July 2017
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poem: "Unshackled!"


In my application to join the Soulforce equality ride, I was asked to depict my vision of liberation for all people. The title is an ironic reference to the radio program Unshackled!, which I used to listen to as a child. I remember stories of queer people becoming 'unshackled' by going straight (among other stories which actually were inspiring).



Unshackled!


sitting in a featureless, dimly-lit room,
wearing dark goggles,
ankles chained to wrists.

letting light in unguarded eyes will burn them out
and shackles are just part of the human body

I wear my goggles to keep myself safe,
ignore the space between
my skin and the shackles,
ignore the scars from the weight of the metal.

daily, darken the glass of my friends' goggles
(for protection, out of love)
daily, compete to see who can shake chains the loudest
(but make sure I'm not loosening them; I do not want to lose my humanity!)

Someone walks in -- walks! what is this?
where are your shackles?
why aren't you crawling with hands and feet close together?
how unnatural!

But the walking one doesn't seem to be in pain from those strange movements
and in comes another!
If to be shackled is to be human, who are these creatures?

They offer keys to each of us,
thrown away with scorn by those who want to remain truly human, properly shackled.
But a few accept --
holding them by the wrong end, scratching hard-to-reach places with them.

The walking ones bring in shackles.
perhaps they've come to their senses? they will wear them and become human again?
(maybe I'll be a good friend and offer to darken some goggles for them)
instead they show those with keys how to use them in the locks.

The unlocked ones try walking and it hurts, it hurts, they cry out and fall down.
Some hurry to put their shackles back on.
But the walking ones help the few who stay unchained, stretching unused muscles
and offering a shoulder to help them limp about.

We watch with confusion as they seem to lose their pain --
as they become walking ones!
Some of us turn away, determined not to be fooled by those tricks:
"the walking ones will die from that pain they pretend not to have, and we will not witness it"

But I turn only halfway, and duck my head to sneak glances
as the walking becomes dancing
so beautiful! I forget myself and turn fully to face them,
pulling off my goggles without realizing what I am doing; I must see this!
my friends frantically try to put my goggles back on for me, not wanting my eyes burnt,
but I resist, and though my eyes stream with tears, I can see better than before!

The next time the walking ones offer me a key, I take it;
I will become a dancer.
sounds: The Notwist - One With the Freaks | Powered by Last.fm
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.