Breaking Poems

Villanelle for Malala

In silence or in courage, death will come.

Malala used her voice to say “I am,”

and knew she’d have to pay a ghastly sum.
A trigger pulled, the beat of one mad drum,

it only made the voices’ reach expand.

In silence or in courage, death will come.
They sing so soft in darkness, strains of hums

that teach the girls to write down their demands;

they know they may well pay a ghastly sum.
The whispers start, they know they have become

too fierce a squall to not pick up the sand.

In silence or in courage, death will come.
They go to school to seek their freedom from

the dark, the land, the backwards law of man.

They know they may well pay a ghastly sum.
An equal footing may inspire bedlam,

in time the men will start to understand:

In silence or in courage, death will come.

She knew it would be worth that ghastly sum.

“I had two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up,” Malala said in “Malala’s moment: Nobel Prize winner speaks out ” – Dec. 10, 2014


Age of consent

No means yes if you know how to spot it.

All ladies will test you, those trifling harlots.

Deep down they’re dying to be your next target,

so don’t let “no” stop you, you throw down that gauntlet.
Remember when romance meant taking, not talking?

The girls out there now would find us quite shocking.

In those days we didn’t put up with cock-blocking.

If this lady’s demurring, don’t come a-knocking.
They secretly want it, don’t ask for consent.

She wore that dress, you know what she meant.

The cops will believe your stated intent,

because bitches are known to misrepresent.

 “How many guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it?”Rush Limbaugh, Sept. 2014


They laugh with their feet

In another part of town

the houses twinkle

and light pours from windows.

Their floors are warm,

and discussions linger

on full parking lots,

bonuses and sales,

and whose party to turn down.

Polite laughter at puns,

a chuckle at a TV clown,

they go to bed restless,

with muscles unspent.
In our home,

with its single string of lights

in the front window,

and space heaters near the beds,

we laugh long and loud at each other.

It can nourish us

on hard days.

We laugh with our feet,

a loud dance of joy

The truth can be cold,

we warm it with our breath.

“Poor people laugh harder than rich people. Especially black people, they laugh with their feet, too.”– Chris Rock in a great interview for New York Magazine, Nov. 30, 2014


Feature photograph by Martin Schoeller via

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