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.
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.
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.
by Deryn Goon
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,
we see you, we recognise you,
and we tell you this:
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.
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.