Thursday, August 31, 2017


How Are You Not Free

This is what he asks me.
He wants a lesson
and he wants it for free

so today I’ll do the heavy lifting
I’ll stop again and talk about
death and health care
about reproductive rights
about a girl
who carried
her mattress around
an Ivy League school
just so someone
would believe her.

But it’s all white noise to him.
I don’t see it, he says.
I wave over here,
at the Black girl thrown to the
floor by the police, his knee on her
twelve year old neck
at the trans woman being humiliated
into the noose.
At the victim grilled on what she wore
what she drank
what she did wrong.

At the pitiful six month jail sentence.
The one that didn’t want to ruin the potential
of the young man but didn’t care
about the ruined woman.

I don’t see it, he says, shrugging.
I just don’t see it, he says.
Show me again.

Over here, I say,
the healthcare that saves lives
being stripped down for parts,
the legislation of the body
beaten raped groped touched
without consent, humiliated


Please listen, I say
just listen to what I’m saying.
Over here,
at the women paid less
docked for caring for her sick child
harassed by her supervisor

Or over here,
the woman who has to take the harassment
without flinching just to prove she’s worthy
that’s she just as tough as any guy.

I don’t see it, he says, walking away.
I just don’t get it.
All that fuss for what?
How are you not free, he asks me.

I gaze down at my body
the question hanging there forever
my form the very landscape of my pain.

Look, I say, as he walks away.
Look, there are scars that will never heal.

But he just keeps asking
How are you not free?
How are you not free?

are you not

--Ally Malinenko

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