poetry critical

online poetry workshop

Katrina's Daughters

slam poem

Rape runs through women in my family
like dirty ocean water spills over the walls
of a levy to erode city streets.
Girls like us have weak arms and bad luck.
So I learned about the intricacies
of the birds and the bees
from the stories my midwife mother
used to bring home
of fourteen year old babies
having babies of their own: so I have always known
about the world that exists beneath the word no.
And it makes me wonder,
how do those other mothers explain sex
to their daughters?
What do they say about those hurricane-pulled
tidal waves turned in their children’s direction?
Stares that scream sex like bodies
pressed hard against the walls of a levy.
Touch carrying infection like pox
heavy blankets soaked to the skin of the ocean
floor, or fallen beneath the wooden wrecks,
that crashed and sunk into the walls meant to protect
us, from the rising tide?
Do they just ignore the discrepancies
still left in our pledge of equality?
And never say, one day you may have to fight
for freedom outside your apartment;
that it’s not always about love,
but sometimes just a fuck.
That once his touch swells across flesh
(hands sticky with sweat and lust)
that pungent sea-salt smell of fear
will rush to cover and choke
every other lover’s breath
heavy in your throat, in your ear
till you can do nothing but hear
his lungs stretch hot and heavy like artillery fire
aimed at submarines stationed too close to the harbor
lines, or those bombs bundled tight
beneath blank eyes
getting off on your screams of no, don’t
knowing it only takes one shot aimed just right to destroy
the whisper of night; one burst of adrenaline-
laced-thunder across a crescent moon sky
spread to shatter through stone that should have been told
about the kind of pain that slips through its cracks
like parted fingers.
My mother used to tell me she would rather die.
That she did not understand those who pleaded
for their lives beneath some fraternity brother’s insistent lullaby
because there is nothing  left
when you realize you are no longer in control
of your own life.
And I don't want my daughters to know that kind of strife--
the unclean feeling that splits a soul with rusted lightening
till blood no longer can tell which vein to follow
because every branch is burned black,
and the muscles have all turned leaden
and useless, tired of trying to carry body
through flooded streets with his weighted sighs pulling them
down down down delirious.
So I am going to tell my daughters what they need to know.
I will never stand back and let them grow old
with his breath in their throat; his sweat urgent with need
drying to sand beneath their feet; his fingernails scarring
white crescent moons into the soft skin on their wrists--
I will always protect them from an unwanted lover’s kiss
so they will never have to whisper under a sky
that spits dirty water,  and roars with thunder
like all of their mothers.

28 May 06

Rated 8.2 (8.2) by 12 users.
Active (12): 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (16): 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

(define the words in this poem)
(39 more poems by this author)

(11 users consider this poem a favorite)

Add A Comment:
Enter the following text to post as unknown: captcha


my god this is powerful and overpowering.
you pulled it right out of your guts and exposed it to the world
 — unknown

wow!  speechless.
 — jerotich

I love it. Usually I don't get to the end of long poems as they bore me. But, this made me want to read on. I like the imagery you've created, there's nothing cliche here. One suggestion... Line67 ''and veins no longer can tell which path to follow,''

I'd change it to something like... ''and blood no longer can tell which path/vein/channel to follow.''

This poem impressed me quite a lot =) thankyou.
 — unknown

absoloutely amazing, powerful and has the scorching ring of truth.
 — marieF

wild topic. but this is good.
 — listen

The first line is too chliche.   I couldn't read past it.
 — unknown

you're a dope previous unknown
 — unknown

This was powerful and disturbing. I could not have written this.
 — leukothea

I have to admit to not being completely sure about this one - for a start I think it's far too long, and could take a bit of editing. There are also several cliches in the images that could do so much more if they were sharpened up a bit - a slight over emphasis on 'dirt' for example that is rather obvious. I'm extremely sympathetic to the content and the voice is strong but the style is very prosaic - the whole thing would benefit from the inclusion of some poetic techniques - more focused and sharper images, the elimination of some of the definite and indefinite articles and repetition used to greater effect for starters - nontheless a brave work.
 — opal

powerful.  wish i could hear it aloud.
 — WordsAndMe

powerful .... I'm just blown away and I'll leave it at that
 — xtormentedx

Wow.  There's so much emotion in this. A determination that comes across.
Thank you for this.
 — unknown

congrats on making it to the recent best list.... well deserved :)
 — xtormentedx

wow. this is truly unbelievable.  the second stanza is amazing and reminds me of Zora Neale Hurston.  the line "Girls like us have weak arms and bad luck" is excellent. i feel however, that towards the end of the poem you lose focus and the poem becomes more of a rant.  up until line 58 you use wonderful imagery and metaphor, and i think you lose that towards the end.  this poem is exquisite, but i think with a little tightening it could be even better.
 — poppy_seed

