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Be-Side

The Home of Hakm's B-Side e-alter ego...his auxiliary brain or external hard drive...

Work - by hakim bellamy

(Edited via performance at TEDxABQWomen in Albuquerque, NM on December 1st. The full text is below. This poem will be published in my forthcoming book “Swear" by West End Press in March 2013)

WORK

I

There are few things more difficult

than getting lipstick

out of a blue collar

for a few things

we work

work like

lipstick on a blue collar

like three jobs

and the sex

we still can’t afford

to have

like a sex worker

fancy feet fantasies

of strawberry toes

dipped in fondue faces

while we rest

in the heel of society

I will never

let him have my feet

of running

kicking

and standing

instead of lying down

II

That pill

drug skid marks

down my esophagus

after kicking

and screaming

‘cross my tongue

awoke

took my longest finger

out of me

at 6 o’clock

erected it

to twelve

and shoved it past

his sleeping nose

there is nothing sexy

about eye sockets.

when the perpetrator

sleeps over

it’s date rape

whether the patron

paid

or not

III

my arms

are longer than his sentence

rivet strong and smooth

sometimes

for fastening

the maturation of

baby boys

to Maybe Men

other times

for the quickening

of the removal

of his sternum

from my bosom

maybe baby

maybe not

these arms

do not belong to him

they are open

to me

IV

My ankles

were pregnant

with desperate housework

when I collared him

lipstick I did not recognize

perfume I did

but did not blame her for being a victim

did not blame my hands

for refusing to wash

anymore of his fucking shirts

did not blame god

for leaving my daughter’s father

and his patriarchal paycheck

for putting my baby girl

on my back

putting food and shelter

on my shoulders

making my living

off my ass

my brain

cannot be judged by its cover,

my complexion, nor my circumstance

not where I clock in

or clock out

I have a degree

in sociology

and survival

and only one

is coming in handy

V

My daughter

is my body of labor

a woman now

born from my rib

pushed from my pelvis

apple of my Eve

I named her “Eden”

she has nested with serpents

seen me

serve leg, thigh and breast

to a tapeworm society

that cannibalizes its women

she’s seen

my serviceable body parts

removed

used to fill their holes

she’s seen my heart overlooked

cast plate-side

like a gizzard

she’s seen them

eat me

from the inside

out

VI

she barely remembers

my housewife days

of not lifting a finger

to her father

and him

putting himself

where ever he wanted

his fists

as hard as he wanted

and I chose

bait instead of bitch

I chose pussy

instead of prison

because I rather teach her

teach her

that there is dirt

underneath every French manicure

that working girls

get their ass kicked for a living

that’s a choice for some

less of a choice for others

but so is getting your ass kicked

for love

for life

teach her

the difference between sale and sacrifice

is the cost and the price

like the difference between

pay equity and fair wage

teach her the difference between

high risk career

and poor life choices

that either way we have rights

even when they put their palms

over our voices

I taught her that

I’d rather give the street

what her father repeatedly took

even pride

what she learned from me

is the value of her body

for better or for worse

she learned not to stay for bullshit

like “relationships take work”

work takes work

and work consists

of whatever a body

is obliged to do.