Change The Rules Poetry Slam + Featured Poet–Popeye Gwinn

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things I want to do! I did, however, make time to go see the poets and readers at the Change the Rules Poetry Slam sponsored and organized by the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.

change the rulesAnna Murdoc’s Cafe sits on the corner of William and Market, blending some of the best brewed coffee in town… and the eats are unbelievable.  The special last Wednesday night (April 17th) was Indian Tacos and the smell made me want to eat my tongue.  The crowd gathered slowly–I was a little worried at first.  Two suits sat near me and their loan masculinity made me feel awkward for them.  But it was wasted sentiment.  By the time the show got started, it was standing room only, and I gave up my stool so someone could at least have a counter to drip their Indian taco over.

I wish I could share with you more of the poems from the evening–many were from the selected works of Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues and creator of V-day –the global movement to end violence against women.

But for me, one poem really stood out, in both its delivery and in its breathtaking honestly.  No one was more surprised than me to find that the poem that would emotionally move me the most was written from the male perspective, especially as that night was really about Female Empowerment.

I am grateful that Joshua “Popeye” Gwinn decided to let me share his work here:


By Popeye

Her touch is electric fire
fueled by my desire
like walking on high wires with no net
i’ve already fallen,
on that u can bet.
Her smile is that of angel’s child
born from pure innocence with the known tendency to get  a wild and out of control
she warms my soul
how i had bright days without that heaven.
i’ll never know
We’ve been together for a while
and i know this women inside and out..mostly.
for there is another closer than me
but he wasnt suppose to be,
or then again maybe he was
because at the end of the day i am not the judge
nor the jury
just the one who must watch the daily execution of her beauty in a fury
and truly i cannot confirm nor deny that
sometimes I am the reason she cries
but sometimes i know ive done no wrong,
sometimes i know im just the newest music video to an age old song
she holds onto
if only because the track marks her heart
and in her memory is where i wish it wouldnt start
but as soon as the song kicks on she escapes from my arms
where she truly belongs
and runs back into her childhood where things didnt turn out so well.
she got good grades and stayed out of jail
because her home was its own sweet little hell
a mental prison but the sentence was physical torture
like putting a chalk outline where there once was a beautiful sculpture
and the fact is
there is nothing i can say or do
but sit there with tears in my eyes watching her mind
once again break into two
different pieces of her former self
one of love and one of fear
and its the love she puts on the shelf where it collects dust
because she has one of the most tragically warped senses of trust
and while my tears fall with the same velocity as hers
she sees it as absurd
Making me both a victim and the accused
because it breaks me to see her hurt but by another mans touch she was abused
so i am just as guilty as he was and as innocent a she was
and because
of that i must forever fight off her nightmares and her demons
her fear of kissing due to the taste of his semen
this rerun
is more of an eternal curse
and the waking up in the nights screaming
those parts are the worst
trying to get her mind to sleep
knowing that in both her waking days or dreaming night his memory can creep
Knowing that she carries a weight of shame and blame and guilt
and because of that more tears than blood have been spilt.
her self esteem has turned to grieving as she alone mourns the death of her courage
as she has put all pleasant memories of her childhood away in her sub conscience storage
her innocence has come at quite a cost
but all is not lost
and it can’t be
because at the end of the run down memory lanes main street
she every so bravely
reaches out for me as if it is HER who must save ME
and in that moment i can see
that very briefly
she has a light at the end of the tunnel
even if its me shining a flashlight at her beautiful eyes through a funnel
i will save her because she saved me
he had made me the villain but she sees me as a hero
and it is my blessed duty from this point on to make the times she is unloved or alone
add up to and forever be zero!
from her side i will never waver
you see the final tally is our favor
because of the memories of her father she has compiled.
i may never be one
she was never allowed to be a child
so I may never have one
so she will always have one
when i count the things in this world i cant live without
i will always have one
when her memory tells her theres no way out.
she will always have one!!
i share his gender so i carry his blame
victim or accuser
by proxy its all the same
but when the nightmare cease.
when the screaming in the night ends
when she starts putting back the pieces
and lets her heart truly mend
that is when the picture will start to become clear
that there will always be something for her nightmares and demons to fear
that thing that stands beside her.
that thing that stands right here
her darkest of days may not be behind her
and in contrast make her bright ones seem bleak
but one thing that has been undone is she will again be alone or seen as weak
because shes stronger than she knows
she stronger than she was
and even if she doesnt see it
i will forever be
the one that does!