Poetry competition CLOSED 11th November 2021 7:50am
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Feminist poetry

poet Anonymous

Poetry Contest

Write a feminist poem
Oxford Languages defines “feminism” as “the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Famous feminist poets include Audre Lorde, Margaret Atwood, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I've included an example of one of those writers’ feminist poems below.

I'm not going to lay down any rules other than don't be a dick. (Although having a dick is fine!) If you’re anti-feminist, you're free to share your anti-feminist poetry elsewhere.

***

Afterimages by Audre Lorde

   I
However the image enters
its force remains within
my eyes
rockstrewn caves where dragonfish evolve  
wild for life, relentless and acquisitive  
learning to survive
where there is no food
my eyes are always hungry
and remembering
however the image enters
its force remains.
A white woman stands bereft and empty
a black boy hacked into a murderous lesson  
recalled in me forever
like a lurch of earth on the edge of sleep  
etched into my visions
food for dragonfish that learn
to live upon whatever they must eat
fused images beneath my pain.

   II
The Pearl River floods through the streets of Jackson  
A Mississippi summer televised.
Trapped houses kneel like sinners in the rain
a white woman climbs from her roof to a passing boat  
her fingers tarry for a moment on the chimney  
now awash
tearless and no longer young, she holds  
a tattered baby's blanket in her arms.
In a flickering afterimage of the nightmare rain  
a microphone
thrust up against her flat bewildered words
         “we jest come from the bank yestiddy  
                  borrowing money to pay the income tax  
                  now everything's gone. I never knew  
                  it could be so hard.”
Despair weighs down her voice like Pearl River mud  
caked around the edges
her pale eyes scanning the camera for help or explanation
unanswered
she shifts her search across the watered street, dry-eyed  
                  “hard, but not this hard.”
Two tow-headed children hurl themselves against her  
hanging upon her coat like mirrors
until a man with ham-like hands pulls her aside  
snarling “She ain't got nothing more to say!”
and that lie hangs in his mouth
like a shred of rotting meat.

   III
I inherited Jackson, Mississippi.
For my majority it gave me Emmett Till  
his 15 years puffed out like bruises  
on plump boy-cheeks
his only Mississippi summer
whistling a 21 gun salute to Dixie
as a white girl passed him in the street  
and he was baptized my son forever  
in the midnight waters of the Pearl.

His broken body is the afterimage of my 21st year
when I walked through a northern summer
my eyes averted
from each corner's photographies  
newspapers protest posters magazines  
Police Story, Confidential, True  
the avid insistence of detail
pretending insight or information
the length of gash across the dead boy's loins
his grieving mother's lamentation  
the severed lips, how many burns  
his gouged out eyes
sewed shut upon the screaming covers  
louder than life
all over
the veiled warning, the secret relish  
of a black child's mutilated body  
fingered by street-corner eyes  
bruise upon livid bruise
and wherever I looked that summer
I learned to be at home with children's blood
with savored violence
with pictures of black broken flesh  
used, crumpled, and discarded  
lying amid the sidewalk refuse  
like a raped woman's face.

A black boy from Chicago
whistled on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi
testing what he'd been taught was a manly thing to do
his teachers
ripped his eyes out his sex his tongue
and flung him to the Pearl weighted with stone
in the name of white womanhood
they took their aroused honor
back to Jackson
and celebrated in a whorehouse
the double ritual of white manhood
confirmed.

   IV
   “If earth and air and water do not judge them who are
     we to refuse a crust of bread?”
     
Emmett Till rides the crest of the Pearl, whistling
24 years his ghost lay like the shade of a raped woman  
and a white girl has grown older in costly honor  
(what did she pay to never know its price?)
now the Pearl River speaks its muddy judgment  
and I can withhold my pity and my bread.

           “Hard, but not this hard.”
Her face is flat with resignation and despair  
with ancient and familiar sorrows
a woman surveying her crumpled future
as the white girl besmirched by Emmett's whistle  
never allowed her own tongue
without power or conclusion
unvoiced
she stands adrift in the ruins of her honor  
and a man with an executioner's face
pulls her away.

Within my eyes
the flickering afterimages of a nightmare rain
a woman wrings her hands
beneath the weight of agonies remembered
I wade through summer ghosts  
betrayed by vision
hers and my own
becoming dragonfish to survive  
the horrors we are living
with tortured lungs
adapting to breathe blood.

