Written Words: Political Tools // Meredith A. Martyr

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Audre Lorde

To face the realities of our lives is not a reason for despair-despair is a tool of your enemies. Facing the realities of our lives gives us motivation for action. For you are not powerless ... You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation-survival.
Audre Lorde

As a feminist psychologist-in-training and a social justice advocate, recent and not-so-recent events in our sociopolitical climate are consistently on my mind. This election was not just about the first woman president or a political revolution, it acted as a mirror, reflecting back what so many knew to be and others still struggle to see. A common phrase I continue to turn to, particularly in times of social revolution and movement, is Audre Lorde’s sentiment on political warfare. In honor of Audre Lorde, my allies, and myself, I have decided to leave academic rhetoric behind for this post and rather share one of my tools on behalf of political warfare: Words.


There was something about the mass.
Upon entrance –
That static churn of air and limbs, petulant & pitched
The whole of us, the electricity was made and stowed
–  before the running of the bulls.

The standing, pausing, what would be. Hold.
Harness then hostility.
Then the streets rose up. Throat-closed off
As if breathing might turn pain into glass.
Somehow we had slipped away what we could live without.
You just wept.

We chose to have nothing – No air.
No face in our hands.
And finding the tremble in you, as you stood,
To walk away.

Snelling & Grand

I didn’t want to whimper on the wood.
In a space made still by hate

A space where we’d touch the opening
Of gates, the swelling of their throats.

I didn’t want the Times or the shelves
Of words meant to brace that silence,

Or to imagine the women coming or going
Convincingly towards that glass wall.

I didn’t want to sit silently
Even though that is what we do:

That we are right, holding on,
Making anyone, you

Rip apart the sheets & pull us
Down into our destructive, blind selves.

Third Party Witness

Mother Moon made sure
That night

That streetlights were on
            The apricots were ripe
                        And our bones would be tethered to the trees.

The mass made certain
–  with Mother Moon as witness –
That some lives would be changed
That some would persist

But the mournful mass did not see

            That some lives continue to matter not.

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