“Forgive Them Father” at Slam Theatre 2.0

Posted on March 4, 2012

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Katie CulliganSometimes artists just get lucky and tap into something artistically that is right on time socially and politically.  This upcoming weekend is the last showings of Slam Theatre 2.0 – The Miseducation, a collection of sketch comedy and poetry based on the titles of songs from Lauryn Hill’s classic album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  Produced by the New Galaxy Theater, written and directed by Malcolm Pelles and appearing at the Atlas Theater as part of the Intersections Festival, I am honored to contribute to poems to his project.  When Malcolm gave me the task of writing something entitled “Forgive Them Father”, my mind raced trying to find the best way to bring that title to life.  The first, and best idea, that came to me was to speak in the voice of the independent and unapologetic women that surround me.  My sisters, business partners and poets who are constantly battling the outdated stereotypes about women.  The women who are now under attack by Rick Santorum and the Republican Cult of Fertility.  At the time I did not know that by March we would be openly debating the validity of birth control, but somehow we have found our way down the rabbit whole to 1959.  Please click the flyer below to get info on how to go see the play in it’s last weekend, where you can watch the extremely talented Katie Culligan recite the poem “Forgive Them Father”.  Click “more” to read the poem and please forward it to people who are tired of women being spoken for by men.

Forgive them father

Our fathers
the ones who have defined heaven for so long
filled with dainty soprano angels
and promises to their sons of submissive virgins
do not recognize me now

I don’t pull my skirt over my knees
as i kneel before you
or walk with you down aisles
as i am re-gifted
to some man
you see yourself in

you must excuse me
you have no choice
i no longer seek your favor
there will be no asking for pardon
or request for deferment of your judgment
no meek hands held medium height
hoping to get a word in edgewise
no distractions with trinkets and bobbles
you won’t lose me in the enchanted forest
of charming princes
spoon fed to me at night
in my pink princess pajamas
and my pumpkin carriage bed

this is not a prayer
this is an ultimatum
addressed to the coat of armor
you call your manhood
whether addressed as dad
or daddy
or pops
or father
or matriarchal society
or paternalistic government
or gender bending god
or for me, better penned to
“whom it may concern”

this was written by hand
in my bedroom
that still stinks so sweet
from the last man
shifting his hips
and biting my lips
under sheets i bought myself
laid over a queen bed
that would make Elizabeth proud
his cologne is an unpleasant tickle in my nose
and his drunken philosophies
do little to impress a sober mind
but my limbs swallowed him whole
and my skin inhaled his vapor
and i let him
no made him
leave in the wee hours of the morning
with my essence on his breath
and with my own peace of mind
in the history of my life
he doesn’t count on my fingers
maybe not even my toes

this manifesto was a brain storm
brewed in a mind with a vapid vocabulary
paid for by long nights in libraries
after long days in lectures
with a keen understanding
of cooking and sewing
but a bank account built with mental acumen
enough to pay someone else to do it

my thesis, like me
was born into a post free love
pre-female president world
where forces fight
to shove my womb
and all it’s unpleasantness
of blood
and cum
and life
back into the literal euphemisms
and the dark allies
where freedom is aborted

I am neither the pin-up
or the shoulder pads
or the apron

i am me

a physical creature
yet celestial being
for to long my effortless flow
has been mistaken for weakness
like water
in all it’s forms
falling
crashing
rushing
freezing
sitting in quiet solitude
you’ve never reconized
that water has shaped this world
more than steel ever has
and water is what i am
in the way my womb responds to the moon
in the way my tears are salt water baths for hurting children

this monolgue you don’t recognize
is not only of my own doing
it is a world i was grandfathered
no grand-mothered into
happy and healthy
breast fed by strong willed women
not pasteurized
or hydrogenated
or hyphenated
not bothering to scour the milk cartons pictures
of lost children i never had
my voice,
even without your bass
or your bully pulpit
speaks the same truths
and my thoughts are not the after taste
of your male idioms preached as gospel

I think, write, and speak this
to let you know, i forgive you
and though it might be millenniums away from receiving it
i’ve already accepted your apology

by Bomani Armah