day I have never explained to the host what happened or why I behaved so badly.

It is my plan to return this piece to a future set of poems I am working on. The first time I am able to do this piece without shaking, choking up, or wanting to run and hide or scream and cry will be a major step for me. But until then – here is my domestic violence poem entitled “I Didn’t Wanna Write This Piece”.

********

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you describe an abusive relationship?
How many times can you tell that story?
Who wants to hear or read about that – AGAIN?
From Chris Brown to Beau Willie Brown
it is a tale as old as time.
Whether it’s the old school “pimp slap”,
being fed daily meals of strategic isolation from family and friends
with side orders of emotional abandonment,
or just constantly being called out your name —
it’s all the same.
And I hate being repetitious.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you say
“I had low self esteem”
“I didn’t love myself”
“I didn’t think anyone else could ever love me”.
How many times can you say
“I needed him”
“I thought it would get better”
“I let my standards fall to the ground”.
And even if you truly were in just that much pain,
feeling that much shame,
and didn’t want to give him the blame
you’ll still be some dumb bitch who didn’t have sense enough to kill that muthafucka
the first time he put hands on you!
And I didn’t kill him – I let him live.
So…
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
Hell, I probably started it.
Haven’t you heard?
Women have equal rights now.
And because we are the most expert button-pushers
on the planet we are just as entitled to be punched
as men are.
Shouldn’t get mad ‘cuz he finished what you started.
And yes,
it does make some kind of
toxic and violent sense in a part of my head

that if I hit him first

I deserve what comes after….
But in the real world,
that almost-but-not-quite-correct
rationalization
didn’t hold much weight for him
at the police station
or for me
in the emergency room.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
(lowering my voice)
Just between you and me…
Have you seen those abused women
in the shelters and at those meetings?
Those are some hella ugly heffas!
Well, what I’m saying is they aren’t the most attractive bunch of ladies.
You can’t be too surprised that they couldn’t get any better than some insecure asshole

who used their bodies for punching bags

and faces for target practice.
And honestly…
ain’t I too attractive to be abused?
Don’t I seem too magnificent to be mistreated?
Too bad to be battered?
Too cute to be cussed out?
Too nice to be name-called?
Should I be put down
whenever I come around?
(I conveniently ignore the real question…am I too fly to die?)
I’m pretty sexy, don’t you think?
Fucking me with all the lights on is not a problem.
How would I look running to some…
I don’t know…place to get…HELP…
with my soft and well spoken tones,
my mani-pedi, my good benefited job
my MAC lip gloss and my strappy stiletto heels.
Look at me!
Do I look like I should eva have to lie
about a blackened eye?
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…

Let’s just put the shitty stereotype out there,

okay?
I am a Black sista!
Strong sista!
Kinky hair and rounded ass!
Blood of the ancestors,
the an-ses-tas,
the an-SIS-TAS
flowing through my veins!
All the strong women that went before me
CorrettaScottKingHarrietTubmanSojournerTruthRosaParksBettyShabazz
Superwomen whose legacy I have soiled
with my inability to dial 911,
file a complaint,
press charges,
keep a court date,
change a lock,
seek/abide by a restraining order,
hire a crackhead to beat his ass
or just shoot that muthafucka!
Then you gotta look all these
modern day Superwoman bytches in the face.
You know the ones.
Miss “I wouldn’t neva let a man put his hands on me”
Miss “What is wrong with you? Wouldn’t be me dealing with that mess!”
Miss “If he touch me he betta kill me.”
Miss “Gurl, you ain’t got no rat poison in the house?”
Madea offering you hot grits, cast iron skillets and baseball bats.
Miss Sophia In Da Hood shoutin’
“I lubs DayQuan, gawd knows I do but I kill ‘em dead if he eva beat me!”
And you know what the worst part is?
Some of them look like they really could kick a man’s ass!
Amazon warriors in spirit, and sometimes in the flesh!
Some of them MIGHT be able to go toe to toe with a man, and if he did manage to win
he’d be breathing mighty hard when it was done.
But I’m not that one…
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
No one wants to hear the ugly truth about why
I don’t leave for good.
Most don’t say it, won’t say it.
But I know I never will get free
if I don’t try to speak on what’s binding me.
It is mentioned in vulgar euphemisms
if at all. But…..
It’s my addiction
to his DICK-tion!
Get it?
See…look at you
giving me the side eye!
That side eye is the reason why
I bear this burden alone.
I am the dirty butt
of a dirty joke
that ain’t the least bit funny
though everyone laughs like it is.
No one will tell me
how to cut ties with
the sex that has me so vexed.
Yes I need to be confessing it!
But no one wants to help me with addressing it!
How the way we make love is to make war first.
Now our battles are the foreplay
and the sex is the victory dance.
And we both win and lose
all at the same time.
The orgasms he can make
rain down in me
numb my brain
and ease my pain
adrenalin rushing
through my veins.
Serotonin soaking my cerebellum seeping into my soul
until it is bathed in sweet scented amnesia.
You don’t understand how him
inside me
makes it all make sense.
Body fucked hard, yes!
But mind fucked harder….oh baby yes!
It’s the spoonful of sugar that makes
his medicine go down. DOWN.
Like I have.
And since it can never truly be spoken
that its his sex game that got me so open
even long after everything else about us has died…
I accept my punishment for my love of the pleasures of his flesh
no matter what that punishment is.
Because feeling this way, makes me the weakest woman of all.
And I deserve what I get…right?
Right?
Well…say SOMETHING!

Yeah I know.
What can you say?
I know what you’re thinking of me.
But you know what?
Your silent judgment is the REAL reason why
I didn’t wanna write
this piece.