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Calico

Street slum with muddy eyes and a lisp
black and blue with bruises
filthy with the Devil’s vitiligo 

You see it in Father’s scrunched face 
he looks at you like you’re diseased 

Your touch insignificant as a mosquito bite
they slap your hand away without a sparing glance

Don’t you know, calico
only girls are allowed to look like that

Immigrant in your home country
curled up in a mole hill
creeps through the window of a married man

Traitor bedded with the role model of masculinity
who spends every spare second spinning silks
to match the budding Yellow Trumpet
he tucked behind your pierced ear 

Calico boy, calico man, 
pussy cat, they’re screaming faggot
arm in arm with torties masquerading as tom cats 

5’2 and skinny, act so tough
roughed up by the working man’s hands
dragged out back like cattle 

You make poor Mother so sad
she is embarrassed by your barren womb

You stifled your screams alone
they hurried the sight of your afterbirth inside

Get it through your head, tom cat
women must serve their men like deities 

Warrior with no weapon
tigress hiding in high grass
stops to sniff out a dear perfume

Prince rushing in to save the princess
her lover a woman and everything she lacks
finds solace in a hut barely able to house two
sharing dreams of a family they will never have 

Tom girl, tom cat
pseudo , be reminded of your place
as they knock you down to your knees 

Stray cats making the most out of scraps
yowl unabashed on fence tops
spots and stripes blending into the night

Outrun the morning light
fast as their legs can carry them
before roosters cock and storm the streets

String your bodies up like festival lights
rise you up to a heaven unwelcome to you
candles lit with the gnawing heartache
of secret lovers unable to mourn you

Don’t you know how dangerous it is
for tom cats and calicos to hope
for a kinder world with room enough to fit you

Bad men will shave off your ear tips 
rob you of your claws and teeth
plunder your body for meat and sex

Street slum gather in the hornet’s nest
fingers raw from sowing safety nets
a pride of big cats lone in the wilderness

Do you hear them coming to tie you up
drag you off in big cages and roaring trucks
leave you neutered with a bleeding hole

Women and girls, men and boys
part the tidal waves of their tears together
burn the way with flint stoking in their eyes

Tom cats and calicos engaged in civil war
so tired of fighting with nowhere to flee
carve a path not dedicated to the children they cannot have
but the children they once were long ago 

Copyright © Aleta O'Driscoll | Year Posted 2022


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