Censored

•Being Censored. One of my proudest moments! To be right up there withJames Joyce, Henry Miller, Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, and other illustrious censored writers.

Spring 2018 my poem, “The Burial” was accepted to a juried visual/literary arts exhibit at a Northern California Civic Gallery. Yay Me!! The day of installation, the curator called me. “The gallery says we cannot put your poem on display because it’s a family-oriented gallery and your poem has the word ‘rape’ in it. “’Rape’ is a family word, I reply. “60% of sexually molested children aged 6 and under are molested by family members.* A family-oriented gallery could be initiating the discussion.”

The gallery did not agree with me. They did agree to allow the poem to be displayed and read if I omitted the word “rape”. So we redacted the word “rape” with a black rectangle, and I did not speak the word, just left a space of silence where the word would be when I read.

This is 2018. This is the era of #MeToo. When will family-oriented galleries represent the truth of families? How and when have you been silenced?

The Burial

What’s left of the good daughter now
that the Silence is broken?

A tooth?
A hank of hair?

There are no bones.
Bones require weight,
and weight was not
allowed. Nor heft,
nor muscle.

Anorexia is the apotheosis
of what is required:
A starvation of the flesh
for the pure spirit
of compliance.
The absolute will
to not be.

So when the Silence is broken,
what’s left?

Only the empty spaces we
carry within, and Sound.

Sound like the upper
registers of a bat cry
caroming off walls.
Screams that locate us and set
dogs howling. (Can the dogs remember
their masters?)
We are here.
In the dark.
We have voices in registers that no one hears.
We have bodies made of empty spaces.

The Silence is broken.

What’s left of the good daughter?

We gather her trinkets: the trophies
with engraved plates, the metal awards,
the certificates of merit, the badges, the diplomas.
We wish for more.

But the Silence is broken.
We hear only the shattering roar
of our own guilt, we sense
her screams like dogs sense death.


Mother, please hold me,
Uncle raped me.
Father stop shouting,
I am seeing only black sky.
I am blinded by the darkness.
My brother cannot walk.
His eyes are vacuums.
They suck in from the sides.
The pupils cower in corners.

We were loyal like Cordelia.
Disabused of love, of belief,
we returned to rescue the
unrescuable. We persevered.

They relied on that.
But now the Silence is broken.


What’s left of the good daughter?

Karen Nagano

©KarenNagano2018

 #MeToo 2

#MeToo 2