The poem as grounds for resistance

O'Brien, Colleen



Poetry as a language is a way to express myself with the veil of a hidden meaning behind each word. Because poetry uses symbolic language, I feel safe in expressing myself since whoever reads my words can interpret it however they want. At times when I write poetry and re-read it at a later date, I can't always remember what prompted me to write the words I wrote, nor, know exactly what I meant by them. Many times, the words that come out of me came from a place that I am not aware of. This holds true when it came to writing about the four day quarantine ordeal. Having to take medication I did not need and having to lock-up everything I own, put me into a silent place. The vulnerability of having to trust and depend on the state as a caregiver knowing full well that if the state was a parent, it would be charged with neglect and abuse, put me in crisis survivor mode. I resisted and kept ¼ of a jar of peanut butter out with my "Keep on person" medication. I needed that safety net just in case, (as a diabetic) my blood sugar level dropped. I didn't anticipate the caffeine withdrawal or the migraine type headache that happened because I had no coffee. So, besides anxiety, another side-effect of the quarantine was mass caffeine withdrawal, not to mention whatever "invisible" side effects of the little white pills that were given out to us. I didn't panic when I was weighed and the scale determined that I was to receive 8 white pills for my first dose and another 8 for my second. Surprise, 16 pills for an ailment I did not have. No, I didn't panic but I did something worse. I rationalized with my oppressors by humanizing them and agreeing with their decision. This behavior was easier for me to digest than to admit that, to them, we are a herd of cattle who provides their nutrition (paychecks). The four days felt like forty years. I totally get the idea of 40 days in the desert because the suffering was real. I suffered, we suffered, but thanks to the other 15 women in my illegal 16-man cell, we made it through with a lot of crying and laughter. Attached is my individual poem I wrote which I find is more honest than I can ever be. (Paper written as a response to a "supposive" scabies outbreak and the four day quarantine and forced medical treatment.) Eight White Pills Eight white pills no shampoo even on white 16 total an old white barethread mini pills Parasites towel designed not in store no comb to kill Didn't itch my dry skin what is no red patches starts to itch not there Side effects don't scratch are you attacking Was harm done? I hid vaseline my body Couldn't think I use it and the Tilted words with mirth good Dirty linens As a F-you microorganisms Starving bellies I don't trust you there Waiting for food You'd let me burn I am drying disappointed garbage anger steams out Open my locker! this is bullshit withering Clip that red tag I try to smile in a way A 34¢ noodle I can do this But I have could I die for the screams turn to hold on no phone calls inward I've desperation sits but an animal got a minutes drag is below bigger plan nerves fray the surface one Strange officers I know this is without ensemble enforcers about saving lock downs Lye soap your own ass and Fragrant yellow I can think quarantines.

Author: O'Brien, Colleen

Author Location: Michigan

Date: November 14, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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