Canary

Canary’s Song 

“Coal mining is the most dangerous work in our land today 
With plenty of dirty slaving work, and very little pay. 
Coal miner, won’t you wake up, and open your eyes and see 
What the dirty capitalist system is doing to you and me.” 

Sarah Ogan Gunning

Back in many a day gone by, with shovels and picks in hand

The men went down into the dark below to mine for coal all day.

They knew the risk was high and there was very little reward.

But a dollar was a dollar and they needed some way to feed and clothe their babes.

As they descended down deep into the earth

They brought with them a pet to safeguard their work

The yellow canary, a sentinel creature singing merrily along

Unknowing of the danger to which she might befall.

When the canary sings the air is safe

These sensitive little birds know better than we

When the air grows toxic and death stands at the door.

So you’d do well to listen for when they sing no more.

I am a canary did you hear my song?

I sang to you with an open heart

Eyes wide at a world so fresh and new.

My lungs full and my voice strong.

Then you took me into the darkness

And bade me still to sing.

I told you that each note burned inside my throat

You told me I was too sensitive, that the air was clear and good

Even now as the smoke and dust fill my lungs you still say that all is well

The culture is concerned with only that which is “on fleek”.

Fear and suspicion lurk around every bend

Power, privilege, piety, and prejudice surround on all sides, the gods we now praise.

I can no longer sing (cough), I can hardly speak (cough)

We are, all of us dying. Even if you can’t see it, it is no less real.

Hope lives on the next horizon, if only you listen to hear our truth.

Open your eyes, though they bleed. For they can be washed and healed.

Just like the canary whose song was silenced, a sacrifice for the lives of men

There will come those into your life who challenge what you know to be true

Have courage and be kind, knowing that they mean you no harm.

In fact, they may be dying to give you a chance to live.

Racism, bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, islamophobia, and every other inequality

Strangles the future, puts our children in bonds too heavy for the soul to bear.

Mother Earth cries out in pain, her tears are hurricanes and her heart is a famine where once there was a lush green paradise.

Listen to the sensitive ones, they warn of the danger you cannot yet feel.

Open your hearts and lay down your arms

Take a seat around the table, share your stories and fill up your cup

Live to fight another day, but do it side by side

Know the enemy is fear and ignorance, not your common man.

I am a canary; can you hear my song?

 

My my newest poem. Hope you like it and that it speaks to you.

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Modesty, Body, Sexuality

  The first time I gave someone a blowjob, while I do remember feeling pressured into it, mostly what I remember is calling one of my friends after sobbing because I felt so guilty for even being sexual at all and that was at 21.  From the time I was very young modest attire and sexual abstinence was held up as the highest of virtues for a woman. I was someone who by the age of eleven was already beginning to curve into the shape of a woman and I observed the boys beginning to notice this change despite how I dressed. Then it would seem that the grownups around me noticed also… I started receiving books about “purity” in my church mailbox, when to my knowledge none of my friends did. Was there something about me that screamed “future slut”?

  Needless to say, that along with the fact that my body also didn’t seem to be able to fit into the ideas of secular world where the woman I saw being glorified were a size zero, tan, with perfectly pouty lips, sex kitten eyes, the perfect ratio of butt/waist/breasts, and had legs that felt like they were longer than I was tall, made it incredibly hard to find comfort in my own skin.

I have been inspired this year to confront and work to defeat this negative body image and stigma in regards to sexuality. This is my time to embrace my skin and the reality that I am a sexual being, and that is not something to be ashamed of. Nor am I responsible for how anyone else looks at my body. Part of this journey was letting go of all of the negative things I was taught about sexuality and allowing myself to find out what it means just for me. While another part was taking off my clothes and allowing someone to photograph me and not judging myself so critically about the supposed imperfections. The biggest part was the epiphany that is revealed in the below poem, which I read at Kafé Kerouac at their open mic Writer’s Block poetry night last night. I was so nervous I was shaking like a leaf, but these people made me feel so comfortable and welcome. So grateful I was brave enough and bold enough to take the mic and share the space with these wonderfully creative people.

My Body, The Temple

 

You told me that my body was holy, a temple for the divine.

But don’t you dare decorate those walls, tattoos are sinful.

And jewelry or makeup, well is a distraction from what I was intended to be.

I guess god’s not a fan of art, and he doesn’t want any embellishments on his “masterpiece”.

 

But then you told me that body was a gift for my husband. 

Some mythical man, who was going to save me from spinsterhood.

To give my life it’s only possible purpose by becoming a wife and mother.

And the greatest gift I could possibly give him on our wedding night was an intact hymen.

 

You made my body a conversation piece from the time it began to curve into the body of a woman. 

You told me to hide it away, that uncovered it was something to be ashamed of.

You told me my body was a distraction, that the boys couldn’t help but to look and to lust.

And yet, I was the one that was too irrational? And yet, I’m the one unfit to lead?

 

But you never said it was mine, you never told me what it was capable of.

Or what this world would constantly subject it to.

You never said I would have to fight every day for my right to take up space in this world.

You never even said I had the right to take up take up space in this world

 

As I grew older I discovered your lies, the universe revealed it’s truth to me as it does

That, I am a “universe, wrapped in skin”, capable of birthing a soul into this realm

From the blood of a woman, all men have been baptized. 

There are parts of my body, created only for pleasure. What man can say that?

 

I have taken my skin for granted, called my flesh a prison 

People have taken a piece, a part that was not theirs’s to have

It’s been battered and bruised, but still it survives 

My mind is my core and expression comes from my spirit, but I’ve neglected this body that should be my home.

 

I exist as a trinity, mind, spirit, and body

Every one of these facets of my being should be aligned

When they are, that is when I am at my best. 

So, I’m done being at war with my body

 

I’m done with the shame you have tried to heap on me, that I have heaped on me

Every scar, stretch mark, freckle, wrinkle or hair, it is all a testament to the road I have traveled

This body is a map of that journey, so whether I modify some part or let it do its thing, it’s worthy of love

It’s a flawed vessel but it got me here and I will no longer apologize or show disdain for any part of this flesh that contains my soul.

 

But when it’s all said and done… I guess you were right about one thing, this body is a temple, my temple.

And I am a mother fucking goddess.

And I will decorate these walls anyway I god damn please.

And I will share it whenever I want to, or notEither way the choice is mine alone.

 

So now, I have learned that must everyday bow down before and worship the god in me.

 

I present two of my favorite pictures from the shoot. I really have come to love my body more, and no, I’m not there perfectly, but I am much happier with who I am than I think I have ever been before.

shoot 1

shoot 2

Special Thanks: Tanis Clay thank you so much for the wonder makeup look and to Jean the photographer from All Things Boudoir for making me feel so comfortable and beautiful!  Also thanks to Connie Winch for showing up and helping me be brave at the reading and also recording it for me.

With love and hope,

Blessed Be

Ashleigh Miller