Cultural Graffiti

****This is an old, old poem I am revising, as I believe it still has relevance today.  This does have strong language in it (I use a word in here I have never said–ever, and I don’t read this one in public for the same reason), so if you are squeamish about really nasty words, pass this one over.


I am painting over
words on a brick wall.
Old hate sprayed over cortical ridges
leaches through the best whitewashing;

You can hear the old words
in the pause before the new names
are used:

He says
African American/means (you fill in the blank)
says challenged/means cripple
mouths woman
who is girl, chick, broad,
cunt on the half-shell
in the subtext.

Naming is dangerous:
men whose signs say
wait outside the Y
where Betty Friedan speaks,
throw dyke, witch, murderer stones
at my friend & I
who dare move through them

Should I have said something,
should I have shouted back more hate,
or should I have kissed her?

No.  I can only
paint over and over
this ugliness.

But I am one woman,
and my arms
grow heavy.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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2 Responses to Cultural Graffiti

  1. Susan,
    This is hard poem and confronts us with one of the ugly realities of our world. It takes us to the world of bias, of racism, of sexism, to the dark shadowy limits of otherwise decent society, where pretense is peeled away and where prejudices lurk and prance and pounce on victim and predator, where fear and ignorance are disguised in overused words, where it is macho to talk and paint rough and obscene, and where some words are hurled on unwilling walls and on the airwaves to shock but are actually concealing the uncertainties and inadequacies of those who want to look and sound tough!

  2. Noel–you understand this so perfectly. It is an angry poem, written in anger, but it does have something to say, I think, even now.

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