Monday, 23 November 2020

     I Was A Nineties Girl

by S. J. Stephens

I wanted to be Madonna     with her stacked jelly bracelets and forbidden sexuality     a style of every nineties girl’s dream and every boy’s fantasy            she was more than ambition mocking      virginity and      scoffing the doctrine of her youth     daring to defy the laws of man and church     In my room singing     La Isla Bonita     with little idea of its meaning     A young girl with eyes like the desert     the music moved through my body     sang to my innocence at the first mention  of  wild dreams      and tropical storms gathering      I was touched beneath my skin through my bones     into the marrow     where all secrets are held      and wait  

It was a time of designer Guess jeans and peg rolled pants     high ponytails     and that guy who believed I was     on fire for the lord     and     I was burning in that fire      deeply immersed in the word     but also submerged in Bel Biv Devoe  Do Me Baby and Color me Bad    I Wanna Sex You Up     Boys to Men singing     I’ll Make Love To You

My first kiss, a dead thing flopping     on wet sand        before love          came with a second kiss     and his hand covering my breast     kneading my flesh     a deafening music     tuned to perfection        but boys make lousy lovers on driveways            with clumsy attempts at seduction     even when the stars are clear     warm air cooled by the hour     submerged in feeling     under a spell that resonates through decades of good lovers       and bad lovers   beneath those first moments of bliss        when rational thought lost       to the hum of lust     I want that magic in every kiss     in every touch of lips      and in my lover’s words  

We were     pretty girls with blue eyeshadow and black mascara     pink cheeks and frosted pink lips     teased hair three inches high     and hairspray stuck to the bathroom floor     we were girls on the verge     before cell phones and computers     a dark craze emerged     Madonna posed naked on the street     pushing the limits of virtue     beyond what my experience could beat out in time to the righteous music     playing in the background     a soundtrack to the nineties    

After rock n roll     Ruth Bader Ginsberg     and Madeleine Albright     gave way to the commercialization of my body      tricked into objectifying my sexuality     my body      until we     all women      bleed openly      reduced to sexuality        stripped of power          we slit our own wrists      in unwitted suicide 

I fear that legacy as I am the nineties girl    living proof that progress isn’t always progress      my misspent regrets are worthless in the currency of living     pennies on the dollar in the exchange of memories      at today’s rate     I’ll keep my memories     because I know this wild ride isn’t new      every generation     lives through decades of change     and at least I know        while you exploit          my girlhood                   


I am an unapologetic bad ass feminist bitch.       

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S.J. Stephens lives and writes in the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina.  She is an MFA candidate for poetry at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. In addition to publishing in journals such as The Licking River Review and Sugared Water, she has recently published a chapbook, Where All the Birds Are Dancing, with Finishing Line Press. 


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