Archive for Shetal Shah

“A Voice” By Shetal Shah


-By Shetal Shah
April 2004

I don’t want the war anymore.
The uphill climb…
The battle’s done,
Only half won
One more breath, one step…
I can’t continue the trek.

I crave silence.
To be unmoving, soundless, still.
My pipe dream for next year
Right now Herstory tells me to persevere.
I’ve got to march forward and contest.
For to be still is not to progress.
To be silent is not to express

The heaving weaving burden
First placed upon my chest
By the distress
Of less.
By the truths powerful men
Dare not confess
Not even to their mothers.

Sisters, Aunts, Daughters
Tallying beneath the 51% status quo we know to be accurate – the census said so.
This power in numbers should have been ours to devour.
(After all) Isn’t democracy’s choice determined by the majority voice?
Yet, the stench of strength from mere muscle power bullied Alice Paul
In an attempt to make her cower.
Instead, she found Inez and gave her wings to fly – zigzags and loopholes
That threw mute girls back at the 49% few.
Mute girls with pin curls
On gallant white horses come to preserve their 2% spread.

2% skimmed milk
White women’s’ skimped silk spun by the black worm that toiled all day
All shades in fabrics made every which way
Passed out on the couch
Or cot or settee
Ready in spite of race, caste or creed
For tomorrow.

They were quiet.
This quieted riot.
Non-violent and spun twice around for Wilson to pin the tail yea or nay.
Their civil disobedience
Turned more intense
By threatened egos
whose N-O’s surmised their cries as pointless.

Prison guards
In charge of bars
Irreverent to the weight stigmatic stripes
Tacked on their backs…
Hee hee said She –
For with cheek, jaw and soul breaking came revelation of being, irreversible seeing,
Each blow only more so the needing to give purpose to unbearable lightness, the conclusion an end to naive delusion.

Windowless and inside cold steel lines
Unified women took only one side
Drew new lives reinvented
spread through horizontal vents’ drifting sniffed scents
to outside park bench’s newfound wenches wrenching with twisted ills,
their noses posing as hallways and corridors for freedom fought odors to travel through
to spike the spirit inside their minds and grow IDEAS – oh my – seeds that could look to the heavens and seek the sun.
These lasses the locked up masses linked and fed
Through subliminal instincts they led.

Fertilizing more,
These Iron-Jawed Angels, all
Took their place at Wilson’s door
Picketed and paraded in Bonnets and Banners.
Banners with words that slapped the President’s cheeks with his own tongue.

A tongue that flung far-reaching saliva trails
to prevent Our Nation’s asphyxiation.
How could he?
What hypocrisy.
Dares he to dictate democracy overseas
When 50 states sired 51% shes
That can’t speak?

Finally, on account of one iron-clamped jaw, force-fed eggs raw
through plastic tubes that rudely bruised,
Newspapers adjusted their alien ears to twist human into woman.
Exposés bashed bad prison decorum and smeared the good President’s fame.

The star in his own puppet show,
On stage feigning interest in female lives
He turned his face to its good side for the camera eyes admiring
his newborn need to satisfy women’s rights to breathe.
Mere public cries that served to satisfy classified survival desires
While in private attire his unseen cheek refused to heal.

If I believe that angels don’t lie, then where are the versions revised for future minds?
Who will fix history’s story line?
My cry? Stop young feet from passing past the past’s crickety creak,
Scrape blind haste from its underbelly and unclog soggy leaks drenched in blind faith.

Yet, even as I deny untruths made by one side
I grudgingly avow each version valid through its own eyes,
and discover that My faith is blind.
Back to present day,
When the delusional man on the train points me to his carefully created statement
Plastic cup taped empty off to the side
At a time when one more push thrusted into my pregnant mind –
Actively contracting over the happiness of this lonely society –
Will birth agitated and rolling eyed,
My pleading outcry
For one long sigh
For one long silent ride
Away from this one and that one and this bum and that bum’s decree
To denounce the mayor’s power after he
Caused the father to deflower –
The mother? (What??)

Even in my most impatient state,
I must not erase, must, in blind faith, celebrate,
His rightful perpetuation of our salvation to

Poem originally commissioned by Poetic People Power.

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