I am not the first to fight this legacy war,
passed down from my mother.
I have been drafted unwillingly, underage.
My dad’s friends used to tell him, “Oh, Rich, you’ll have
to beat the boys off her.” ( They mean, “Oh, but she’ll
be a warrior.” ) I was four years old when older men
decided I was too pretty to be a person, and made me
into a t h i n g instead.
I was thirteen when I saw my first taste of battle.
My first attack was a shout from a passing car,
a “damn, baby,” and my shield was made of
a glare, a middle finger, and a hiss of “fuck you,”
that turned to a H O W L in time with war drums.
When I was fourteen I lost my first soldier, when
Caitlin called me crying, she told me her body ached
her lips were bruised the salt rain had stripped her bare
and she was beautiful, that’s what they told her,
you should have seen her that night, all torn up
with his k i s s in her mouth.
Then they started telling us about innocence,
about purity and about how ruined she was, how
we all were, we all are; they would press knives
through our lace, skin & MUSCLE, and call us filthy
for all the b l o o d .
It lights up with a s p a r k and burns us at the stake,
Disney’s photoshopped unscarred princesses gaslight
us all—until we believe in pretty, c l e a n , pristine,
until the broken glass on our lips glitters like sugar,
so that we might sweeten our smiles, soften our
shouts and submit to our slaughter.
Starved, choked, beaten broken and bent out of shape,
and would you call a veteran “baby”?
Would you call a survivor “nice tits” or “great ass”
or “hey mama”?
We are not ‘cute’, not even in pink, silk, and eyeliner
we are c a s u a l t i e s taking up unapologetic space;
scars, diamonds, body hair, lipstick, tampons.
My war is a girl’s war, my weapons are words, I am H U M A N,
and I will not be the last.