Rip Their Throats

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg, is not an easy read. The experience left me angry, sad, with a mouth full of screams. It made me wonder if society will ever look in the mirror, examine the horror it has spawned, and take responsibility for the destruction. If you’ve yet to read the book, do give it a go. It will not be fun, but it will be terribly real… and it might put important issues in perspective.

I chose one quote out of the gazillion I highlighted, and ripped a short poem out of it:

“Rip Their Throats”

rip their throats, dear friends,
or they’ll swallow all our air
and shit in our land.
don’t suffer a leech to breathe,
you are not bloodsucking filth

the wee notes…
– This is the rather unnerving quote that inspired the poem: “Poor whites are still taught to hate—but not to hate those who are keeping them in line. Lyndon Johnson knew this when he quipped, ‘If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.’”
– And if this poem leaves you feeling a bit sick, welcome to the discomfort club.
– Linked to Poets United (Poetry Pantry) and to my Diversity Reading List for 2017.

“Anger”, by Jelizaveta


In Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, the narrator discusses “upsilamba” with her students. After suggesting that the word was probably an invention of Nabokov, she invites her students to come up with new meanings for it. I wanted to join the defining game, of course. To me, upsilamba (in the poem below) describes an eruption of emotions screamed into the world by a young woman who has had enough. If you haven’t considered Reading Lolita in Tehran, I urge you to give it a go.


Winter laid frigid
fingers on July flesh—

while my limbs were naked
and her howling whip
(breeder of gasps
and shivers)
should’ve been already dead.

Betrayal puckered skin,
forced chatter into bones
and avalanched cold,
cold rage.

“Remove the gloves,”
she commanded.

I bared crimson fingernails
(and white teeth), and shouted,
“Upsilamba!” in her face.

a wee note…
– Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads and to Poets United (Poetry Pantry 331).