A woman measures her life's damage
my eyes are caves, chunks of etched rock
tied to the ghost of a black boy  
whistling
crying and frightened
her tow-headed children cluster  
like little mirrors of despair  
their father's hands upon them  
and soundlessly
a woman begins to weep.

poet Anonymous

From the Mountains…

I carry my bow
in the arch of my back
  
the flesh and bones    
of humankind’s half  
   
launching arrows    
through my powerful voice    
   
calling to arms  
all soldiers to fight    
   
for just cause  
   
righting the wrongs    
we’ve endured too long    
   
Centuries of those    
with thumbs pressing down    
ensuring that woman    
is footstool of man  
   
What is the human    
who heeds not the call  
The anguish of ages  
is destined to fall  
   
Seeing equal potential    
in genders  
   
All  
   
From the valleys to mountains    
a new age dawns    
an awakened wisdom  
drawing all hearts    
   
the original blueprint    
shall be reread    
   
and reflect    
   
All humans are equal    
   
Let the scales reset
poet Anonymous

Memories of Lesbos II

 " Womanhood has such great magic within it      
think, songs of Hestia from her homely dell,      
that the feminine in some men is spirited        
to strike off the shackles of man-made hell.        
        
It can compel a girl to leave her father's hearth        
or a woman to vacate her husband's rude bed,        
and have no remorse as they are moved to part        
from the false authority of manly heads.        
         
So why are these fingers tight tied together        
mine taut within yours and yours, mute, within mine,        
are we feared where these little things might wander        
and scared to acknowledge what they well may find?        
         
Don't think, Hoplite, those citizen warriors        
grooming each, naked, prepared to die in fight,        
but, rather, think, Aphrodite's, sacred whores        
surrendered to little death on, holy nights."
poet Anonymous

A woman is the full circle

She sits next to me    
on a fold-up chair
arms coiled around her
mirroring the snake    
she has spent her life    
running from    
   
she bends into it  
pleating herself    
into something    
resembling  
letting go  
   
of what entirely,  
she does not know    
   
but I see myself in her  
as I find myself ripping  
apart at the seams  
   
here on temporary chairs  
in front of eternal wisdom,  
all of them broken  
all of them showing up  
as imperfect versions  
of themselves  
   
and I love them;  
perhaps in a way    
I’ve never loved  
anyone
   
because sisterhood,  
real sisterhood  
is something I never    
thought possible  
in a world so blinded  
by fakery.  
   
She simply weeps, soft tears  
rolling down her cheeks  
and it is beautifully pure  
as she clings to my hand  
and I remember how empty  
I felt before they came  
   
these women    
seeking to lift  
   
never destroy.
poet Anonymous

Self run (Riot)

I walk
6 feet tall
All of me

(I have been told I lead with my vagina, it is unintentionally thrust forward if I do. My head is usually in the clouds. I’m assuming my pussy is too. Once I think about it . .. I’m away to something else. Figuratively and literally. I guess If my vagina leads, I soon follow.)

All of me
5 foot 9
And 6 feet tall

My perfume
Hubris
But at most I’m self aware
At least
I’m oblivious

It wafts around
At 6 feet

High

(I have been told I look like Debbie Harry, I prefer Chrissy Hynde, but Debbie Harry will do. Especially on those one shoe Sunday morning afters. Even then I douse myself  O! DAY! Perfumed. Pride and all of its bilingual manifestations)

At
6 feet tall
I’ll take you to Church
O! Faced

(A man once once winked at me and said; Jennifer I’m going to take you to church. He meant a good fuck. Or intended a phenomenal one.. regardless, I took him. I usually do. Jennifer the pew.)

Straight up
No inclination
6 feet tall

Baller

poet Anonymous

Morrissey Hates Tea Cozies

He said so, with
a screwed up, mortified face  
when the female interviewer tried to gift him one.
 
Said it looked like a hat,  
one of those skateboard kids, wears, and
I decided I needed to take a few cuttings
from the garden where he grows his fucks.
 
So I did.  
 
But I bought a filter for them
because I care about Jesus  
enough to not spit in his eye, like
Morrissey would , and
I don't believe in bribing God
to get into Heaven, like  
the Oprah's of the world, do.
 
I planted Morrissey's clippings  
in my own garden, and  
one thing about growing fucks, is
they don't come with an instruction manual.
 
Learned that the hard way, but  
the Proverbs 31 Woman, made
it look so easy....
 
(I wonder how many cats, SHE had??)
 
Now that the fucks are fully grown,
I have plenty of my own to give  
as clippings.
 
(Payin' it forward, you know?)
 
And maybe that's all anyone needs--
a few, select , fucks  
and the know-how to give them.
poet Anonymous

the ugliest person on earth

Why have I been cursed
as the most beautiful person on earth
where my looks have become a purse  
from my shapely derriere  
enticing men to play  
thinking of all you can eat buffets  
to my translucent skin  
invoking the spirits within  
why do you men get so maudlin  
where my looks have become their sin  
for when I use your lust  
doing what I must  
you throw me to the dust  
calling harlot and whore  
when I don't let you score  
thinking these insults cut to the core  
well here's a newsflash gentlemen  
and something you need to ken  
I live within my inner garden  
working on my soul  
holding true and staying whole  
while you're paying the toll
poet Anonymous

Women and Freedom

I seek not to disparage  
Nor strive to be like you  
Difference, not inequality  
I am woman, authentic, true  
 
