Curl up with this powerful Sugar slam poetry by Allison Van Cura. A portion of this was featured on the CNN special This Is Life with Lisa Ling, and the entire poem is being featured here for the first time. Enjoy!
I’m still trying to understand
the way the world works
and there are some days I’m convinced it doesn’t.
It was a college dropout
who worked minimum wage
and kept a minimum waist,
but maximum taste.
Who sold out or married rich
the day she bitterly realized that
society long ago decided this:
Women are merely ingredients for an image of success but
men are handed all the cookbooks.
While simultaneously taught that creation and kitchen is where
the feminine should pitch in.
Leaving us all with some recipes that will never leave their page.
Maybe if we strayed from shoving masculinity
down the throats of young boys while
convincing them to stray from playing house,
we’d have a lot less men
straying to find a mistress
to wreck their homes with.
And women would be empowered
to become less home-wreck
and more architect.
Bringing to life blueprints of structures
that start outside of their wombs
and offer minds as exquisite as the fingerprints
formed against the oceans
of idea like amniotic fluid.
we didn’t force feed our girls starvation,
or teach them to be sweet,
then teach them to be hot,
but forget to educate them on how sugar burns
my sisters and I could nurse
society’s third degree all by ourselves
with our doctorates.
I understand why
there are men out there
who will offer to sprinkle
my struggle with confectioner’s sugar
in return for affection,
but I beg you to consider if this
life you’ve treated yourself to has been tricking you
before making me your arm candy.
I’ve had nirvana
raided countless times
but I’ve forgiven the invasions
sooner than I’ll ever forgive myself
for the times I offered my heaven up
with open invitation.
I know it’s hard to believe
in the light at the end of the tunnel
when you can’t afford
to pay the electric bill.
I know that the glow at the end of my path is life
and I cry just thinking about the vandals
I’ve allowed to graffiti my walls,
just so I could have the funds for a flicker.
But everyone deserves that hope,
and I try to prepare my life fairly,
aware of the carcinogen that is the false sweetness
pumped into my like oxygen,
satisfying my craving
but destroying me from the inside out.
I grew up watching my father inject insulin daily
to treat sugar levels that were not balanced.
When I find myself trying to stabilize
my own need-hate relationship with
the honey of survival,
I seek the needle in the haystack
to stitch together
and the payback.
I will scrub the scribbles from the
walls I’ve put up so high around me.
I will befriend my neighbors
and become familiar
with the way my knuckles feel
knocking on their door,
when I need to borrow a cup of sugar.
As a woman I may never be
privileged with the precise cookbook for stereotypical success
but I will have had so much experience
with loving blindly
and leaping faithfully before looking,
that eyeballing the ingredients
will feel like a familiar braille.
I will try to make peace with
the war once inside of me
and forgive the soldiers
who were wrongly taught
my body was their battle to win.
The next time life
puts me in hot water
I will soften but not break;
I will bend,
but not burn.