My Body, My Protest: After Mon Laferte

In silence, I stand

Nipples bared and bowed

To the bravery of the stolen

Of the forgotten voices

Of the raped

Of the tortured

Of those killed in the name of freedom

 

I bare my body

I surrender this suit

I plaster truth

I carve it into the bones of me

Until the world hears

 

En Chile torturan violan y matan.

 

“In Chile they torture, rape and kill.”

Commentary: My Body, My Protest (After Mon Laferte)

The story behind the poem My Body, My Protest, begins with me stumbling into bed at 4:30am, slightly (or not so slightly) intoxicated after a night out dancing. I was doing the habitual scroll through my Instagram timeline when I came across an E! News post detailing the events occurring at the Latin Grammy’s. This is where I first saw Mon Laferte’s political red carpet protest moment, where she completely bares her chest to strategically raise awareness of the grotesque acts of police brutality taking place in Chile right now.

Chile is currently experiencing a season of political unrest as thousands exercise their political right to protest. Protesters are taking to the streets to express their fury at the establishment and are demanding social reforms to address the high levels of inequality the country is experiencing.

Here is a useful link for more details on what is happening/has happened in Chile during the protests:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-50512093?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c452lzylemmt/chile-protests&link_location=live-reporting-story 

In summary, 22 people have been killed as a result of excessive police force, while thousands have been seriously injured, tortured and/or sexually assaulted. These are absolutely abhorrent acts of injustice and I was profoundly moved by this whole situation, compelling me to write something about it then and there. I deeply admire Mon Laferte for using her platform to raise awareness of the human rights abuses that are happening all over the world. Mon Laferte reminded us all that our bodies are not merely sexual tools, they are powerful vessels – holding, giving and supporting life.

Here Mon Laferte chose to use her body to express a significant message. She utilised the power of the naked female form to highlight our human right to protest, to challenge norms, to shake systems, to change the world.

Gethsemane

There will be times you are at your lowest points

When anguish engulfs you and there is nowhere left to run

And the words of our loved ones fall flat, hallow

 

No one can meet you in this darkness

And the support will seem lack lustre

Will seem disingenuous

Will be flawed

And you retreat within, in solitude

Praying away this poison chalice

This cup of suffering

In a manic display

Until your legs give way and succumb

To the gravity of surrender

 

And then

Beyond the unrest

Beyond the disquiet of your anxiety

The starring of the still small voice

Overtakes you to reveal

 

“Beyond this pain

Beyond this bitter suffering

And far beyond what your mind can perceive

Lays a promise, a hope,

A purpose for all that be

Rooted in my immeasurable love

 

And, oh, how I love you,

Cherished one

One day you will see

The glory and the splendour

Of an eternity with me.”

 

And as these words leave me

Some things do stay

Like the peace that passeth understanding

To guide me on my way.

Commentary: Gethsemane

I was in my room reading Matthew 26:36-46 and I was struck by the sheer humanness of Jesus. The lines –

38 “and he said to them, ‘The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.’

– hit me first and birthed the opening lines of my poem Gethsemane. We have all experienced extremely low and painful moments in our lives, what this passage reveals to us is that Jesus has been there too. In my weakest and most heartbroken, when the sorrow in my heart was so great it almost crushed me – God has felt this too. I am floored that this is a Love and this is a God who intimately knows my suffering and that through suffering I can grow deeper in my relationship with Christ.

The lines –

40 “Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, ‘How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour?'”

– hit me next and I felt the disappointment Jesus must have felt in that moment when he found his disciples asleep. The experience of being disappointed by your friends and loved ones is profoundly universal and I wanted to capture that my poem as much as I could. People let us down and the weight of that disappointment can be enormously heavy but I have found in my experiences of disappointment God can meet you there and help you carry that weight (and even take it away).

Seasons Change

You were my climate

I would bend & yield to your slightest variation

When you were my sun, I would dress down for you, all skin, melanin, exposure

Blanketed by your warmth

 I vacationed in your love

 

Until the season called for your coldness

I would grimace & endure your presence

Like a sore throat in recovery

 

The autumns of your indifference

Brought with it a kaleidoscope of mystery

As the leaves fell from our dreams

Unrealised

We marvelled at the unsettling paradox

That the beauty of our ideals may never be fully actualised

But the beauty stands unwavering

All the same

 

The winter of our love

Brought with it a necessary mourning

As I purged you, heart and soul

Piercing through with icy precision

I allowed it to hurt

I gloried in the courage it took to brave your coldness

To endure

Until the last morsel of this blizzarding love

Melted away

 

Bringing forth a spring of reflection

Of clarity

As I meditated on all the reasons I had to leave:

That no matter how hard I adapt

To your vicissitudes

Your endless variations

I found myself staring

Perpetually

At this ticket back

To myself

 

For my heart is a tropical island

Of dreams & beauty & irresistible warmth

Until my rain comes like a hot baptism

Ready to cleanse & make a new

To saver in the promise of a warmer tomorrow

 

And for now, maybe that’s what I need more

As I vacationed in your temperate maritime climate

It is time for this sojourning solider to return home

Look Within

It’s not here

The Fear that plagues you

The Love that binds you

The Desire that drives you

 

It’s not here

The mechanisms of love

The barriers you place around it

The romantic illusions that pollute it

The myths that mask you from the truth

 

It’s not here

The saving grace

The divine light

Blazing away sorrows history

From your veins, from your veins

 

It’s not here

In that powdery embrace

A nose full, a mouth full,

a forbidden pharmacy

 

It’s not here

In that liquid luck

And all the ways you try to orchestrate your own destruction

It’s not here

It’s not here

It’s not here

 

 

Look within.

Amplified

 

No substance truly annihilates forsaken pain

No chemical can cure the crash

Crash

Crash

Of a shattering heart

Breaking

On the floor of your chest

The bleeding,

The agony,

It cannot be avoided

Numbed, perhaps

But that is like

Walking bare foot

Over the shards of your own heart

Pretending the wounds aren’t there

Pretending

That the pieces

Of your once whole heart

Aren’t now festering inside of you

Like a malignant lump

No longer beating

But bleeding

Seeping through every crevice of your soul

Until you are utterly consumed

 

Neglected pain

Cannot be numbed by illegal substances

That promise of temporal joy

Temporal escape

Temporal release

Because as the substance leaves you

And your plane lands

And you feel yourself descending

Down a very deep hole

The pain will greet you there

That misery you left on stand by

On hold

Because life got in the way

 

But I know, love

This world is still cruel to the kindest of souls

And life doesn’t stop

Life doesn’t give way

Life doesn’t allow you to process this pain away – naturally

 

So we drink it away,

We smoke it away,

We love it away

But when your plane lands

And you feel yourself descending

Down a very deep hole

The pain will greet you there

Larger than before

So do not expect it to whisper

Do not expect it to meet you conveniently

Expect the room where your pain resides to be empty

Cleared of any redeeming quality

So when the chorus of your pain takes to the mic

Expect its volume, its power to be

Amplified