Defined by the X (audio poem)

Defined by the X (Audio Poem)
There are those, many in fact
Who want to put us in a box
And have us check that
So that we become the sum of
All those X’s
Simply checked

We begin as expansive beings
No limits to who we can be
No limits to what we can achieve
Then in those boxes we must climb
Until eventually those boxes
Have us confined

Many X’s checked
Written permanently
On the outside
So others can decide
How we should be
Grouped and defined
Never bothering to ask–
What is on the inside,
Beyond the crossed lines?

Life does not share generously
But there are plenty of boxes
For you and me
To crawl into and be moved along
A conveyor belt that efficiently
Scans, categorizes, and determines
Our “needs” and our final destination

Crawling out of those boxes
And collapsing their control
No easy task, but
Try we must, because
We are so much more
Than the sum of all those
Boxes, simply checked
With a symbol that represents
    A target,
     A mark, or
      A variable, unknown

This poem surprised me at the end and maybe it surprised you at the start. First, I did not think I would use Algebra as a grown-up, but my last line proves me wrong, and my algebra teacher, Ms. Nagy (real name) correct. 😆 Second, you may have expected to read a poem about my “ex,” not the “X” in a checked box. I have checked plenty of boxes, but an “ex,” I do not have. 😉

I wrote the first two stanzas of the poem, “Defined by the X,” after completing the U.S. 2020 Census, three months ago. I began this poem in response to the constant request to define who we are, based on demographic boxes we must check. Completing the Census is incredibly important and I would never disregard submitting the short form, but the activity reminded me how often we are reduced to a group of boxes, filled in with an X – an action that contributes to the simplistic, and often limiting and manipulative, activity of labeling, grouping, and selling to people based on boxes assigned to them.

Thank you for stopping by and reading (and listening) to my poem, “Defined by the X.” So many scenarios ask us to “check” who we are. When I taught Junior English it took two class periods for the students to fill in all of the bubbles on the ACT questionnaire, before the test even began!

I am wrapping up the poems for our second collection from the Being a Woman chapbook series. This collection inspires me and leaves me feeling empowered whenever I work on the poems. I hope they do the same for our readers. 😊 After some final polishing and formatting, I will send the draft to my illustrator, Sammi Lee. I am excited to see how she will interpret this collection. I have also been working on my 50 Life Stories project, specifically, weaving several of them into what will become a book-length story. I would love your good writing vibes as I work on these projects and I gladly do the same for you. 💗 I hope this weekend is whatever you wish it to be! Michele

I cheated this week, and opted for two free photos, since none of my outdoor photos fit my poem.🤪 Picture 1: Photo by Cottonbro (Pexels) Picture 2: Photo by Anna Shvets (Pexels) Picture 3: Hummingbird visiting our backyard

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

6 thoughts on “Defined by the X (audio poem)

  1. It’s too easy to label people and put them in a box, but we see this going on more and more. One thing I learned as a nurse is that people are all individuals and must be treated as such. Even in the medical and mental health fields, it is all too common for people to be treated as a diagnosis rather than a person. Great poem!

    Liked by 1 person

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