Be open. Always be open. You were meant to spread, elastic.
Take up extra subway seat.
Fill all the space you can.
You are all muscle and tissue and blood and blood.
Bleeding is how we know we’re alive.
Do not quiet your bass drum beat.
Do not apologize for your existence.
Know how many generations of you have endured
so that you may be here — been cleaned up,
tucked away, tongue cut out, head pushed down,
body made thing, body made someone else’s,
body made broken, body made nothing, you made nothing.
Let your love be poetry embodied, let love speak for you.
Speak loud. Scream if you have to.
Be meat stuck between teeth.
Be stain unbleachable.
Be alarm clock, ringing.
You are not placeholder.
You are not glue that holds everyone together.
You are not grin and bear it girl.
You do not give pleasure, you are pleasure,
do not give life, you are life.
Stay hungry, appetite ferocious,
pulse be wanting, always be wanting,
eat yourself sick and spilling over,
bleed through your favorite jeans
to show the world how uncontainable your giving is.
Let your need be terrifying.
Go deeper, go darker, surprise yourself, that you are still here.
Let them smell you, raw and sour.
Let them see you all out in the open in the street,
the classroom, the supermarket, at church.
Let them taste you, can’t get you out of their mouths,
wet, foreign, taste good.
Let them fear you.
How muscle grows stronger through struggle.
Come back bigger.
Come back harder.
Marissa Johnson is a world-traveling, Beyonce-worshipping, wine-loving, gay woman living in Brooklyn, New York. She recently took a Buzzfeed quiz to determine her style based on her favorite color and horoscope and it told her she is
a “Salty Grandma” and that was probably the most accurate thing that’s ever been
said about her. She is a poet, researcher, and activist on issues including mass incarceration, violence against women, and LGBTQ rights. Her work has been
published in Bustle Magazine, One Billion Rising, and The Voices Project. You can read more of her work at http://marissalayne.wordpress.com/