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Kestrel McLoughlin

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Kestrel McLoughlin

Every morning we fight a propaganda war

In the mirror.

Those days when we win  

We fight the battle again

With the people inflicted on us in perpetuity.   


To win you need only

Burn their unauthorized biographies

And canonize your own.


They’ll fight you; for the creative rights.

They’ll make your character the villain in their own story

And make you root for the other guy.


It starts with your fifth-grade teacher  

Who tells you you’re small,  

That you’re going to be a ditch-digger.  

He encourages the others to laugh at you.

He doesn’t do this because he thinks you’ll fail,

But because he wants you to;

Because at 10 years old

Your life’s music is already what he wished he ever bothered to play.


It happens again with your second boyfriend:

Not the first one, who asked you for a kiss

And took you to see Star Wars;

The next one, who realized that you forget your No

When you hate yourself.


Your mother will write the chapter

That some mental illness she diagnoses

Is the reason you eat your dinner in your room.

You’ll get a scale and measuring tape as a housewarming gift

When you finally get the -crappy- job

That gets you out of there.


Your boss who needs you to be an assistant forever

Will pretend you’re bad at your job  

To keep you right where he needs you:

Angry and quiet and making his job possible

And nodding at his racist jokes

And his right to use the word Bitch.


So here you are.

Sitting on your bed waiting to cry

Writing survival instinct philosophies

Like Love is for Children

And I’m nothing but trouble

And Strength is never letting them in.

So you dare defeat:  defeat me.  Prove me right.   

I’m a failure but I’m a wise failure.

I’m invoking my destiny here.

Like a hyena, come for me.   

Make me at least feed the earth as one good thing I’m for.


This.  Is.  A.  Lie.


You terrify them.

They know just what you’re capable of.

And their only defence is a story.   

It’s called Stampede.   

It goes like this:

The wolves come for the weakest

And when they come to make their kill

They do their prey a service

By choosing you,  

So those left are down one hindrance.   

It’s your destiny to be food.

So take it:  it’s not just inevitable, it’s good.

You were destined to be drunk by greater creatures.


This story is why the jackals survive at all.

Because you are a lion

That’s never seen its own reflection.

So they come for you as though they have the upper hand.

This is why hyenas laugh:   

It’s the propaganda that justifies the invasion.


I can’t diagnose your bruised heart for you,

Only you have the authority to issue its death certificate.

I don’t know your real potential;  

but the moment you draw your personal limit in the sand,

There it lies.


With your unfueled freight train throat,
Invoking your name to the sky

Would be enough to win.

So they howl together.

Because a chorus of hands clapping

Is louder than any drum.

Certainly louder than a drum no longer struck.  

That’s what alone is:  a story one won’t or mustn’t tell.

So change the story.  Now scream your story.  More.


I can love you so loud.

You are our hero.

But from inside your head your voice is louder than ours.

You’re already stronger than  

everything that’s ever happened to you;

You never needed a knight in shining armour.

You are a knight in shining armour.

So walk through their skirmishing line in tap-dance shoes.

Wear black and silver  
so you reflect AND absorb the world’s light.   


Your last-stand battle cry, and ours,  

is and always will be your name.

Make it louder every time someone tells you  

to yield to their sound.

Make their feet feel the sound of your power

Like Beethoven’s piano

Until their legs tremble.   


Because when you speak  

All who would benefit from more fear are afraid  

And everyone worth loving suddenly believes it.   


And then, when at last you have done this,  

When your voice has rendered you surrounded with only love

I invite you to take the steel off your desperately steeled shoulders.

You will have earned your peace the moment you entitle yourself to it.

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Kestrel McLoughlin

PS I'm sorry to have forgotten a content warning, for vague references to sexual violence. I don't notice an Edit option on threads.

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  • Forum Moderator
6 hours ago, Kestrel McLoughlin said:

I don't notice an Edit option on threads.


You have to ask a mod. We have ultimate editing power!



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  • Jackie C. changed the title to Autobiography (Content Warning: Vague Reference to Sexual Assault)
  • Admin
12 hours ago, Jackie C. said:

You have to ask a mod


or an Admin.  But if you look at the title line, you can see Add Tags which does the job just fine on content warning. 

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  • VickySGV changed the title to Autobiography

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