Not at liberty to provide  
Emancipation, up to me  
Asking of you the privilege  
Implies I am unfree  
 
Approval is unnecessary  
Not a question of causality  
Needing not your permission  
To establish equality  
 
Uninspired to be you  
My own self on a stage  
For he who wishes to dominate  
I shall refuse to engage  
 
Inspired by Simone De Beauvoir – The Second Sex
poet Anonymous

Completely free

I was always demure
and seemingly so mature
oh what a shock
please stuff my mouth with a sock
my filthy mind has been unlocked
with morals forever gridlocked
I'm in need of life support
thinking I'm some hot escort
I blame it all on poetry
for destruction of my pedigree
all I do is want to flee
this wanton harlot that is me
but the rhymes keep calling me back
writing words imbued with black
or just wisecracks
about my rack
yet
now I am completely free
and it's OK if you disagree
I'm not my brother's keeper don't you see
we don't even need a referee
the age old role models have all died
and my spirit is my only guide
poet Anonymous

To my ancestors

I am her;
wild-woman
 
feral-tongued,
lace skirted
 
damp feet pressed
into thuds of Earth,
those heartbeats  
tethering us together
in ancestral drum
 
I am her;
sorceress  
 
pressing death to my ear,
hearing its call in the shells  
of English shores
 
gathering mugwort  
by the roadside in jars
of hedgerow medicine
passed down generations  
to the sweet smell  
of sage scented fire
 
and I am
certainly her;
witch
 
unafraid of those
who stoke the flames
 
for I dance with the dust
of moth wings littering
their ashen pasts;
the patriarchal reason  
they taught others to fear  
a cunning woman’s heart
 
and I am mother,
grand-mother,
the hunted
& destroyed
 
I am the loved
I am the silenced;
all whose stories  
are null and void
 
for I am nothing
and everything too—
I am Goddess
of hearth and land
 
and I am not  
afraid of you
 
 
may the ground shake
where I stand.
poet Anonymous

She Is...

 
She said she didn’t dwell too much on the past things
“Resolve the issue and move on
Time is of the essence and if you don’t work the plan
You can easily be left behind”

They’d call her a bitch, a ball buster, all those things
Behind her back
But the truth was whenever she’d flex her knowledge
To get the work done, they just didn’t like it

She has worked longer hours than anyone else
Then go home and be a mother
A teacher
A counselor
A planner
Manager
CEO
CFO
Maintenance and Operations
Therapist
And yet somehow still find to some time to herself
To relax and recharge
Before another day would begin
To get that bread
And deal with the bullshit male counterparts spewed

She was mentally tough
Spiritually firm
Emotionally strong
And still a fragile soul
Compassionate
Understanding
Sympathetic

She’s been the dream girl
Trying to be better
She’s been a leader
The example to many young women
She’s been the pioneer
The innovator with a greater purpose
She’s been down on her luck
And ridden the wave of success
She’s been beaten and broken
And put back together
Fallen and risen with too many times to count
She has the heart of warrior
And fought bigger battles than any man has ever known
She has cried tears that overflowed rivers
And roared louder than ominous thunder
She has given life
And at times sacrificing her own

She is a…
Mother
Sister
Daughter
Friend
Spouse
Neighbor
Stranger
Passerby
She is the sum of love in family
The history of those who suffered in the past
At times she may have been afraid
But always willing to face her fear
Striving be better than the rest
She is woman
She is…
           You.
poet Anonymous

A Woman In Parts

All the parts of me are obvious, see:
I consist of a heart in a tight corseted sternum
pressed upward in constant female expansion;
the weighty dreams I hold to
lean into this caving posture.

Womanhood should be
an easy aspiration yet
it holds uncertain things as stones
stuck into mud hold such after it rains
(I know what is there already, that
           is the riddle) --

Its metallic taste rises in my mouth
to meet my every desire:
Crumb by crumb,
I see it fall from the air;
the empty air where love
hangs suspended, undefinable
as a gaping mouth.

It is an odyssey to reach such heights
but it feels like a descent,
its true nature a secret cave dweller
brooding among cobwebs
and ancient detritus.
But, it never ages,
         we know this,
and it lives here like a faint, tiny drum
being struck in persistent repetition --

O, how I want more than this
yet it snaps me back every time
to view these passive observations:
       I can't be cold even with
fully erect vertebrae stacked and straight
as able, unfettered hands sort keeps
from throwaways,
frugal and practical.

Letting go is a journey taken
in baby steps
(the calculations never quite fit
the final outcome).

The female persuasion is
transitory; a wavering blanket
in the wind resisting its moorings,
stuck to a thin, drifting fraying rope --
         see how she floats unsteadily
but sturdily unfolded and aloft;
this is fragility --

Yet it won't give in or can't;
it rides a swell of forced growth
like a flower blooming in the sun
is forced to.

       .....

#MargaretAtwood
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