National Poetry Month: Echo Edition (Part 2)

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All I Can Do

by Jaclyn Heng

 

This is for the times I’ve had to keep a count of the number of days that went by without me getting whistled at or getting looked up-and-down while walking from my car to the BRT when travelling to college each day. A mere 7-minute walk and yet the Days I Did Not Get Catcalled count never reached a number where I needed more than my own two hands to count. 

This is for the one time I sent a middle-finger to a man whistling at me from a lorry, on a day that I’d had enough. I told my parents about it and immediately got told off for being vulgar, then spent the next week using a different route to college in fear that that same man would come back for revenge. 

But most of all, this is for all you girls out there who don’t even get to feel safe when walking alone on a street. 

This should not be the way we have to live, yet it is. 

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Head down.

Quick paces.

Mouth shut.

Don’t engage.

Don’t react.

Don’t make yourself a target. 

That’s all they tell me to do. 

 

Grind your teeth.

Avert your eyes. 

Curse them with silent words.

Because that’s all you can do.

 

Who cares?

I scream and holler.

Send his whistle back to him like a sharpened spear.

I want to make him hurt.

 

My rage slices down the middle of his lips 

the motion of a murderous “shh”.

My disgust materialised into bayonets 

thrust through his sinful eyes.

My flying fist travels in the arc of a smile 

just like the one he asked me for.

 

But I do nothing.

Except grind my teeth and avert my eyes.

My cursing internal and voiceless.

Because that’s all I can do. 

 

yours

by Deryn Goon

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the words you scrawl

in the depths of your despair

are not just pretty nothings-

they set fire beneath the skin.

 

the worlds you paint

(from starry skies to sordid smiles)

are not stains with no meaning-

they link eyes to lips.

 

the melodies you tease

from old fashioned wood and strings

are not notes for the background-

you awaken hearts, and minds.

 

the lines you call

amongst a cacophony of whispers

are not just empty words-

you bring the dead to life.

 

there are those who see,

who listen,

who know,

who understand.

 

we see you, we recognise you,

and we tell you this:

 

continue.

 

the world is yours to command.

 

 

I will fight

By Lynn Hor

 

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it” — Maya Angelou

 

This one goes out to all the survivors out there. Strong, Courageous, Beautiful, Inspiring, Powerful.

Be kind to yourself, you deserve more than just survival, you deserve peace. You are allowed to heal, you are allowed to fight back. I stand with each and everyone of you because no one should ever have to feel alone. It may seem impossible now, but it will get better. Just know that there is, and there will always be hope.

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you took away my body

but you will never destroy my spirit

or tarnish my soul.

 

the dark memory burns in the back of my mind

exhausted from the eternal agony

the world crumbles where crimson skies bleed

but i will try to find the quaint beauty in things.

 

i will not let myself tramp 

the perpetual journey of crippling fear

and wilt away from the touch of reality

 

loneliness will not take a seat alongside me

as i brave the eventualities 

of this pandemonium.

 

silence will not sit on my lips

even as my lungs drown

in this perverse nightmare.

 

i will find the flicker of courage

to let me feel life again the way i should

to push through where the terrors 

no longer have a hold on me

until my last dying breath I will fight.

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