New poetry by Linda M. Crate

the choice is yours
you want submissive wallflowers
seen but never heard,
but i’m not your arm candy;

i am a woman with a mind,
heart, and soul—

respect my magic or fall prey
to every monster of me
because i will surrender my power
to none,

and you are a jester without a court;

don’t think you’re welcome in my kingdom
should you find women lesser than
i cannot stand people who think they’re above me

or they’re better than me because i’m a woman—

i was given these words,
and this riot in my soul;
i can warm your house or burn it down
the choice is yours.
-linda m. crate

accept me as my dream
i have always been a wild woman
they told me as a child i should be more tame

i only grew more silent as my ferocity grew,
and i could bite my tongue so they never knew
just how sharp a sword it was;

they thought they could disrespect me and get
respect in return but it never happened that way—

all i ever wanted was to be appreciated for
who i was,
but they wanted to point out all my flaws
as if they didn’t have their own;

so i painted every sunset of my rage with their ruins—

because if you cannot accept me as dream
then all you will ever get of me is nightmares.

so i would never fail
i was taught
to be submissive,

but i was never
good at
listening;

always questioned everything—

the weight of the world
is sometimes too much,
and i have to remind myself
i am not atlas;
cannot carry it all by myself

still sometimes
i find myself trying—

every time i struggled and asked
for help i was told that i was smart
or that i would figure it out or that i was
strong,

and while all of these things are true;
i didn’t ask for help unless i needed it—

i have cried myself to sleep so many
times
wondering why i wasn’t good enough

i realize now that i always was,
but some people won’t appreciate you
no matter how much you love them
so i decided to love myself so i would never
fail.

i love being a woman
they thought they were so clever
with their insults
telling me that i was someone
who was disgusting,

but it was just their reflection
they spoke of;

beautiful people don’t need to put
everyone else down in order to elevate
themselves

only bullies do—

because i am a woman i have always been
questioned in everything i do,
and people talk over and under and around me
to avoid the gravity of my life and experiences;

i have been told i have lied about things
people told me by random men on the internet—

i love being a woman, but i wish it wasn’t in a man’s world.

they’ll hold everything against you
when you’re a woman
they will hold everything
against you

too much make-up
not enough

too fat or too skinny

not pretty enough no matter
how gorgeous you truly are

poking and prodding
until they get a reaction,
and you’re always the monster
even when you’re innocent;

if you’re assaulted or raped
somehow that’s your fault
what were you wearing?
did you drink anything?
learn how to protect yourselves.

almost as if men don’t
have any responsibility
to their wives, their daughters,
and their friends.

Linda M. Crate’s poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has seven published chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press – June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon – January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), and the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), and two micro-chapbooks Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018) and moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). She also has three full-length poetry collections, the latest being Mythology of My Bones (Cyberwit, August 2020).

photo by Laura Chouette (unsplash)