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Stiff Unyielding Hearts

Those who have always held power

righteous in their minds, in their hearts

certain of the certainty of their own beliefs

certain they know what is best, what is good and what is evil.

Power and good and evil

are what they breathe, what sustains them, what

fills their stiff, unyielding hearts.

We breathe air, drink water,

we are sustained by food 

we just want to live.

We want children only when we want to carry them and bear them

and love them.

What is radical about that?

What is evil?

Why is it a question?

I say – I scream at them -- where is the question?

You have no right to question my body, my life

my choice – what gives you the right?

Not your righteousness which feeds your power.

not your wealth, boosted by your male-ness

not your white skin or your black robes 

hiding behind your gavels till you drop dead.


Those who have always held power

make me sick, make me cry, fill me with fury

make me raise my fist, make me walk the streets

and raise my sign, yelling,

and give my money

and try to hold on to hope.

They sit at their polished wooden desks

in their wooden chambers

grasping wooden gavels

sneering and puffed with certainty;

they know what is right, what is best

what is good, what is evil.

Listen …

there is a scratching at the doors

a knocking, a pounding,



a wave of sound

and the doors break down

and we fill their rooms

and we smash their gavels

and sneer in their faces

and scream in the faces 

of those who have always held power.


We do not harm them.

We stand in silence

stare into their eyes

inflicting discomfort, distress

making them wiggle in their wooden seats

and cough and jitter and look away.

We stand, we stare

we do this as long as we have to

till their sweat pops 

till we smell their fear.

We yell Get up, get out, 

do it fast

do it now.

We watch silently as 

those who have always held power

file past us, leave one by one.


Four weeks from now, on a 

black, knife-edged night

each man will be brought to an exam room

and forced to wear a paper gown

and feel a cold speculum shoved somewhere inside him.

His feet yanked into stirrups

a sonogram wand jammed into his belly

his head yanked towards the screen.

his eyes pried open

forced to look at that gauzy, grainy image

while on the screen, with our finger, we circle

around and around that tiny kidney bean.


We tell each one

you will give birth.

You will give birth

alone, in pain, in tears

you will bear this child because I say so

because it’s too late, it is not your choice, it never was.

You are gravid.

You will carry and birth this child,

figure out 

how to feed it, clothe it, love it.

It’s not your choice, it never was.


Will we laugh? Will we smile, benignly?

Will we sneer, scream it in their faces?

Will we puff with righteousness?


We will leave. Walk into

the knife-edged night 

lock the doors behind us.

Each man

alone on his cold metal table, 

in that thin paper gown,

no longer righteous, not proud

or good or evil,




feeling the thud and thunder of 

his stiff, unyielding heart.

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