Prize Poetry

Please No Inappropriate Things

by a young woman, age 20

Everyone is telling me that it's okay

because they're afraid to admit that it isn't its never been okay to have to push my response back into my tongue because what I bring to the light is not appropriate.

I'm told:

You can talk about the first time you realized that sex wasn't what you thought it meant or when you made drastic decisions and ended up harboring heart breaking stories in swollen wind beaten tents passing bottles and bongs around a fire pit that you never saw lit.

Ears will twitch and mouths will twist when you tell them about the parking lot where you laughed as lost boys sucked, snorted, and licked sass off of your breasts, being a table had never felt like an honor but I loved the glint of white teeth and the light bouncing off of carefree dimples, gauges, and piercings.
Its okay to mention that you found freedom in belonging to no one and not knowing home, these are the topics that are found to be suitable, normal when you're seen as a delinquent, as long as you stick to what others find appropriate.
You cant delve too deep into the specifics its not as enlightening to hear, that rape left you numb and somewhat senseless, so you tried to see if maybe you could fill in the gap with something they called consent.

Crowds might get shifty if you say
that the only times you felt love is when you could look at a bottle of scentless clear liquid putting it to your wrist and tilting it in I was always told love was red and what better way to love myself than to open up my paper thin barrier and drip it?

I dripped love,
but for some reason no one wants to hear about it.

I am not permitted to speak on my trauma if it does not have a happy or at least somewhat subtle ending, because then I am speaking out of the turn I was granted, I'll be known as irrational if I open up about the fists and tongues that broke me, told that I am not uplifting every time I admit that the nights I talked alone in the bathroom I was whispering to whatever pointed thing I managed to reach that I didn't know why but when it was over it would have then made me happy.

Someone will say its crude to be unsure of when I will stop unbuttoning mistakes and thinning out around my rib cage curling their lips and tapping their feet at the description of the nights I would self mutilate, these things are not okay for an audience wanting what they feel is a poet.

Requesting that I for once be unraveled and outspoken but please, keep out the inappropriate things.

[Author's statement: When I wrote Inappropriate things my goal was to try to reach out just a bit more to the things I am not comfortable being completely open about. I have had a couple poems where people will say it felt as if I was holding something back. I've never had a problem laying out what I am passionate about when it comes to racism, sexism, gender roles etc. so I tried to get a little more personal in this piece. But this is just the beginning. I will only keep going from here. :) Thank you so much Pongo for the honorable mention on this poem!]