I Am No Cow

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Last night at Zombie Salon, Muse Tara shared video of a young man who does spoken poetry. Credit to her son, Flynn, who turned Tara on to this poet, Jon Sands. A link to one of his performances is below. I thought I’d take a stab at trying to write something for this genre and my attempt is below. Guess you’ll just have to imagine me doing a kick-ass dramatic read of this to you. I’d love to hear what you think.

John Lennon music was playing on the stereo when I was raped. He’d turned the music up to jet engine levels to cover the sound of my pleading and tears. No one could hear me scream. Not even me. Not even my rapist. John Lennon. Not “The River,” Bruce Springsteen’s new album that the rapist and I had both coincidentally received as Christmas gifts a few weeks before, but John Lennon of “Oh My Love” and “Woman” and “Imagine” was the soundtrack of my methodical degradation. Lennon would have wept over that callous irony. If he could have, he would surely have climbed from his crumpled sheets, pushing aside the Hair Love signs, gently squeezing Yoko’s thigh as he floated off their bed, to come and hold me. He would have “Now, now”-ed that which was somehow passing for a man – that thing determined to erase and destroy me and made him pull back, hang-dog his head, shed his own tears of remorse and shame. But by then, Lennon had been erased himself by madness and bullets and a country that has always been amnesic about mental illness — leaves those sorrowful souls writhing on their beds of nails until they’ve lost so much of their own blood, gone deathly anemic, that they have to take someone else’s. We only see them when they are handcuffed and on our TV screens, or looming over us with fists and dead eyes. There was no one to save me that frigid January night where just an hour before my breath had sprouted flowers everywhere in the air around me as I stepped out of the car. So this happened. It happened. And then there were the next moments and days and years and decades for me to chew on this bitter cud – regurgitating over and over like one of the fine heifers in the fields I’d pass when as a teenager I’d ride my bike to my friend Joann’s house. But I am no cow. I will not move quietly down the curving corral of that slaughterhouse, following the tail in front of me, careless of the hammer about to pierce my skull. As there is no way to forget, to truly erase having been for a time erased, I wear this act of violence like a bracelet. It rests on my skin, but does not cover me, just adorns. Whether you find it ugly, painful, distasteful, or wish I wouldn’t choose to display it in public, it still is. It moves with me but no longer bends me. Even those vividly spotted cows can only regurgitate so often before their bodies are able to break down the hay, absorb the nutrients in what at first seems wholly indigestible, and use it to broaden their withers, strengthen their flanks. And so I am that much more. Pissed as hell to have been forced to live through those hours, but now, strong as hell despite it.

© Julie Ayers

October 2011

Elegy

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About Julie Ayers

Seasoned apocaloptimist, keen admirer of well-placed words, fierce mama bear of extra special children, black belt hugger, and advocate for a fashion rebellion which elevates the most human of hearts to socially acceptable outerwear.

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