The Things I Would Tell You

If you asked I would tell you 1 in 3 of us have been subjected to sexual violence.

I would tell you it doesn’t have to define you.
I would tell you, it wasn’t your fault.
Don’t protest, it was definitely not your fault.

I’d tell you that blaming yourself absolves the perpetrator of responsibility,
I’d tell you it was their decision not yours.

I’d tell you that things can and often do get better.

I’d tell you 40 is better than 20.
Although you bones hurt more.

I’d tell you holding onto shame will eat you alive.
I’d tell you that anger can be positive.
I’d tell you, you don’t have to be nice to people who abuse you.

I’d tell you, you have way more power than think you do.

I’d tell you to stop concentrating on your flaws and see your beauty.

I’d tell you comparison is the thief of joy,
I’d tell you instagram quotes make me roll my eyes

I’d tell you that sometimes I struggle to get out of bed,
I’d tell you this is normal.
I’d tell you no-one can be happy, or motivated or “on it” 100% of the time.

I’d tell you that everyone, ever-y one,¬†thinks it’s only them who struggles.

I’d tell you that work is not everything although you need to pay the bills.

I’d tell you that your teenage children, despite moaning and grumbling, wish you’d talk to them more but your phone gets in the way.

I’d tell you to warn them that jealousy is not romantic,
I’d tell you to warn them the way someone feels does not justify their behaviour,
I’d tell you to warn them that “trust issues” is code for domestic abuse.

I’d tell you that abuse thrives in secrecy.

I’d tell you we shouldn’t carry the shame for the actions of others.

I would tell you am the 1 in 3.

But you didn’t ask.

Facebook Fatigue

Bali is covered in trash again.
Click sad face. Move on.

Another person declares “me too”.
Hit angry face. Move on.

Donald Trump threatens North Korea.
Post a meme. Move on.

King tides devastate Majuro.
Type “stay safe”. Move on.

Neo-nazism on the rise again.
Tweet angrily. Move on.

100 dead in a suicide bomb.
Thoughts and prayers. Move on.

I know that this may sound cynical,
In a poem that’s supposed to be inspirational,
And I hope that it is generational,
That justice seems to unattainable,
And our inaction so un-explainable,
On issues so containable,

That we,
Just click a button,
Bury our heads
And move on.

Aylssa Cowell
January 2018
Jerudong International School Staff Poetry Slam Entry.
Theme was “Inspiration”.

 

The Poetry Slam: Challenge 1. Jan 2018.

I can feel my breathing getting shallower and quicker. I’m nervous. I never get nervous. Six teachers, well five teachers and me – the only female – are sat on stage in front of maybe 200 students and staff… well maybe 100 but the lecture theatre seems full. No one comes with a banner for me like they do for Mr DJ Hanks to my right. No one chants my name loudly in support like they do for Mr Sargent the PE teacher. But I get silent smiles and silently mouthed “go miss!” – which comes with the territory of school counsellor. My heart warms. I’m supposed to be second up and my name isn’t called, DJ Hanks is up instead. My nerves worsen. He has TWO poems. One that is quite serious and the other, a brilliantly funny shout-out to all his amazing students. I’m cursing myself for thinking no-one would take this seriously.

What if I forget my lines? You’ve practised this loads and your poem is on the floor

What if my legs give way and I fall over? You’ll be fine, your legs are fine

Why did I write something so cynical? Cos you’re a woman and a counsellor – they will be expecting fluffy

Why can’t you ever write anything warm and positive?! Hahahahahaha

Ah no, they’re calling my name… Deep breaths, deep breaths, you’ll be great…

I walk up to the mic – I should’ve taken it off the stand and walked with it. But I left it there. I feel exposed. My poem is on the floor. I open my mouth…

What is this voice?! Where is the confident, angry voice I rehearsed with?! What is this overly emotional, pleading, sounds like she is going to cry voice?! And why do I feel like I am going to cry?? It’s okay, it’s okay. Don’t cry, don’t cry. Dramatic pause after each line. Deep breath, regain your composure. Look at friendly faces in the crowd! Ms Thacker is over there and is smiling and nodding. Focus!!

I end without tears and have never been so glad to sit back down in my life. The host thanks me for “a particularly emotional performance”. I chuckle. I vow to never do this again.

I come third.

Maybe I will.