the words we say

Take care of yourself
mimicked blessing for
health, wellbeing, safety
dissolves as
nugatory sentiment when
one’s child is shot –
point blank range, sheer hatred,
disregarded and discarded
At Fifteen.

This too shall pass
glib assurance – maddening
normalizing platitude purporting
nothing lasts forever –
unless that something
preexisted in the form of
rape, domestic violence, sexual assault,
or unfortunate chromosomal configuration of
Being Female.

It’ll all work out if you stay positive
dissonant benediction
for single mother at 30
working 3 jobs, buying 3 sets of sneakers
reviewing 3 report cards, and attending
3 different sporting tournaments, then
collapsing into bed at night,
with gnawing, savage
Hunger Pangs.

NO – we can’t take care
of ourselves, if that means
when our demise
is systematically promoted
in high places.

NO – it will not pass,
more likely it will end in
horror, that slinking alley-cat
trailing disenfranchisement,
this malfeasance aimed
to silence, discredit, dominate
until we crumble, mute,
or rise, fists raised
towards high places.

NO – we will not fein positivity,
when simple surviving siphons
last vestiges of vitality,
viper-like from shrunken forms
who ask nothing more than
to taste the tantalizing morsels
of achievement, rewards for
toil, sweat, tears – alas, still
subservient to those conniving
from high places.


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. – Proverbs 25:11 English Standard Version

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2017
Photo Credit: Pinterest


6 thoughts on “the words we say

  1. Whoa!! Preach Sister!! This blog post is truth. When you’re constantly behind the eight ball, just trying to survive working long hours so you can pay rent you might want self-care and pampering but at what cost? How does a working class Woman achieve balance and harmony? Thanks for addressing this issue. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh DeBorah! You are so very right. How, indeed? It’s such a reminder that not all words suit every situation nor person’s experience. Thank you for offering your confirmation and encouragement. ❤️️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Precise nailing of another home truth this is, Julia. As nugatory as these sentiments may seem to be, those at unfortunate ends of life’s dispensation must develop the equanimity to treat it as mere social lubricants that are freely doled out to enable people to take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on their chins and move steadfastly on. Ultimately, the challenge is to live our lives within our fullest potential, regardless of odds being favourable or not. I am not sure if these words are golden apples on a silver platter. Nonetheless, it may lead, the one soldering on, to the pot of gold at the end of rainbow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Raj. As you are so very aware, the will to carry on when systemic hatred, injustice and brutality are leveled against one repeatedly is a near impossible feat. Each person “chooses” a response – true. Sometimes, however, it seems life becomes so excruciating that it seems nigh impossible not to be crushed. It’s then that I hope we can learn to use those golden words instead of look away, or worse still, speak from a place of ignorance or hatred. Thank you for contributing to the gold within humanity – in whatever shape.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is it because many people simply do not think? Do not really feel? Think they are superior? Are so out of touch with themselves? I have experienced these trite words coming mainly from those in the religious community. Why is there the expectation that life is supposed to be good, positive, wonderful, carefree, etc? (The fact that my life is basically all that is amazing – partly choice, partly good fortune concerning health and finances, partly a lot of past struggle to achieve that – but it is not a given – even I know that. And my good fortune also brings on other trite words, banal comments, probably envy?) At the very least, having this banality drive me crazy makes me really REALLY aware of what I say to others, and sometimes less is more!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Possbily a combination of all of those, Rose. Or being so convinced of one’s own, comfortable “truth” that no other realities can be considered. It is definitely a matter of first being open to becoming aware, then moving toward compassion. Only then can we hope to walk alongside – sometimes silently (the less is more point you made). Thank you for offering your perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

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