I Remember Wanda

 

Trigger warning: language, racial slur


I Remember Wanda
by Carl Josehart

I remember Wanda
she’s the one who thought she was a turtle
and demanded we call her,
“Turtle”

I met Wanda when I worked at a school for
cast off children with
garbage dump lives
refuse of society

clutching her purse,
one day,
she screamed at me across
miles of misunderstanding
and missed opportunities

“Suck my cock!”
and then called me a,
“white chocolate nigger”

we used to collect
words
hurtled at us like
harpoons
the only way the
children had to
teach us about their
pain

we’d save them and
play with them
pretending we didn’t
feel the sting of these
well targeted missiles

I guess if I lived in her world
I’d be a turtle too
a hard strong shell to
protect me when
words fall like rain
and soak the soul
in silent suffering and pain

Wanda…I remember


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The Tattooed Tigress

The Tattooed Tigress
by Carl Josehart

The tattooed tigress
slowly stalks her prey
inviting mouth studded with razor sharp teeth

Swishing silky tail
playful as a cub
powerful as a lioness
tempting as ripe fruit swollen on the vine

The tattooed tigress
now wounded in battle
cries out in pain
threatens all who come near
even those with salves and dressings for her wounds

Too frightened to let anyone approach
she is danger of dying from her wounds
injuries that need not be mortal
threaten to sap her life
lest she can suffer to be cured

Going to the Gynecologist With My Mother

Going to the Gynecologist With My Mother (and Oedipus)
by Carl Josehart

Going to the gynecologist with my mother
and Oedipus
after vanquishing my father
over a decade ago
with a random thought
(I wished him dead once)
I never entered her bed
And once being pushed out
from a womb
never sought to re-enter
but now
the gynecologist
with diagrams and sketches
invites Oedipus and me
in for a tour

Earlier
in the waiting room
my mother answers pages of questions
about her medical history
Oedipus shifts uneasily in his seat
when she gets to the questions about her
sexual history
she giggles
her cheeks gently blush red
and she whispers
“fargessen”
in our mother tongue
when the form asks about
pain with intercourse

later
in another room
they take out her uterus
place of our birth
homeland of our clan
doctors dance in circles around her
while products of her now diseased womb
wait patiently nearby

God
“source of all life”
“creator of all flesh”
a womb
from which was born a
chosen people
protect her now

Going to the gynecologist with my mother
and Oedipus
the rhythm of life
beats loudly
like the pounding of my heart
the doctor’s words
painful intercourse
about prognosis
treatment
and cure

afterwards
watching blue lips
struggling to form words
labored breathing
clutching at the air
he whispers
mocking her words,
“fargessen?”
“ich vet keynmol fargessen!”
(I’ll never forget)

Reaction to the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando

This letter was originally published on June 18, 20016 but seems just as relevant today as it was then.

An Open Letter to My Friends and Family

June 18, 2016

Since that horrible morning on June 12th when we all woke up to a changed world I have been hearing from friends and family wanting to know if I am OK. Well the answer is “yes” and “no”.

“Yes” – I am fortunate that I have the social, economic and emotional resources that I will find a way to manage though my feelings of grief, anger and helplessness. I was not in physical proximity to Orlando so I was never in any immediate physical jeopardy. I am also grateful that no one I personally knew was killed or injured. So yes, in some ways I am OK.

“NO” – I am not OK and don’t know when and if I ever will be again. After struggling to be accepted by society, my religious faith, facing employment discrimination, fighting for the right to marry my husband legally and have it be recognized across the country I love and call home – after my community struggled to learn to live with HIV and AIDS and the devastation it caused while saying goodbye to so many loved ones – after all that, I thought we had turned a corner – and now this. So no, in a very fundamental way, I am not OK and am not sure I will ever be again.

So if you love me and care about me here is what I need you to do:

  • Use your voice – speak up against hate speech whenever and wherever it happens – no matter who it is directed to
  • Use your influence – at work, at your church, synagogue, mosque or in social clubs you belong to make sure that you use your influence to advocate for change
  • Use your mind – be open to new ideas and experience, reach out to someone who is different from you and learn what it is like to experience the world through their eyes
  • Use your resources – to support organizations that foster an open, safe and caring community.
  • Use your vote – to support candidates that stand up for inclusion, diversity, equal rights and shun hate speech.
  • Use your hands – to reach out and lift up those in need of assistance and comfort those in need of healing
  • Use your network – to share this message with anyone that will listen and perhaps some that won’t in the hope that you will help plant the seeds of change that may someday blossom into greater understanding and acceptance.Thank you for your thoughts and prayers but what I need even more than that is your actions.

With great affection,

Carl


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