Dear Patriarchy

Dear Patriarchy,

I was placed into your grasp as a little girl. I ate the crumbs from your gnarled and mangled hands. I watched you work the system and create a breed of subservient little female beings. You chewed us up and spit us out and told us our purpose was to simply be present to help You. You needed our fertility, open our legs for your pleasure and your cum. Carry your babies so you don’t fade away into oblivion. We sit here now foaming at the mouth ready to rip your fucking throats out, and you tell us to smile, keep quiet, be a lady. Meanwhile, you’re lusting for the blossoms in the church pew, with your pious and godly wife sitting right there beside you. But she doesn’t know how to be the Slut you need. The Sacred Whore within, she’s never unleashed. You did that to her. You, Patriarchy! You told her to be good, but with everything you are, you like em bad. So so bad. You told us to be honest, but you’ve got your secrets. You snicker, and you smile, and you keep things under the table. Your army, your squad, your “good ol boys”—- they uphold you as the Man among men, and while your wife may be fooled cause she’s a product of her raising, just know-your daughter won’t bow down to ANY SYSTEM that’s degrading, she’s not just the winds of change-she’s a fucking tornado. She is tearing this shit down and you don’t know what to do. You hang on to your faith cause it ALWAYS WORKS FOR YOU. Cling to your traditions, the empire built by men for men, but your daughter yells, “No!” She’s watched and she’s listened to every command made on her mother and her sisters, she’s thirsty for the blood of every person whose ever said, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” She is harsh and bold and she is ready to hurt your feelings. She yells, “Fuck you and fuck your religion! You pieces of shit-stealing the minds of the innocent, and they can’t even think critically enough to harbor resentment.” Your daughters are coming for you, Patriarchy, are you shaking in your work boots? We are coming for you, right after we untie your shoes.

Written by: Stacy Johnson

Paper Clip Castle, a poem

You left your coffee mug on the counter,  I saw your Adidas on the floor. I breathed heavy  down the hallway and saw your jacket hung on the closet door. 

I walked passed the recliner, it’s a newly empty seat, for 14 days it will not be the place you prop your feet.

I journey to our bedroom, then replay our moments in the quiet. Tears swell, I let them fall,  cause your side of the bed will be silent. 

I miss you for these moments, I wipe  the sadness from my tired eyes, I walk to our kids’ bedrooms and declare, “It’s an  Uno game kind of night!”

I pretend that I’m not broken, I pretend I’m strong enough, I act like I’m not waiting on my savior in his silver Ford Truck.

I do all the laundry, give the baths, then sweep the floors, I do ANYTHING to busy the thought that you’re not walking through that door.

I embrace your hoodie for a moment, take in the dirt and work and sweat. Hold it close before I wash it, so your scent I don’t forget.

I cheer on all our babies, I give kisses and hugs goodnight. I try to be everything to them, but as Dad, I’m just not right…

I play podcast after podcast, listen to lectures on repeat, I blast my mind with so much noise to distract from my reality. 

I praise you for your willingness to make a living such as this, I know you let your tears fall down, driving opposite of your waving kids.

But then it is your go time, down to strictly business, and in the meantime I hold down the fort with thumb tacks and paper clips…

(written by Stacy Johnson 3/6/19)

Momma whooped dat Uno booty tonight!

I Have Her Eyes

Scurrying into the always familiar home of Mamaw and Papaw, I am met with the same pale yellows and olive greens hip from the 60s. My Papaw rests in his recliner, Mitzy, his ever faithful pup companion perches at his side, knowing she is  his equal.

As my grandparents age, I realize, “How’s it going?” is a loaded question. One I better be ready to settle in for- for the long-haul, I welcome it.

He begins unveiling the  list of ailments appropriate for that of a 78 year old. I pay attention. I encourage him, letting him know I’m sympathetic to his pains and fears about his pains. Today, he lifts up his shirt for me to examine his back. 

“Do ya see anything back there, Stac?”

“Well, Papaw, I’m not sure what I’m looking for? I see a couple bumps.”

Papaw’s eyes grow large with concern, “Is there anything else around the bumps, Stac?”

“Um, I believe there’s a sunspot right between the bumps, Papaw.” 

“I’ll tell ya what, they itch, they really itch—-you sure those ain’t moles?”

I pull his shirt down and give his back a firm scratch, “Honestly, Papaw, they just look like a couple small pimples.”

He carries on sharing that he hopes it isn’t shingles or melanoma. Smiling at him, I express that if he feels the least bit worried, he may want a doctor to have a quick browse. He changes the topic to his gall bladder and I listen intently. 

My Papaw is a constant source of comfort to me and he always has been. The man is an amazing carpenter who worked and still works very hard. He told me once, that if he ever sits down long enough to get real still, he’d die, so his work must continue. I believe that if he needs to unveil his trials, I am fortunate to be the chosen listener. 

Mamaw walks in nonchalantly, “Did you know it’s been ten years since my last colonoscopy?” 

I act as if this is common knowledge and she fills us in on her trip to the doctor this afternoon. Mamaw is 76 today. I gift her our shared favorite candle, “Berrylicious,” and she literally jumps in giddiness!

“Oh, I just LOVE this scent, it is my absolute favorite.”

“Me tooooo, it’s THE BEST!” We hug and giggle- this particular scent, we thought had been discontinued. To our delight, they brought it back for a season!

Birthdays are special in our family and I can’t explain how grateful I am to hug her neck here in her home. 

She pulls out a photo album faded  by time,  worn from eager hands anxious to be taken back. We scan each of the pages together. She’s proud. I take in the humanity of my grandmother. I watch with each passing page, how her glorious green eyes remain the same. As we progress, the eyes looking at me  in person are the same as the girl, the young woman, the young wife, the sister, and mother. The sparkle is still there, the vibrancy still there. All that’s changed is the home around them. 


As Mamaw recalls each photo’s happenings, I as usual, am tangled in a mess of nostalgia. Her clothes, her hair, her red-lips, their cars. A part of me longs to be in the picture, seeing it as it was in the moment. Feeling the time, the culture. 

Although I know the story, I ask again, “So, how’d you guys meet?” 

They each take turns reminiscing on the mutual friend’s party where their paths first crossed. They went for a walk and Mamaw was not intrigued. A year later, another party, another walk around the block, and this time-it was love. I teased Mamaw that she must’ve been dreaming of Papaw’s handsome self that whole year! And boy, he loved that! 

They’ve lived in this home nearly fifty nine years, built it together the year they were married. This is a sacred space, and I feel praise arise in me, not to a higher power, but to the Story that lives in these walls. 

I hug them tight as I leave, I take in the faces of my lineage. I think about the joy Mamaw spoke with as she said the names of her people, her people that she longs for. I wince at the reality that one day, they’ll be my people, they’ll be the ones I’ll speak of longingly. The time to cherish is now, not in retrospect…

I walk out the door, Papaw mutters one final comment about his sunspot and I remind him he’s gonna live to be 100. We laugh, but we both believe it…

Another project, another day…