Evidence-based [Elizabeth Paxson]

They decreed certain words to be an entitlement,
so she needed to know if anything
evidenced-based could be erased
if science-based facts could be pretended
down a rabbit hole where a bonfire
fed by idiots always burns
but leaves no smoke, no ash, no trace.

There’s always evidence, she said
but if you call a fetus “person”
why can’t it jump out of the body
of a woman and demand to vote,
march around the room in pin-sized uniform
instead it acts just like a parasite,
latches on and sometimes even kills the host.

It made her feel too vulnerable
as if a war on the poor was not enough
as if they knew how she felt
when the bills came due while
those rich guys flicked her off
like crumbs on their expensive suits;
one suit could pay her rent for months.

The world of privilege lacks diversity
of color, gender, social class
being gay, lesbian, transgender must be
kept hidden at all costs by old white men
though pedophilia is ok with them,
pussy-grabbing has not, as yet been banned–
but these men lack imagination.

Why not add a few more words
to what we cannot say–things like
misogyny, rape and climate change
they all go hand in hand with
what some men do to women and
the land they love to hate
these strutting, anencephalic little kings.

Let’s not forget vagina before we’re done
scarier than Jaws to Mr. Freud
make mine al dente and dentate,
add phallocentric, patriarchal
DNA, evolution, CO2 and air pollution
there’s no end once you get started
to all the words that must be shunned,

you know, the semi-automatic ones that just
get blurted out in honest conversation, but the evidence
is clear: this rabbit hole is far too deep, my dear.


Elizabeth Paxson is a writer/poet and visual artist. Thanks to an aunt who persisted in reading to her and correcting her grammar, she started following words around when she was small. They subsequently followed her, sometimes keeping her awake at night. She has had a love affair with them ever since. She recently had work accepted for the Poet’s Night Out series (Traverse Area District Library); her collection Always Birds is forthcoming from Redbird Chapbooks.

Inspiration: My dear, now departed aunt would have been livid at the mere mention of banned words or banned books. I got my revolutionary tendencies from her. She taught me that reading and education meant access to anything and everything, and especially forbidden material, because there is always a political agenda behind the banning of literature, and that is never a good idea. It only encourages us.

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