Poet-Provocateur Jessica Helen Lopez drops C**t.Bomb.


Cunt.Bomb.  jessica helen lopez

Cunt.Bomb.

A Chapbook by Jessica Helen Lopez

Create Space Indep. Publishing

38 pages, $10.95

You were stunned — perhaps even shocked and appalled — by the title, weren’t you? That is the intention of poet provocateur Jessica Helen Lopez. She seeks to reclaim the word “cunt” from its current position as a palabra non grata, the equivalent of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series (“he-who-must-not-be-named”). Instead, feminist-activist-slam poet Lopez wants to use the word to wield female power in all its guises.

In the ten poems contained in this chapbook, Lopez explores the many roles that make up a woman, as well as the thoughts and feelings that correspond with each. She explores the dualities in a woman’s life; her persona alternates between tender and tough, sentimental and sassy, spiritual and sexual. She is a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a lover, a poet, a provocateur. She is fully human.

Lopez knows the title of her chapbook is shocking to many. In the Foreword, she notes, “For those who recoil at the thought of the title of this humble chapbook, I invite you to sit and listen/read for a bit….I uncover for myself women…who fight against the oppression and pillage against women and of course who dive whole-heartedly into the vastness and mysterious complexity of unbridled sexuality. Yes, I love the cunt. Yes, I have one. And yes, I will continue to use the word because it is not disparaging but rather has been wrangled into submission for hundreds of years; only to be used against women and girls as a tool for abuse and means of brutal capitulation..”

In the title poem, Lopez stakes out her territory, literally and figuratively.

“the cunt is absolutely

not a bomb

it will not hand-grenade explode

your skull open like a cantaloupe

brain matter writhing against

the wall behind your head

it will not shred your hands

to lace if you happen to finger

the trigger every now and then.”

In a handful of lines, she faces head-on the almost superstitious wariness some have of what she describes as “the velvety walls of the cunt…the blue-black ocean of true origin.”

In the following lines you can hear the rhythms and verbal acrobatics of the slam poet onstage under a hot spotlight.

“the cunt is not a rude house guest

soiling the kitchen towels, sneaking

bacon scraps to your arthritic dog

the cunt is not a rapist,

nor a necromancer

because Webster says it is so

cunt is the most disparaging word

in the English language”

In short, she concludes,

“recall that the cunt

yields great power

which is to say

it will scare a great many

people”

In “A Poem for My Breasts,” Lopez addresses her tempestuous and ever-evolving relationship with the other part of her body that allows a woman to be both mother and lover, nurturer and seductress.

“Understand that I hoped for you before I knew what you were…I courted the both of you. With the wistful mirror gazes of adolescence…The bemoaning vigilance that my body should open into symphony at last.”

Even now she acknowledges that her breasts still retain control over her. “I write this braless, without blouse and warmed by the dapple of white sun bleaching the skin. No, I lie to you, breasts. I sit twisted as always into this vise grip of black satin, underwire sneering. The padding, the lift, the lace and trellis of the pinched breasts. This embarrassingly expensive bra.”

“Thought Woman” finds Lopez mining a spiritual vein deep in Meso-American history and culture, exploring her personal creation story.

“[Thought Woman] stitched a burlap body, brown of course

and blew sand into it.

This to be the me of me.

My insides tierra and just a drop of moisture.

She took four long ropes of her hair.

Onyx like Moctezuma’s eyes and threaded the burlap

girl/boy body….

Thought Woman sang me into this world —

to let me cry, to bleed,

give babies to this land,

invoke dream stories,

to inscribe the world with

my something.”

“Kissy Kissy — for the Young Feminist at the Playground” captures a moment in her childhood when, in the reflected light of a boy’s crush on her, young Jessica discovered a key part of her true self. It also features perhaps the best imagery and most mellifluous language in this collection.

“A skinny boy like a live wire and

skin the color of ten melted

caramels atop a warm television set…

He liked me sure enough — called me

his woman, my sixth-grade hips

but only a slight jump rope

tremor beneath my yellow picture day dress….

Bubba asked me to meet him

during second recess behind

the kissing tree

and I would have if only

just to see the amber flame of his eyes

lashes long and spider soft

curled upward like a girl.

He waited with his entourage of

kickballers and sixth-grade romantics.

It was the historic kiss that never was.

The cottonwood was afloat that day

seed like muted firefly or snow

or furry white boats that coasted and

caught the breeze to tickle my nose

I was perfecting the cherry bomb

from the top rung of the jungle gym…

I was not the kisser of boys.

Nobody’s hipless woman.

No make-believe wife

playing house behind the maple tree.”

Despite the many lines I have quoted here, there is much more to the beginning, middle and, especially, the end of “Kissy Kissy” for the reader to discover.

Lopez recalls one of her childhood birthday parties in “The Mother.” In reviewing old photographs, she ultimately realizes what is missing from the photographs — and from her childhood.

“You hosted one birthday party in honor

of me my whole life. I was four years young

and it was a California Easter Sunday.

The kind of Sunday people move

to the West Coast for…

I am ten years older than you then.

A whole decade and more of misdirected men

have come and gone for me, a daughter

of my own. Many birthdays since

that I care less to remember.

And it took me this long to notice

the one thing missing from those

Easter photos that long ago day.”

A two-word line ends the poem with a gut punch the reader is not expecting.

The concluding poem, “Diana the Huntress,” depicts a vigilante woman avenging the rapes and deaths of working women outside of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso.

“The newspapers jabbered like angry bees

and the AP wire was alive with the

electricity of my name

Diana the Huntress

and I fear no moon, Lady of the Wild Creatures

La Cazadora worshipped by the womanly

workforce

of Juarez…

I only ever wanted soft righteousness not a countryside

riddled with the husks of dead raped women

They were like wild mustangs, the dark-eyed girls, cuckolded

shepherded to the slaughter; knees like young colts,

necks bared and naked breasts an offering to the swine…

reaping

sowing

beseeching

vengeance”

The ten ticking bombs in this chapbook demonstrate why Jessica Helen Lopez was recently named one of the “30 Poets in Their 30s to Watch” by Muzzle magazine and why she holds the title of 2012 and 2014 Women of the World (WOW) City of ABQ Champion.

Lopez is a member of the Macondo Foundation, an association of socially engaged writers founded by Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street, Caramelo) to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community. She is the founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman collective and is a TED Talk speaker.

Her first collection of poetry, Always Messing With Them Boys, was published by West End Press in 2011.

Advertisements

One thought on “Poet-Provocateur Jessica Helen Lopez drops C**t.Bomb.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s