Friday, November 15, 2019


There's no room left
at this table
cuz all the women
and girls too
are sitting here

I am
she is
you are

The ones who are positive
it happened to them
the ones who
aren't quite certain
so they came to hear
the myriad stories
and get confirmation
the ones who are sure
it never happened to them
so some came to support
others came to judge
shame us for letting it happen
letting them get away with it
when they heard
among the tales
a familiar tune
with explicit lyrics
that triggered their memory
they realized
me too
is them

We're all here
praising each other
for our courage
our strength
shedding tears
of relief
when we learn
that her story
and theirs
is ours

All this time
we thought
we were the only one
cuz when we tried
telling someone
not at this table
we were scorned
laughed at
called too sensitive
accused of "trippin'"
or lying
everything but

Sexual violence
often begins
as sexual harassment

It's as much verbal
and silent
as it is physical

It's all the things that happen
even if rape
is never the intention

unwanted verbal advances
from a boy
or a man
love notes
you don't love
that never stop
from the one
you don't love
who doesn't care
that you don't wanna
love him

Being badgered
about dates
inundated with calls and texts
when you've already said no

Inappropriate comments
about your body
that make you feel
and felt-up

Lewd glances
long, lascivious stares
a crooked
smile with
peekaboo flickering tongue
accompanied by
steeped in a salacious glint

Being called
every outta-pocket name
they can think of
when you rebuff
their advances
maybe even
being spit at
or on
having items
thrown at you
whatever their pleasure
at your expense

Just because your body
has never been raped
doesn't mean
your mind and spirit

where you goin'?

Come back
this seat
has your name on it

Don't you see it?

I don't mean
to sound insensitive but
you belong here
with the rest of us
I saw your eyes
go dark
your soul
when I spoke
your experience
we're here for you

I hate
that this fucking table
that it's teeming
cuz none of us
have been exempt
not even these little girls

Why they gotta fuck with the little girls?

that the space between us
is so minuscule
that our elbows graze
and we can smell
all of our offenders' names
on each other's breath
that we need more seats
for those
who haven't arrived

This isn't the way
I want us women
to be bonding
finding commonality
connecting our hearts

This shit ain't fun
these tears ain't joyful
our stories don't have
happy endings
what we have here
is a failure
to be respected
so what we do here
is find ways to love
and forgive ourselves
for the ways we've laid blame
on ourselves
for being women
who just wanted to make it
through the day
without their eyes
and hands
on us
but didn't
so instead
we're here
holding each other close
holding each other in prayer
holding each other in high esteem
learning how to hold them accountable
learning how to hold ourselves

If this table
is the only place
you feel safe and heard
seen and appreciated
if it's the place where
you can assess
the mileage on your heart
from all the detours
they told you
were par for the course
I mean deviations—
you shouldn't be
complaining about
if you can
unpack and sort out
the fear
that keeps you from
speaking your truth
seeking justice
and taking back your power
as much animosity
as I have
for this tainted pulpit
I say

come through
don't hesitate
we will always
make room

©2019 Charlene E. Green

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Her Winning Life

Next to your fighting spirit
Your smile was the strongest part of you

The sprawl
Of your beam
Held a gallant celebration
Of life
Even amid your worries
When your mind
Played sad songs
And your body
Sometimes tried
To stop dancing

Though your frame was small
The prayer and perseverance
You constantly fueled it with
Made you a giant champion
And with that glowing smile
Lighting the path
Along your journey
You always saw a way
To tackle any obstacle
Trying to keep you
From the joyous life
You intended to live
And the people
Whose hearts you planned
To soften and heal
With its warmth

Although your visit
To this realm
Is now over
You left your smile behind
To remind us
That no matter what the road
We're traveling looks and feels like
No matter how many sad songs
May play as we travel
Or how often our bodies
Get low on spiritual fuel
Or even try to stop dancing altogether
If we too
Prioritize our grin
Use it to soften life’s blows
People’s hearts
And light the way
Along our own path
We will
At the end of our trip 
Have successfully guided ourselves
Into the next realm
As victors
Who loved
And completed our mission 
With no regrets

 ©2019 Charlene E. Green
For Curita Harris-Harper