Jessica L. Folk

I See You

a slam poem


I see you, standing there, trying to tell me who I can love.
Like there’s some fucked up notion of what’s ‘right’ and what’s not.
As if your reality is any more right than mine.
That it’s some sort of game and I’ve got the wrong pieces.

I see you saying king, queen, king, queen, but there are no queens here.
I much prefer a ladies night, hands pressed, lips touch, a curve fits in a curve much better
than those angles, hard and unforgiving.

You say, queen loves king, king loves queen – why is it so?
And, God forbid, they’re something else entirely or something undefinable.
What is a pawn? I refuse to be yours.

I see you assuming that the king is less of a king. The queen less of a queen, just because
they love the same. Who said it takes this expected binary to rule a kingdom? Binaries are boring. My love is electric.

I see you saying I can’t love her. That it’s ‘unnatural’. That ‘same-ness’ is what makes it
wrong. That I can’t possibly go there. That it can never work. We can’t make babies
together so we’re not real. Never mind how I feel.

We’ll make beautiful babies if we want to.
It won’t be the usual, but then again, what is?
Or maybe we’ll help the world population problem and avoid the situation altogether.
Because, God forbid she or he grows up to love a her or a him.
Or become like you.

I see you finding a difference in our same-ness.
A slut I can’t have.

I see you calling us whatever you call us, whatever category you throw us in. We do our
best not to give a fuck. It’s not like we spend time wandering around shouting “Hey,
straight dude!” Hear: faggot. Sticks and stones can be thrown all direction.

I see you, not seeing me at all. You assume a lot. Whether I’m your gay best friend or an
object to be torn down. I see you, but you don’t see me. Not really. I vote we leave all the
sticks and stones on the ground where they came from. We can build our own houses, our
homes, our families, our love. And leave everybody the fuck alone.

I see you, ashamed, and I pick up those sticks, those stones, and I build myself a home. A
home that you’re invited to, if you just stop throwing them at me and see me, seeing you. 


Once Is Enough

a slam poem


They all say, “you don’t want to become a statistic”
Which is confusing because after everything I’ve been through
After everything I’ve heard
I’m pretty sure once is more than enough to convince me

No need for fancy charts and number crunching
No reason to sit me down in a lecture hall and read me the study’s findings
I know my body, I know my school, I know my home,
I know what’s safe

And yet, here we are, hearing of yet another school shooting
Another rape
Another child neglected, abused
Another police officer gone too far, ruining it for the rest of the force
Another terrorist attack at our front door
Another gay kid beaten into the dirt
Enough is enough.

Once is enough as he follows her down the street,
Just a few steps behind, a few steps too close
Her heart racing with the potential for what could happen
With the fear and adrenaline aching in her veins at the unknown threat
And then he walks by – and she realizes - the world taught her to fear

Once is enough for the boy in the hoodie
Who’s race is worn on his face like a badge he didn’t earn
Just trying to get from point A to point B without coming to blows
Or worse.
The world has certain expectations of him
Blackness, is his courage
White privilege upholds their fear
We all need to turn color blind

Once is enough as she pulls down the edges of her skirt
Wondering how many drinks she had and how she’s possibly going to
explain the whole thing to the cops – that’s IF she calls them
Because she can’t remember the whole incident anyway
All she knows is he definitely raped her –
but they’ll try to convince her he didn’t
She can’t possibly remember.
She feels betrayed by her own body
The places where he touched her, scoured by invisible acid
Screaming to be clean, to be fixed, to be whole again
And the papers say, she didn’t fight hard enough

Once is enough as he pops the magazine into the tail end of his handgun
His sights set on those who’ve somehow wronged him
As he bursts through the front doors into the elementary school hallway
Where his victims weren’t even thoughts in their parents’ minds
On that first day he was bullied

Once is enough as the child looks up, tears in his eyes
At his mother who’s just beaten him within an inch of his life
All because he left the cereal bowl out on the counter too long
And that was the last straw for her as she heals from her own broken soul

Once is enough for the person who can’t say the words
I’m gay, I like men, I like women, I like me
Fuck the labels, fuck the confusion
We don’t need another Matthew Shepard dead by a fence
because the world can’t handle our differences
Based on words written thousands of years ago
by men who thought they were gods

Once is enough as the people of the city sit at the café drinking their
Smoothies and espressos, just wanting a quiet evening of blissful conversation
As they come driving down the street with machine guns and bombs
Planted in the places they once enjoyed.
All at the bidding of an unknown enemy.

Once is enough as the mother buries her child
Taken all too soon by the father that everyone called crazy, 
but no one sought to treat
Her body burned and buried in the water
As if the memory of her smile could float away

Once is enough as he strangles her in the hallway of her childhood home
His name bursting through her lips in a strangled cry that will never be heard
As her mother and father work, as her sister sits in school
And he leaves her body, curled up in a field, never to move again
A community betrayed.

Once is enough.
Once is too much.
We are creatures of experience, habit, they say
When will we finally learn?
What will it take? ENOUGH. 

Jessica L. Folk is a professional writer of many genres. She received her M.F.A. in Screenwriting from Chapman University in Orange, CA and teaches fiction, screenwriting and media courses at various universities. She dreams of publishing Young Adult novels and having feature-length films produced in the future.