Poem about My Rights – by June Jordan

11 02 2007

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear

my head about this poem about why I can’t

go out without changing my clothes my shoes

my body posture my gender identity my age

my status as a woman alone in the evening/

alone on the streets/alone not being the point/

the point being that I can’t do what I want

to do with my own body because I am the wrong

sex the wrong age the wrong skin and

suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/

or far into the woods and I wanted to go

there by myself thinking about God/or thinking

about children or thinking about the world/all of it

disclosed by the stars and the silence:

I could not go and I could not think and I could not

stay there

alone

as I need to be

alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own

body and

who in the hell set things up

like this

and in France they say if the guy penetrates

but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me

and if after stabbing him if after screams if

after begging the bastard and if even after smashing

a hammer to his head if even after that if he

and his buddies fuck me after that

then I consented and there was

no rape because finally you understand finally

they fucked me over because I was wrong I was

wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong

to be who I am

which is exactly like South Africa

penetrating into Namibia penetrating into

Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if

Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the

proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland

and if

after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe

and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to

self-immolation of the villages and if after that

we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they

claim my consent:

Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of

the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what

in the hell is everybody being reasonable about

and according to the Times this week

back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem

and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they

killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba

and before that it was my father on the campus

of my Ivy League school and my father afraid

to walk into the cafeteria because he said he

was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong

gender identity and he was paying my tuition and

before that

it was my father saying I was wrong saying that

I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a

boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and

that I should have had straighter hair and that

I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should

just be one/a boy and before that

it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for

my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me

to let the books loose to let them loose in other

words

I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.

and the problems of South Africa and the problems

of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white

America in general and the problems of the teachers

and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social

workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very

familiar with the problems because the problems

turn out to be

me

I am the history of rape

I am the history of the rejection of who I am

I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of

myself

I am the history of battery assault and limitless

armies against whatever I want to do with my mind

and my body and my soul and

whether it’s about walking out at night

or whether it’s about the love that I feel or

whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or

the sanctity of my national boundaries

or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity

of each and every desire

that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic

and indisputably single and singular heart

I have been raped

be-

cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age

the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the

wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic

the wrong sartorial I

I have been the meaning of rape

I have been the problem everyone seeks to

eliminate by forced

penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/

but let this be unmistakable this poem

is not consent I do not consent

to my mother to my father to the teachers to

the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy

to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon

idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in

cars

I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name

My name is my own my own my own

and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this

but I can tell you that from now on my resistance

my simple and daily and nightly self-determination

may very well cost you your life


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2 responses

15 02 2007
alexis

lovelovelovelovelovelove! thank you for represencing this poem. i needed to remember just now that wrong is NOT my name.
love,
lex

2 03 2007
Lynn

I absolutely love this poem!!! I think June Jordan was an amazing poet and this poem express such desire to embrace ones self!!!! I absolutely adore this poem and J.Jordan’s other works!!!! This work is passionately amazing and powerful!!!

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