Smile

I usually don’t post two poems, one after another. I try to write something of substance in between. But I am tired after the verdict today and so I am sharing a poem I wrote about our smiles, by way of proxy for our whole bodies. It speaks to how we are trained to behave in specific ways, then punished for those same actions. This poem owes a debt to the song Smile, by Charlie Chaplin. The way he treated women is not lost on me, and also informs this poem. this poem is meant to be read aloud. I was planning to save it for a slam. Instead I am sharing it here. It was tonally designed to be performed, so please forgive it’s visual clunkiness.


Smile

xb7tg8nmcdx57zxprll0.jpgSmile though your heart is aching

“Hey
Hey you
With the hair
What you got
Under there?
Come on
Baby girl
You like when I stare

Smile for me
The kind of sort
Who likes ’em round
And likes ’em short
But only if they
Smile nice
You know I’m not
Gonna ask you twice”

Smile even though it’s breaking

Breaking
This autonomy
Lost to men
Who don’t know me

“No”
I’m blunt

“Fuck you, you cunt”
He moves in close
Like nose to nose

My smile is not a gift I give
My toll to live
Unscathed
It says
I’m ready to erase
Replace
You paint the canvas of my face

“Smile”

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by

Smile
Little girl
Smile when he stands
Smile when it lands
Smile at his hands
Smile for your man

If you smile through your pain and sorrow

“Ma’am?”
She shows a picture
Shows a fiction
Shows a fixture
When somebody shouted cheese
When you did the thing we all do
And you smiled
Just to please

“If he hurt you like you say
How’d you smile the next day?
Is this a game you like to play?”

Smile and maybe tomorrow

So you leave
The camera clicks
You duck your head
You count to six
You call it up
The memory
Muscles trained since puberty

You flash a smile
On your lips
It doesn’t reach your eyes

“Smile”
Someone cries

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just –


 

To read all the #verseday poems, click here. To read my twitter poems, click here.

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