A man I know by Shivapriya Ganapathy

A man I know
(from film screenings and art fests
in the city)
came up to me and asked
What I think of the #Me too movement.
What can anyone think of it,
really? Later,
someone else asked about the
Aziz Ansari incident.
All I can tell you is I know
Aziz Ansaris in my life.
Meet, interact, fidget,
and forget
–if lucky.
What I cannot tell you however
Is the ball of nausea that rolls up
from deep under my belly
to my head making it dizzy
when asked.
I do not think anything.
I do not think there is anything
To think.
You can mull over
A phrase. Or
Perhaps even a poem.
This is neither.
This is only a collective memory
of the stabs
We have received in
One lifetime.
I do not think there is anything
To think.

I Saw Silence Bleed Red

I have not seen a bullet
I live in a place
Relatively safe
–It was an accident.
I know of bullets though.
The ones that paint
Bodies red
I know also the ones
You hold between your teeth and
Shoot every time
You hear a question
You don’t want to.
It kills
Just like the other.
In this very time and space
As the history carved on his rough hands
Crawled all the way up
To mouth the question
You took only a moment
To bullet.
This is no accident
That you kill-
His story
And all of ours too
Without painting your hands red
I live in a place
Relatively safe
Was the only accident ever.
You live on the side
Bullets never graze
Will be the only accident ever.

Call me Femi-Nazi

Unclothe me with your eyes,
Hungry hands and mind,
Or your words
that spell like fear
of your sex’s weakness.
I am not ashamed
I am but a woman.
Hear my story,
Turn a deaf ear, shy away
Walk past, plugging me out,
Cry or console my loss,
Chide me, ask me to shut up.

Ignore me.
I still shriek of injustice
I am but a woman.
Call me the goddess, your alter ego,
The prostitute or the slut,
the femi-nazi,
The woman you can only
dream of bedding, or
The whore you fucked
last night,
Or your mother
I am multiple orgasms
I am but a woman.
Shred my ego to pieces,
revel in chivalry
Or slap me down
grovelling in the gravel
Mould me to your choice
I will be the lady
and the bitch
I am everything.
I am but a woman
Ban my blood and
own my womb

Taboo my body
for three whole days
Seed it with lust the next
I choose to be childless, to bleed freely
I am but a woman.
Don’t love my love handles,
put me down with my weight
My full grown body
an eyesore.
Try me into body issues
I will not fit in
I am but a woman
Say I am too modern,
Outrageous, or too traditional
to suit your tastes

Judge me with the size of my bindhi
Or the way I drape my
Sari just below
my navel, or the swiftness
with which I cover my head
when seen,
Or my six inch heel.
I am the permanent outcast
I am but a woman.
Thrust upon me
masks of masculinity
your hard rock ego boosts with
each sloppy kiss-
That testosterone high
Fails to stir me enough
I prefer women
I am but a woman.

Bio: Shivapriya Ganapathy is a research scholar working on Lesbian feminism and Language for her doctoral thesis. Her poems have appeared in various online magazines and three international anthologies. She currently resides in Chennai, and considers herself a lazy blogger who finds writing and drinking copious amounts of tea immensely therapeutic.

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