V is for Violence and Violation

By Noel Ihebuzor and Susan Daniels

You return always to your ritual
Of force, foaming like fits of fury
Heart of steel, to stages of stone, long assumed gone,
Dormant but dominant
Clenched fists of metal rusting
Behind its lustre of polished calm
Simmering tension running subterranean
Ever willing, trigger happy, happy pugilist,

It is a lottery won by 7 out of 10 women,
With prizes of broken bones, torn souls;
Whose throats swallow knocked-out teeth
And mouths fill with bitten tongues.  She says
She ran into a door, and a door
Fell on me once, but how many doors
Can one woman run into
Before she says she ran
Into a fist?  

You pound the rib
You gave into shapeless broken fragments
The call of the residual is strong
Damming and diverting rivers uphill
To flow in impossible unceasing eddies
And tiring sterile circles

He does not always hide
In bushes or haunt alleys
Like a cat hunting mice:
We know our attackers
Two-thirds of the time.
Numbers do not lie.
The strangers we were warned off
Are not as dangerous as friends
38% of the time, or men
We think we know, 73%
Of them our rapists without masks.

And behind the smile, the polish
The beast lurks, ready to
Pounce and pound flesh to prove the power
Of the mighty proud to a lamb

We ask for it, old women
Dressed in housecoats

And young ones in sweatpants
Who jog bike paths,
Or women who look
At their husbands
Without the right balance of fear.
We are always asking for it,
Simply by breathing.

And we breathe the fear of the brawn breed
Trapped in culture’s cages,
Bent, stooped, stopped and stumped by glass ceilings
And your febrile insecure masculinity
It is your fear that chokes you
As you choke me, break me and break us,
Your false potency creates tsunamis of true impotency
And you forget that the truly strong
Are not afraid of being weak
And that only the weak
Embrace violence to prove power.

***As always, a pleasure to collaborate with my friend Noel, especially for International Women’s Day.  His words pack quite the punch!  His words are in regular typeface.  Mine are italicized.

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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39 Responses to V is for Violence and Violation

  1. davidtrudel says:

    Another magical combination of talents.

  2. Penultimate verse ~ strong ~ powerful ~ god, you can write Susan.

  3. It can’t be said enough and you both say it with lyricism and insight. The numbers don’t lie, we keep pretending they do. At some point we have to decide that enough is enough, there are too many bolted doors and not enough open space. Thank you for this airing out of the darkest truths.

  4. Susan’s voice respires and inspires! What a joy it is to blend voices with a poet of such rare talent!

  5. Powerful topic and you did it justice. V is like the letter version of red.

  6. claudia says:

    And you forget that the truly strong
    Are not afraid of being weak
    And that only the weak
    Embrace violence to prove power….so true…what a powerful write susan

  7. The Enfant Terrible says:

    Fantastic! So raw, powerful and poignant… I love it! You both compliment each other so well. I’m glad you made such good use of the “7 out of 10” statistic. Wonderful!

    • Soraya, you know that really struck me when I read that–I had to use it. So glad N agreed to write with me. There seems to be a lot of interest for the project from the folks at dVerse, too. Yay, Brian and Claudia.

  8. Wonderfully written,collaborative poem, Susan and Noel. It is so hard to understand how women remain in such situations. What a fitting poem for International Womens’ Day.

    • Victoria, it is very hard for me to understand staying in a situation like that here, in the US or Europe–however, worldwide, I do not think most women in the developing world have much choice but to stay, unfortunately. Sad, sad situation.

  9. Wow! Fantastic poetry. I love how you both intertwined statics with stereotyped reasoning, that is the combination that really drives the point home
    I can’t say it enough, fantastic!

  10. Alice Keys says:

    Amazing collaboration. One mind and one heart.

  11. nelle says:

    😦 Powerful stuff.

    • Thanks, Nelle. Noel and I have a way of pushing each other when we write together. I like how we found the voice for this poem. It does need two throats.

  12. Thank you for this Susan and Noel. A much-needed voice. Being a father to a daughter, there is a piece here that I need to write as well. Just not sure if I’m ready yet.
    Thanks to you two for having he courage.

  13. Victor says:

    Susan,this duet at once provokes shame to masculinity,anger to feminity and loss to humanity.My favourite from Noel would be:”–breathe the fear of the brawn breed trapped in culture’s’cages–” and from you, it has to be:”We are always asking for it simply by breathing”- Wao how forceful can anyone get!.The cathartic experience for both of you must be spectacular.Powerful message to celebrate IWD.

    • Victor, thank you. Whenever I write with Noel, somehow the joined voices magnify the intensity of the product’s effect by 50 to 100 times–almost the way a microscope magnifies vision. I am blessed to have experienced that blend of voices.

  14. This was incredible. I love the collaboration; it was effortless and flowed perfectly.

  15. too true… i felt everything all over… my hammered heart!

  16. I have no more words, Susan; they have said all. But Masterful collaboration caps it all. 🙂

  17. Ike Emecheta says:

    Noel always cuts into the soul of the matter with his words. It is refreshing to read you even when the topic is as disgustingly violent. The coraboration, as intended in life, makes the picture whole.

  18. Lindy Lee says:

    An excellent collaborative & subject of much needed discussion…

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