Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Sestina for the Ones Who Said (Poem)

This is a sestina based on the found poem idea, but with a twist to make it much harder for myself because - why not!

What I did was go to my six most visited websites (excluding social media and portals for services) and randomly select a line from what was on their front page, to form the first stanza. In order, these are:

The Guardian Australia
Ask A Manager
Captain Awkward
Gimlet Media
Girls Will Be Girls (Literary Journal)
Overland (Literary Journal)

(Yes, I am that boring OK).

So here we go ... I'm calling it A Sestina for the Ones Who Said. It's turned into a thing about the Thing, which I guess is not surprising, given the mood at the moment.

We are not very caring.
How clear are you being when you say no?
Everything is twice as hard and takes twice as long:
We go back to the time our divisions turned into war,
Not for male consumption -
I am still learning how to protect my own consent.

A twisted tangled mess where there should be consent
But to understand the depths of it requires caring:
To truly see a person, not a body for consumption.
To hear the ways in which the multitudinous No
is given: in shout or whisper; semaphore; portents of war.
The act measured in minutes, its shadow dragging long.

It feels this journey has been so long,
and so unfinished, while old men in power debate consent
and what it means. Pitching it like it is a culture war,
like the young, the vulnerable, the women are somehow wrong for caring:
like there is something mutable about the No
like resisting is revolution, an affront to consumption.

And everywhere, it's packaged for consumption:
Sex sells, and with it, the dark ideal of access; for so long
there has been permission to not hear the No.
Do we really own our own consent?
In the broken mirror, we see the shards of caring -
And power and the powerless in uneven war.

Some write polemics about a gender war,
Which is just deflection, packaged neat for angry male consumption.
The contempt that reeks for all that reflects caring:
The paradigm has held up for so long,
Regardless of the threadbare-thin consent,
We did not agree, but no-one heard the No.

The day is coming, when we'll shout the NO
and call out power and the running dogs of war
and start to learn the value of consent.
When the only thing we line up for consumption
is the food and drink we share, as days grow long
and the cruel will become weak, and all power vest in caring.

And although it hurts, we cannot turn from caring:
Power seems so firm, and yet its fall is long;
And hearts rebuild, and love usurps consumption.

- Kathy, 12/11/17

(This is NaBloPoMo post #12. 12 down, 18 to go!)

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