I always loved April in the Prison Library. It was National Poetry Month and we would host Poetry Slams in the library. I invited the inmates to read original poems or something from a favorite author. I felt it helped to prepare them for “real world experience” to be able to speak publicly. To practice presence, articulation and “owning the space” would assist with future job interviews.
One of my favorite authors is Sandra Cisneros. She is not only a favored children’s author, but a poet of renown. Today I am sharing one of her poems.
by Sandra Cisneros
They say I’m a beast.
And feast on it. When all along
I thought that’s what a woman was.
They say I’m a bitch.
Or witch. I’ve claimed
the same and never winced.
They say I’m a macha, hell on wheels,
viva-la-vulva, fire and brimstone,
but I like the compliment.
The mob arrives with stones and sticks
to maim and lame and do me in.
All the same, when I open my mouth,
they wobble like gin.
Diamonds and pearls
tumble from my tongue.
Or toads and serpents.
Depending on the mood I’m in.
I like the itch I provoke.
The rustle of rumor
I am the woman of myth and bullshit.
(True. I authored some of it.)
I built my house of ill repute.
Brick by brick. Labored,
loved and masoned it.
I live like so.
Heart as sail, ballast, rudder, bow.
Rowdy. Indulgent to excess.
My sin and success–
I think of me to gluttony.
By all accounts I am
a danger to society.
I’m Pancha Villa.
I break laws,
upset the natural order,
anguish the Pope and make fathers cry.
I am beyond the jaw of law.
I’m la desperada, most-wanted public enemy.
My happy picture grinning from the wall.
I strike terror among the men.
I can’t be bothered what they think.
Que se vayan a la ching chang chong!
For this, the cross, the Calvary.
In other words, I’m anarchy.
I’m an aim-well,
I’m Bitch. Beast. Macha.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
I break things.