The Terror of Being Female

i can’t believe our world this week–
 surrounded by the same chauvinistic bullshit
 my liberal baby-boomer parents raised me up against.
 and it’s 2016 and i have three daughters and a man, a husband,
 a born-and-bred Southern Baptist-raised Tennesseean, whose thoughts couldn’t enter the realm of filth so flippantly tossed
 into the national spectrum
 and we have a First Lady
 who should be our Queen
 whose words get twisted on my newsfeed within twenty-four hours
 by. A. White. Man.
 and i want to grab the world by its ears and shake some sense into it and put him in a swimming pool at age thirteen and have a hand slide up into his swimsuit.
 and put him on a bicycle at age fourteen and on the middle of a spring day have a creeper follow him home and chase him into an alley and expose himself to him.
 and i want to put him in the college library at age sixteen and have a stalker creep up behind him trying to reach up his shorts when he’s just searching for a poem by William Blake.
 And I want him to go fuck himself and his white male privilege that I have never seen in my home–the home of my birth or my marriage–even in all its whiteness
 And I want him to feel that terror of being female. Because every woman I know has had icy blood running through her veins in those moments of harassment and assault that have plagued us for all of time.
 But he won’t. Trump won’t apologize and he would argue till the day runs dark, and all i can do is pray to a god i don’t believe in that my three daughters don’t face the same fate. That they will find a home as safe as mine with a man as good as my father or husband and a world better than the one we have set before them now.
 Because it’s all i can do. Because i moved away in the pool and told my father about the flasher and left that library.
 Because i’m writing this now and somewhere in the world eyes are reading it and taking one moment to hear that terror slip out of my veins and transform into the truth that makes me Silent. No. More.

Call to Prayer

it isn’t church,
 but a Sunday morning sunshine ride–
 a line of bikes glistening in waning summer heat,
 with shout-outs as loud as a preacher who
 calls his parishioners to God:
 Bike up!
 Bike back!
 Gravel on the path!
 Car up!

 the words trickle down the line,
 heated breaths repeating them
 so loud that even prairie dogs
 stand at attention to hear.
 and we wrap ourselves
 in blue-sky calorie burning
 led by a fast-paced 78-year-old man,
 just as forgiving for our
 missed turns and flat tires
 as the best of His missionaries.

Day Seventeen, Road Trip 2016

finally the bikes
 double trouble, burning sun
 made for a slow ride

but cousin time rocks
 framed by wispy sand dune sky
 and genuine grins

crawfish, anyone?
 one last island shell cracking
 to salt our way home

and we saw gators!
 controlled, farmed, easy to feed
 better there than here

Day Fifteen, Road Trip 2016

everyone wins today
 with sleeping in and reading books
 and me fitting in a bike ride
 on the way to the movies
 (coastal views, zero elevation,
 heat seeping through my new
 jersey in a rushed attempt to
 meet the time schedule)
 and yet it hovers.
 my vacation.
 my vacation with friendly family,
 getting-along-quite-well girls,
 ocean views and coral reefs
 and the best lake swimming there is
 and …
 no happy hour.
 pedaling across those bridges,
 sweating steps in Savannah,
 making it through another day,
 a blessed, lucky day on this earth…
 and no drink to top it off,
 to melt the anxiety that comes
 with upcoming controversial family,
 the stress that will be DC in July,
 seeing my father-in-law slowly lose his mind;
 no drink to bring brighter to life
 the constancy of waves,
 to further open my mouth for all
 the thoughts i’m dying to share,
 (to pour onto the page);
 no drink to further relax my toes
 into this cushion of sand,
 my sore muscles into the clutch of alcohol,
 my mind from the weight of the world.
 and i say it again and again:
 There’s always a reason…
 and even on the perfect day,
 the life’s a beach dream vacation day,
 it. is. still. hard.
 it is why i pedal.
 why i write.
 why i drive 6000 miles.
 why i watch waves.
 because the need to escape is real.
 in all of us, no matter how picture-perfect our lives appear,
 it is as real as this view, this beach, these toes.
 but i made it.
 i made it through another day.
 and this poem is my happy hour.

Day Thirteen, Road Trip 2016 (Traveling Truths)

forts can be pretty
 and with alligator moats
 quite exciting, too

 hobbit holes exist
 if you travel far enough
 to open your eyes

 cousin love binds us
 just as beaches and waves do
 under our shared sky

 biking brings beauty
 along every road we ride
 from mountains to coast

Pedal to Petal

baby blooms her legs
 on a twenty-mile trek
 through city of dreams