Damn, this is awesome. I wish I could hear this performed, I bet you kick so much ass.  This is great.
 — MEB

I would love to hear this performed as well, and although it may seem long, I think the performance wouldn't seem this way.  The imagery of "...white crescent moons
into the soft skin on their wrists," is great.
 — Mai

Reads with such a Marjorie Barnes vibe to it - if you're into slam and feel like purchasing some CDs for inspiration, her's is particuarly brilliant.  I'm big into slam as well, so I can appreciate how absolutely astounding this would be on the slam stage.  A flooring peice - beautiful in an unexplainable manner.
 — WordsAndMe

This one really blew me away. I loved the imagery of many of your lines, but more than that, I love the feeling that this captured. The intensity of emotion was there from beginning to end.
 — EchoesRemain

from the stories my midwife mother  8
used to bring home  9
of fourteen year old babies  10
having babies of their own:  11
so I have always known  12
about the world that exists  13
beneath the word no

 — unknown

TragicBubble, you are so mysterious!  Comment, tell us something of your genius!  We love you!
 — WordsAndMe

Wow.  I am so stunned and impressed I can think of no other words than the cliched wow.  I also have impatience with long poems, but not this one.  The best compliment I could give is that it sounds like something Ani DiFranco might have written.  
 — Machsee

please someone explain to me what slam poetry is! i've heard of it, but i do not actually know what it is. ;__;
 — missmurder

missmurder, check the forums, babe, people are talking about it on there.
 — unknown

My mother couldn't protect me.  She didn't believe me.  Then it happened to my sister.  Thankfully, we didn't turn to drugs or alchohol.  We turned to God instead.  This poem kicks serious ass.  Stay the great Mom that you aspire to be for your girls.  Here's another "10."  
 — starr

wow that was so good it really shows the heart ache that would follow rape that was amazing
 — Dead_Freak

i love it.
reminds me of Katrina Warriors.
 — Spunkee

It's powerful though the first sentence is...cliche as has been said before and it's perhaps a little too feminist rather than just examining the topic. However, well written and I liked it.
 — unknown

By the end of this slam, the audience would be asleep, whining, or getting up to leave.
 — unknown

This is a slam that certainly wouldn't leave people with a nice view of you. This isn't a topic we like to slam. Not usually. If it were more about power and play and less about the sensitivity of a mother, it'd make something more to share.

However, as a written work, it's really well done. I dislike hearing about levy walls twice in the first half, it still gives you a good metaphorical view of a woman's body. Like any of that fucking matters.. haha.

This is awesome. Keep it (the honesty) up!
 — thirdeyris

love it, incredibly powerful. 10
 — unknown

wow. i know how its feels well kinda. i was sexualy abused
 — soccerangel

my god. what a poem. i mean, THIS. THIS is a poem. this poem here has meaning.
i think it means Pain.
 — unknown

I did not like this imitation slam poem one little bit.
To me it is a poorly constructed poetic exercise of little merit.

The analogies and implied metaphors used throughout the poem are in the most part drivel of a nonsensical nature.

I basically lost interest in the poem after the first stanza.

Rape runs through women in my family
like dirty ocean water spills
over the walls of a broken levy
to erode city streets.

The first line is apparent nonsense, unless it is implied that the act of rape itself is merely one of spending wastefully: e.g. to squander.  Alternatively, those tidal waters that in certain circumstances run through unopposed by any form of fabricated structure or impediments

Is rape really a spillage?
The word spills as either a noun or a verb appears to be misplaced, either would indicate that the water was wasted, when in fact it was merely directed to a different container.

Though the implication that the oceans are dirty is in itself an erroneous one, it is the sludge-contaminated waters contained within the levies, which are dirty.
The tidal waters of the ocean merely back up those contained waters to a greater height than the levies were designed to contain.
The last line of the stanza conveys nothing. As to what city streets does it refer too?

Little thought appears to have been given to the accuracy of the poem, and my interest for the contents died after the first stanza.

 — unknown

wow very emotional and overpowering...very untame, but i love it, although at times it can be a bit too graphic (eg: 1 and 5)
 — deadstar21

Awesome poem. I like the metaphors and the dignity in your tone. I understood all of your metaphors perfectly, and I am impressed. I can imagine hearing this at a slam and loving it.
 — Maela