“Imagine never belonging to your own body. Your own body never belonging to you. Imagine you were programmed only to say yes when a man pulls the string. Imagine when you say no, it’s like men can’t hear it. Like you are just a doll who says yes and Momma and sleepy. Like when they lay you down, your eyes close, and you don’t remember anything that happens next. Imagine the world that tells you this is your fault.” — Shaindell Beers, “Playing Dolls” (emphases in original)
“It’s the same double-standard, always;
a god can sleep with as many
mortals as he wants
but a goddess takes a man as a lover
and Zeus must intervene.
I decried Zeus for his indiscretions
with Leda and Europa,
but, alas, he’s Zeus, and there’s no reasoning.
When I uttered Leda’s name, I faltered,
because she’s the reason for Helen
and this insipid war.
At the crack in my voice, Zeus
chuckled—I knew my case was lost
but tried every trick possible,
Odysseus isn’t really a mortal—
he’s almost a god, or why would Athena,
your daughter, from your own head sprung,
so adore him? Or
Odysseus is less than a mortal—
it was a pity. He washed up on my shore,
more a half-drowned kitten than a man—
can I keep him?
But none of these worked.
Zeus, who must have Hera and Leda
and Europa and many others
can’t understand the curse
of being alone
Shaindel Beers, “The Calypso Diaries” (emphasis in original)
“Plastic bat and ball, you were with me when I learned
life’s meanest lesson. That to be a girl and smaller
is always worse. In the park, I’d play with whoever wanted.
Andy and his family or anyone there on picnic.
Under the pavilion where I learned to read bad words
on the rafters, two boys took you away—plastic bat
and ball. Big, hulking boys. Larger than my father
who could hit the ball out of the yard whenever
he wanted. The sandy-haired one held the bat up
to my face and said, ‘There’s a part of a man like this,’
He thrust the bat closer. My face flinched at the cold coming off
of it. He said, ‘It gets hard like this.’ Shook the bat closer.
‘Someday, you will want it up inside you.’ The other boy
laughed. Then one of them, I don’t remember, unzipped
and peed a puddle under the picnic table. Swished
the business end of the bat in it, rolled my ball through,
then told me to go home. I knew then, boys like this,
they were the kings. This was their world.
And I was only visiting.”
– Shaindel Beers, “Ode to Plastic Bat and Ball”