Concrete Women: A Found Poem

By Geneva Phillips 

I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable
If I understood what we’re doing here
            We can’t fix ourselves
Fill out an inmate request

From a D.O.C. program facilitator

“The Department of Corrections does NOT
care about your rehabilitation. You
are here to be punished.”
Let us begin as we mean to go on.
            Results may vary.

Heavy gauge locks on each door
            On a molecular level, nothing is solid

Disturbing patterns of behavior evident
Primarily, gender-specific violence
Against women

            It is important to finish
            What you start

It never would have happened
            If she had stayed at home

They like to say it’s a moral question
When really it’s a money question
           Insufficient funds

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away
There lived some princesses. They were
All locked up, where they belong.

Breaking open worlds scarred over
            With words falling out
On the basis of sexual orientation

State employment opportunities, great benefits
Particularly, white straight male dominance
            Hatred is an act
All requests must be approved by Warden
            Communities of Color
  Low-income people
            And Indigenous populations
            Must come together, organize
            Remember how to breathe
                        And fight for hope 

There are two kinds of people in the world
            Your access is denied 

Serious side effects can occur

“What’s the worst thing you ever did?” she asked.
            It doesn’t have to be true
            As long as people believe it

All the pieces can be made to fit together
            If you try hard enough

He’s a real stand-up guy, I mean,
            A great guy
Only the mother was charged
            Well, what do you expect?
                        It’s Oklahoma.
                                    Cuff up

They seek to make us without resistance
            Not even girls want to be girls
So long as our feminine archetype
            Is deplorably weak and simpers
                        Always expected to provide service
                                    With a smile
                                                Eager to please

Relentless tattooed Above R. eyebrow

You’re wrong about them
           Those concrete women
Prisoners of hope
            They are everything you say
                        And so much more

Count is clear

It’s not about deserve,
          It’s about believe,
                        And I believe
You are free to go 

            No U Turns

The veil was lifted from their hearts

            And they all lived
                       Happily ever after 

Or something like that

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