Badges of armor

CONTENT WARNING: The following poem contains language in reference to sexual assault. It was originally written and performed for the Womxn's March 2021. The theme of the March this year was "survivors" and SO many womxn contributed to it being an amazing, inspiring event.

I didn't ask for it. I didn't deserve it.
But I survived it.

I didn't dodge a bullet.
I was raped.
And when it was over, I thought, "This will NEVER happen again."

It happened again.

I didn't dodge a bullet.

The second time, it was a man who said he loved me
And even though the fighter in me kicked and screamed
The rest of me got lost. I floated in a huge, numbing ocean.

I moved far away,
to a place where no one knew me
No one could pronounce my name
No one could touch the real me
I hid in plain sight

For years, it felt like my body wasn't mine.
I numbly walked through life
Bumping into things.

I didn't dodge a bullet.

I eventually came back to this country that spoke my mother tongue
And being back with everything that should have felt familiar
I instead felt more lost than ever

I was a zombie
Or maybe a puppet with her strings cut
Shuffling through the motions of living a ‘life’

I gave myself to an abusive man who wanted to be a puppet master
And even though I knew it was a mistake
I couldn't bring myself to care
I couldn't see that I deserved anything better

I didn't dodge a bullet.

But there was still a tiny part of me
that was fighting, yelling, screaming
She finally got my attention

I nurtured that part of me. I listened. I. WOKE. UP.

I didn't dodge a bullet, but I performed surgery on myself.
Painful, years-long surgery.
I dug out the bullet. I dug out another. I dug them ALL out.

And the scars those bullets left me with
Are badges of honor.
They are proof that I SURVIVED.


In the last few years, I have also survived a brain tumor,
and the three surgeries it took to save my life—
first a transsphenoidal resection, then a craniotomy,
then the placement of a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt…
And through it all, I knew I could make it through. This was nothing.
Nothing compared to digging out those bullets.

I learned what it took to survive.
And I didn’t just survive; I found a way to thrive.

I now have a spouse who is a true partner,
and the fighter inside me is learning to be at peace.
I still sometimes find myself sinking with the weight of my past,
but I know I can keep my head above water.
I know I can swim.

I didn't dodge a bullet. I can't magically repel them,
and I can't keep from getting shot.
But I know, now, that I can survive.
I don’t need to be bulletproof; I can survive bullets.

I transformed my trauma from a place of powerlessness
to one of empowerment.
And did I say my scars were badges of honor?
They're more than that.

They're badges of armor.

— by Sara Quinn


I know I can’t make things right. Where even do I begin? A voice lost… echoing in the vast valley of humanity.
Can I be the trigger? To start a collapse? A reverberation that causes the cascade… as a waterfall, a landslide, an avalanche.
Oh if only it were to be. But if that never comes, it’s enough to have tried. To speak my truth against all those who don’t understand. Who can’t comprehend. Willfully blind.
What will my legacy be? What mark will I leave? I am the culmination for my ancestors' trials. What hardships did they face? Were they only ever meant to lead me here? To now?
To use my strength, my compassion, to assist others?
That is enough for me, then. What will be enough for you?

— by Jaime Knight

By jesse clyde. a gentle breeze through chilly leaves

Elephant / A. Barrera.

Elephant On Feet♡
Have strength, be strong, believe in yourself, and let the angels guide you along the way. Although you may feel the weight, carry on, like an elephant on feet.

It's in  us all, 'strong, mighty, and fierce'. No Room for defeat!

Let the buzzing of the bees be the magic music that moves you, giving you  direction, and the force that keeps you moving and grooving while keeping your feet dancing along the way.

And the smell of the rose—let the beauty remind us of what happens when a seed has been planted.

And if there will be tears, let them flow like rain that helps things grow, as will you...

Allow the journey to bring you to the light, just like the glow of our golden sunshine rising up and like the elephant on feet♡

— by A. Barrera

Luna / Jess Loflin
Flowering Bush / Jess Loflin
Hillside / Jess Loflin

If god isn’t dead, then what’s the point in buying pizza

You could have said that
All you wanted from me
Was a single night, sleepless
Spent between my thighs
Wrapped up in my arms
I would have given you that
Gladly, if you were honest

Why bother complimenting me
On my dreams? Why bother asking
What happiness means to me
If all you wanted was this
Saccharine embrace, my lips
Were made for nothing more

I would have straddled you
And helped you escape
Because I know the value
Of forgetfulness, the beauty
In new faces with no names
Attached, no distasteful past

To sully the beauty of fucking
Without feelings, I would have
Been a beautiful ledge, hanging
Above a deep abyss, purpose built
For you to walk off of, exclaiming
To the world, “She meant nothing”

— by Mr. Vapid Ad

Happy New Year

Head over heels?
No, that’s surely not me
Little did I know, soon it would be.
Feeling free, I twirled
Careless of my critics’ opinions
Suddenly we’re swaying
Dizzying and exhilarating
I can feel my heart begin to race
My head spinning
The countdown’s begun
It’s midnight
There’s an explosion of commotion
Everyone’s rushing into the arms of their lover
Left and right they’re fleeing
I’m left stranded
But not for too long —
For my sight’s set on you
All that’s on my mind, All I care about
Is you
And I want you to know
So I kiss you

— by Lilya Bobov

Family Circus cartoon by Adam Whittier. Adam Whittier is a cartoonist based in Richland /, Instagram: whittier_comix