Issue #54


Speak Up Not Over

Speak Up Not Over

Joy Babbitt

Smile more – you say

Strolling the cracked sidewalks 

Of the mothers’ backs you break

As I’m losing my mind, 

Trying to find the words to say– 


In a way I can’t state, 

One that doesn’t spark debate.

Negotiations always on the way we show our face

In the way skirt lengths are policed 

Above the drinks that are laced

With the toxic masculinity 

That sparks the violence, entitlement– 

Over the ones that sleep with eyes open

And every sister, mother, daughter, paints a picture

Of the water we are drowning under

Hands rising up from the slaughter

We long for the future 

Where we never had to have taught her 

To walk with your keys between your knuckles

Like knives

And don’t falter – keep your wire sewn jaw shut

So the buzzing of flies can’t release.

It’d be rude of you to interrupt

So be polite, quiet and hide

You never know their reaction of being denied

If it’s the action of a trigger or killer or– 

Calm down – you say

NotAllMen are the villains in your menstrual play

But how can I tell which ones from a cast

Are keeping in character or wearing the mask?

And when the second act comes back around

And from stage left, the sky falls down

With heavy splats and a hailstorm of– 

Bloodied tampons shoved in pockets

Used as little cherry bombs.

But know that I don’t want a war

Just a chance to stand tall

Next to every other womxn

That has ever felt small. 

So let me speak up

Before I’m caught in another knot 

Of forgotten weeks of feeling numb

Stand side by side in alliance 

But don’t forget to look around and ever closer

Until one day, you’ll learn how to

Speak Up Not Over

Poem for Dad