First: Rene Simon – Poem


We cannot draw you
an atlas
mapping how the
standing on, ignoring of,
the holding down
of one of us
hurts all of us
how none of us is an island
of identity or experience


Follow the breadcrumbs
through the bureaucratic briar patch
the Fox News bulletins
presidential tweets
the political flash and haze
behind the cameras
to where our bodies lie bleeding

“I don’t understand that word,” you say,
“it’s all so theoretical, philosophical”
As if, not able to hold our pain in
your soft-handed grasp,
an attempt at grasping
no longer matters

We cannot plot you a course
through the labyrinth of middle-school
textbooks and History Channel documentaries
to shepherd your understanding
explain to you how
history is repeating itself
in the microcosm of this
moment between you and me


Listen for the echoes
the bellows across the ages
as you debate my definitions
as my great-great-grandfather
who slaved in the cotton fields weeps
and my great-great-grandmother
who paced the reservation keens
and my cousins and aunts and uncles and all my relations
wail their fury and fright
as they are
watching history repeat itself
(anti-KKK protestors mowed down by sedans)
and repeat itself
(male politicians reversing Roe. V. Wade)
and repeat itself
(the rape and disappearance of Latinx and indigenous women goes unremarked)
and repeat itself
(transgender servicepersons banned from the military)
and repeat itself
(poor families in Flint still have no palatable water)


This, then is my choice.
I show up
I listen to the stories
I tell my own
I do it again the next day
Perpetually, persistently

(steady on)

claiming my titles
placing the crown of thorns you’d have me wear
atop my
head like a priceless tiara:
invisibly disabled
mentally ill
single mother
recovering addict
on the government dole
I will not be ashamed
I will not be segmented
I will not be disappeared

But I cannot tell you how to get
there from here
I am bled dry from
body shaking and spent from
wresting a space at the table for
myself and mine, for
the rest of us

to draw you a fucking map.


Back to First: Table of Contents

Back to Roberto Carlos Garcia: Three Poems               Onward to Carla M. Cherry: Poem

RS_HeadshotRene Simon is a 48-year-old queer artist and writer of African-, Native-, and European-American descent. She has battled mental health, addiction, and trauma issues throughout her life, and now works as a Certified Peer Specialist, supporting others on the same journey. She is currently living in Madison, Wl with her partner, teenage daughter, and three unruly little dogs, and is in the process of returning for her master’s in art therapy.

I have been writing poetry since teenage angst first hit at age eleven, but sincerely hope it has improved with age. I love the expansive capacity of words, from the hunt for specificity of language, to the opportunity to evoke visceral responses in an audience. I aspire to transport the reader into a crystallized moment in time or state of emotion that can be felt beyond the words.