Simple poetry // to resist and to reveal // grim realities

Jun 16, 2021 | 2020 Spring - Being an Activist, Poetry

By Martine Mussies (Cyborg Mermaid)

For living on this planet, I pay “rent.” I contribute to the world with my music, my research, my arts and crafts, my love and friendship, and my writing. Although my name literally means “Little Warrior,” due to my autism I cannot join my friends on the barricades. Therefore, I raise my voice through my own—soft and quiet—forms of resistance, to empower the misfits. On my blog and for Bi Women Quarterly, I write academic essays, auti-ethnographies, and various forms of poetry, such as #biku.

Poetry is often essential as a form of protest and communication during times of crisis. Most poems of protest like Caged Bird by Maya Angelou and Making Peace by Denise Levertov play a crucial role in bringing to light the unknown or hidden grim realities, raising awareness, and shaping cohesive fronts (Staeheli and Mitchell, 2016).

My short poem, “Vampires of the Rainbow Plague,” was written as a protest against the Polish anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.  Originally in Polish, but translated into English especially for BWQ, this poem tells about the hatred around various Prides in Poland. (See both languages below.) People were waving with their holy books, wearing T-shirts with supposed imagery of Jesus Christ, using all kinds of profanity I think Jesus himself would be very much ashamed of.

The name refers to some often-quoted statements, by TV producer Maciej Pawlicki (“vampires”) and archbishop Marek Jędraszewski (“rainbow plague”), respectively. The pedals that anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators were twirling with are a similar insult, for in Polish, the word “pedał” simply means a bike pedal, but is used as a pejorative term for (mostly male) gays as well (similar to “faggot”). I admit that my Polish is still very, very basic. Yet, words symbolize worlds, and therefore, with short poems like this one, I hope to inspire and encourage other language-learning misfits to raise their voices as well. Writing simple and quiet poems in a language you barely know might seem inane, but somehow, for me, it is enough to get some of my thoughts from my mind into yours: love is love, LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and poetry is a powerful form of resistance.

Vampires of the Rainbow Plague

A violent tide washes o’er the streets
With Bibles of hatred in tow
Pedals they swing and hymns they sing,
To destroy what they don’t know

When ignorance takes root and phobia springs
And freedom is viewed as a sin
A march to be seen as a human being
Hails a war of love about to begin

Wampiry tęczowej plagi

Gwałtowny przypływ zmywa ulice
śpiewają hymny i pedałami się huśtają,
Wraz z Biblią nienawisci na cholu
Aby zniszczyć to, czego nie wiedzą

Kiedy wolność jest postrzegana jako grzech
A ignorancja się zakorzeni i strach zapuści
Marsz, który należy postrzegać jako istotę ludzką
Zwiastuje nadchodzącą wojnę miłości

Martine Mussies is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University, writing about the Cyborg Mermaid. Besides her research, Martine is a professional musician. Her other interests include autism, psychology, karate, iaido, King Alfred, and science fiction.

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