Misplaced Missives 14 & 84, And How They Came To Be

Generally, I’d prefer not to talk about what inspired me to write the missives. Most of them bubbled forth from religious doubt and self hatred and fears of growing up. Some are naturally darker than others… but they are not unique. Not in what they sprung from.

Recently, and not recently, stories have come to light about predators, protected by their power and by their peers, preying upon those who should have been able to trust them. People who failed so spectacularly to be decent human beings that there are no words to describe them.

They are not unique either.

I know that the hashtag “me too” is trending right now and that the widespread abuse and harassment is startling to some and, no doubt, triggering to others. I know that words can be the great equalizer and that they hold the magic to right wrongs. I believe that. But right now, the wrongs seem so great, I’m not sure there’s enough magic left in the world to fix them.

While reading the victim accounts, from survivors who were in the pathway of this evil by simply existing in Hollywood, on the road to the Olympics, at Fox News, in their daily lives,  I initially felt shocked. Initially. Now I don’t know what I feel, but I have nothing new written to offer you.

All I have are two poems I wrote a long time ago: One written at age 16 for a friend who was targeted online by a sexual predator. And one written at 22 for a friend who refused to go to the police after she was raped.

These experiences are heartbreakingly common and I have nothing to add to that.

 14. Can I?

Am I allowed to be angry?
Can I yell? Can I scream?
You think it doesn’t affect me
But how can that be, when
When I see you, it hurts to believe
That I failed you.

Maybe there was something I could have done.
Something I didn’t say or do for you.
To let you know, there was nothing to prove.
Nothing you had to do, to validate that you matter.
Was that it? Were you trying to illustrate innate worth?
You walked willingly into the Mad Hatter’s
Maze after striving to be the only one in his gaze,
And it still amazes me that you claim that’s where
You felt whole and complete.
How can a old friend compete
With the call of an older man?
We were kids.
And he wasn’t.
That’s something awfully shady,
And you fell prey swiftly.

Am I allowed to be sad?
Can I tear up? Can I cry?
You think I’m going to be mad.
But now all I want is to try,
Try to understand the why
And wonder if I failed you.

Maybe there was nothing I could’ve done
Nothing to stop the path you followed
And maybe my trying would have pissed you off
But not trying has left me hollowed.
It’s a hard pill to swallow:
Impotency
Inadequacy
Weakness
I knew you needed to be saved.
And I could do less than nothing
To protect you from the man more than deranged.
Years down the road,
I still grasp tight to this regret that I own
Engraved with your signature.

So I ask once more:
Am I allowed a say in this?
Can I be angry? Can I be sad?

 84. Forgiveness

How can you tolerate it?
Forgive
Not seek revenge?
Pretend
It Never Happened

but It did.
And you just keep it in.
Letting time heal and time mend,
What never should’ve been
(Forgiven)
And I can’t comprehend it.

You’re holding me back
From a justified act.
Do you honestly believe
They deserve to be forgiven?

Impotent anger and ineffectual violence
You asked me to keep my silence
Since you refused to pursue…
Keep your confidence,
Since charges would lead nowhere…
But my heart cries out for justice.
Why must this be the right path?
How can you ask me to stand back?

They stole your control.
Truth be told,
The only way I know
To react to thieves,
To sinners , like these
Is to end them.
Let God sort it out.

Do you honestly believe
They deserve to be forgiven?

These are my first hand accounts. And just because they happen to be about women, doesn’t mean I think this is a Men vs Women issue, it’s clearly more than that, but I don’t know how to shape my current thoughts about power dynamics and corruption. So, I leave you with this quote, to make a long post, even longer:

 “When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgement. The artists, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, “a lover’s quarrel with the world.” In pursuing his perceptions of reality he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role.”

― John F. Kennedy

Jessie Gutierrez

This post feels like it started nowhere and stayed there. I’m sorry, I wish there were easy answers and prevailing justice and forthcoming change… but I fear there’s not.

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