Where I Live

When the temperature escalates
into triple digits
I can pull on shorts
spaghetti-strapped tank top
let my long hair flow
where I live

I can drive to the beach
alone, no chaperone required
I'm allowed to drink, smoke
in a bar with girlfriends
or by myself if I'm so inclined
where I live

I vote, direct
the rudder of my life
My face graces a library card, I
enjoy access to uncensored
world news and movies
where I live

My body belongs to me, boldly
I say no to sex or yes, uninhibitedly
enjoy it, can look a man in the eye
without fear of reprisal
highlight cleavage
& sleep unmolested
where I live

I read, I write
can denounce government
rant on a stage
state my opinion
devise my own religion
& incur no beatings
no acid flung
no match set to skin

Where I live
value isn't presumed void
by vagina and breasts
Where I live
we record our daughters' births
Where I live
we render no proclamation
against the feminine gender
through mutilation by knife
or a sharp shard of glass
where I live.

Re-posted for 100Thousand poets for change</a>
– thanks to Natasha Head for organizing a place for us to work for change. Come link up or leave your thoughts on making a better world.

Yesterday I followed a link on Poet Laundry's site that led to an article on how Afghanistan women risk their lives to write poetry. When one young woman was asked how old she was, she said she didn't know; girls' birthdays weren't recorded. Another woman was caught writing poetry and was beaten by her brothers. A few weeks later she was dead -- she had set herself on fire. The writer wasn't sure why, but the best guess was that women throw themselves on the funeral pyre when a man they love is dead and so in light of her deep love for poetry... When I saw the prompt at Poetry Jam</a> on writing about what you value in life, the idea for this poem immediately showed up. The women discussed were not allowed to write poetry, let alone read it out loud. All they could do, and this was at dire risk to themselves, was call a number and read their poem to a woman who then wrote it down. I'm not talking about political poems of insurgence, I mean ANY poetry. It just made me that much more deeply appreciative of our freedom and for the opportunities we have to share our poetry. I also posted this on
dVerse</a>. I invite you to read the wonderful message there about the on-line poetic community.