Woman, fight back

In honor of International Women’s Day, Michelle Manese was kind enough to allow me to post her piece called “Woman, fight back” below. She is one of the love poets from a group of spoken word artists called Words Anonymous.

I watched her perform this piece last year and it struck such a powerful chord that it was stayed with me every since. I was lucky enough to finally meet the lovely poetess at the Project VOICE performance last week.

You can read more of her works HERE.


Woman, fight back

M Manese // 09162014

The first time she made excuses for him, it was because he was late. He’s just stuck in traffic, she said. He’ll get here eventually. The first time she made excuses for him was not the last.

The first time she stayed silent, she had her knuckles in between her teeth, her head throbbing the way her cheeks were. He had too much to drink, she said. He didn’t mean it. He loves me. He said so. But in between the I love you was too much synonyms for stupid. Telling her she never gets anything right, will never get anything right. And like all lies, when repeated enough, starts sounding like truths.

She also learned the hard way that the worst monsters are not the ones in storybooks; but rather, the ones brave enough to look at you straight in the eye, share your bed, kiss your lips and tell you they love you. As if the passion can make the pain go away. As if the words change the fact that you’re a wreck of black and blue. It doesn’t. What helps is fighting back;

So woman, learn to fight back. Learn early that venom takes on more than one form, that words hurt just as much as fists does, sometimes even more. But in turn, learn as well that in your vein rests bravery, be not afraid to bleed for your freedom. Your hands are not made of glass even if he is trying to break you. You are of skin and hardwood, be sturdy enough to defend yourself. Woman, fight back. Know that he’s only as powerful as you let him be, and that you are more powerful if you just let yourself see. Woman, fight back. Know his words shouldn’t hold weight enough to bring you down, never make him your world when you’re just another name he won’t remember. Woman, fight back. Make him learn why you will be the one he won’t be able to forget. Turn the tables around, make the ground shake. Woman, fight back. If you ever feel like you can’t breathe anymore when there isn’t even hands around your throat, leave before they even start to approach. Woman, fight back. Make him learn what happens when he ignores the word ‘no’. That you’re capable of making hell manifest from within your eyes if you stare at him long enough. So stare at him long enough. Make him sweat. Make him squirm. Make him regret ever laying a finger on you. Use your claws, leave marks on his flesh. Spin him with your own web, show him real power. Show him what strength really is. Show him ‘woman’. Make him tremble in your presence instead, see how he likes it. Scare him, show him the monster he created in you, make him beg for forgiveness. Give it to him. Astound him with your ability to forgive and be reborn. You are endless, you are alive. Understand that he’s an empty shell of a person, more breakable than you ever were, incapable of kindness. Show him kindness. Leave him. And never apologize for breaking free. Be free. Live again. Love again. Be alive again. And from now on, woman, fight back.

(more from M Manese HERE)


When I tell people that I don’t have a father, they immediately think he’s dead. The truth isn’t quite so melodramatic. Put simply, he quit.

The last few years have been fraught with difficulties for the family. We each had our own personal demons to conquer of the frightening, soul-sucking kind. The only way I was able to hold on was by thinking that I just had to keep trying and one day, trying to live won’t be so painful. As a family, we all had to keep trying for each other.

So I kept trying even when it wasn’t easy…even when all I wanted to do was to give up. I tried the best way I could even though I made some downright awful decisions. Somehow, I kept myself alive and trying. Finally, somewhere between utter despair and willingness to live, I found hope that someday the trying could give way to thriving, succeeding. Suddenly the trying didn’t seem so pointless after all.

Then one day, my father just stopped trying. He just didn’t show up.

For awhile I was left off-balance like when you swear you can still feel the ocean long after you’ve returned to the shore. For awhile, I wondered what it was I did to make him quit on me. For awhile, I was lost.

So I did the only thing I knew to do: I tried.

I tried to think about what it was that made me keep trying. I tried to remember what it felt like to want to stop trying. I tried to ask myself if I wanted to give up trying.

Then I got around to thinking about all the things I’ve been through, all the darkness I’ve somehow pushed back and overcome. It is then I realize that I am worth trying…no…FIGHTING for. And if anyone doesn’t see that, they just aren’t worth my time.

I may not have a father but I am still loved. I may be on my own but I am not alone. I may forget it sometimes but I am glad to be able to say that I’m still here, trying.


On Audiobooks and Silly Habits

I haven’t had the opportunity to properly read lately. Between jobs and sleep and chores (and lately, illness), I haven’t had the time to completely lose myself in the pages of a good book. For months now my books have lain neglected at the head of my bed. Some afternoons I’d stare at them listlessly, trying to decide what I felt like reading that day. More often than not, I’d end up not reading at all. After years of devouring any book I could get my hands on, I’ve finally hit my wall. Hard. And let me tell you now that losing your reading stride does not bode well for your writing.

Flappers and Philosophers

To get myself into books again, I tried reading out loud. I used to do that in school when I was having difficulty absorbing the material. I started small, with short story collections. I picked up Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald and read it out loud. It was, as before, a very effective tactic for me and I was soon reading more and more books out loud. The exercise worked a little too well though because that, my friends, is how I developed this new and annoying habit of only being able to read out loud.


The new development was a nightmare for me as I read anywhere – on the road, at my desk, while eating – as long as I can stay still for a significant amount of time. Not everyone appreciates being read to out loud by a stranger and not everyone agrees with my taste in books (imagine the uproar when I began reading The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler). In an effort to curb this new compulsion of mine, I tried speaking softly, essentially mumbling the story under my breath. It seems that the general public also frown on people muttering to themselves, with or without a book to read out of.

And then from the bowels of the mighty Internet came the solution to my problem: audio books!

My salvation was at hand! Freedom from the curse of out loud reading! Until I discovered that I didn’t enjoy simply being read to. I had to be able to see and read the words myself as well. Therefore, I can only get audio books for books already in the library otherwise they’d be completely useless.

Happily, the ever helpful and reliable Internet has much to offer in the area of audio books. I was pleasantly surprised to find many titles having audio books. Some of the more popular ones even allowed you to choose between different narrators (Jim Dale or Stephen Fry to read Harry Potter?). My electronic library grows slowly but surely and I am learning to differentiate between good and bad narrators.

It has taken awhile but I am starting to outgrow reading out loud whenever I’m in public. In the privacy of my own room, however, I read whichever way I feel like, silently or loudly. I’m slowly getting my reading stride back and I made a new and wonderful discovery in audio books. Who wouldn’t get engrossed in the story being read to you by Basil Rathbone (whom I love), Neil Gaiman, Jeremy Irons, or even “The Voice” himself Mr. Alan Rickman?

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