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Pen Your Pride


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  • Dedicated to Those Still Caged


As dusk slithers closer

Snow crawls up windows

Kneeling in places where

No one will pass tonight

Visions spark so chimney’s leap

A motion longing to wrap itself

In a tattered lunge; opening, closing

Their low silhouettes breathe flames

In a corner women with injured voices

Examine each others cages

While old men smoke, sit on rungs

Preen back and forth and back again

Abandoned by mothers— fathers

You, wide-eyed and open-mouthed

They’ve become blinded to your frame

Back-lit in doorways, empty houses

Men follow you on the street

Like bad whiskey in the wind

Calling to you in their loud hatreds

Daughter of Jezebel, slut, bitch, whore

Smother you with their raw vulgarities

But you, with your tattered petals

Step away from their cruel histories

Your fragile beauty belongs elsewhere

Woman-child; oh captive songbird

They cast you aside in their muteness

Their teeth should have stilled you

Yet water shines through your wings

Any cat knows what to do in the aviary

Why not attempt the truly brazen

Lift the eyelid of each word from its pulse

Give them Keats lingering on a waist

Or Dickinson with moss on her lips

Clasp a rusty owl’s song to your breast

When the rains broken accent falls

Fling open the doors— set your cage ablaze

Selena Howard© February 5,2012

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