Words give shape to our reality and help to explain things. In the hands and mind and mouth of the poet, words can reshape reality into something new and vital, and recast a vision for a better day.
Today I continue a look at poetry as an avenue to express, expose and reshape the toxic aspects of our culture that have created sexual predators and countless victims of sexual assault and harassment. I asked my long-distance poet friend Meggie Royer for suggestions. The first she supplied was by an American poet named Dasan Ahanu. There is no way I can give a better introduction to him than the information found on his website:
Christopher Massenburg, better known as Dasan Ahanu, is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, educator, songwriter, writer, emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Currently Dasan is a visiting professor at UNC Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC teaching courses on Hip Hop and Black culture.
A few years ago, Dasan Ahanu wrote a poem called “Can I” while he was conducting sexual-assault awareness and education training with men in Durham. Yesterday I posted a poem from the vantage point of the woman who had been assaulted. Today the poet speaks in the voice of a man directly addressing a woman who has been assaulted, who feels shamed and degraded, and uses his words to reshape her reality and recast a vision for the future…
I want to dry your tears and hold you until comfort sets into your skin like Icy Hot and everyone can smell your new day coming. Because your body needs it, your soul needs it, your spirit needs it and he tried way too hard to take it.
Too many times he blamed you, yelled at you, insulted you. Too many long nights sleeping away the pain and you never expected it to be like this. When you signed your name on the dotted line and contracted a disease you never expected: A disease called HIM.
A power hungry man who never gave a clue, they usually never do. Two sides of doom, one lulls you in so compassionate and caring. The other captures you so intense, it’s so angry and it should never be like this.
It pains me to know that one-in-four women live like this, that fatality comes from the hand of a partner more than the hand of a stranger. And you are caught in his web. I wish I could rub my fingers down your cheek and sing you songs of a new day. Like Ask Me by Amy Grant, Better Days by Guy Clark, How Come, How Long by Babyface.
You are Gloria Gaynor and you will survive. And if necessary we can be like Dixie Chicks and tamper with his black-eyed peas and run off together, leaving behind a missing person that no one misses at all.
You are strength. You don’t deserve it. Made it through the constant resistance to not losing to a swinging fist. And it should never be like this.
Your skin is beautiful. Is a leopard horrific because it has spots? I make you laugh because I say your complexion has character. But there is no quick healing factor. And I know that you wish for wolverine’s claws so you can tear through his body of evidence that says that he should get it now.
His case stands on bond, but even in marriage no means no. Made it isolation and verbal attack, pinch pennies that he overlooked in his forced incarceration. Times must change and I want to help you plan.