Anne Kalinowsky - Lakeview

PROTECT THE CHILDREN

They say ““Protect the Children””
Mothers cover their children's eyes when they see us on TV
To deliver them from evil
And do right by their god
But their god is not my god because my god is loving and my god doesn't watch me through his fingers.
But his sons and daughters say the Lord's Prayer and carve hate into the Bible with a blunt kitchen knife and
It makes me sick but I know better than to speak up
again

(“Try not to taste the copper candy in your mouth
just swallow it down like the rest of us”)

““Protect the Children””
Mike Pence supports a plan to divert money from HIV treatment to conversion therapy camps that have two phases:
To steal the love and identity from the minds of our youth
And then to mold them with dirty fingers into something empty and cold
Broken pottery shards of a person
Sick barb wire twists of a mind hung up on the fence as a warning
“You don't belong here”

(“You can wash your hands in the bathroom sink but you'll never be any cleaner”)

“Protect the children”
Do their mothers and fathers know that half of conversion camp prisoners kill themselves within the first 6 months?
Maybe they wouldn't sign their kids away if they knew that the counselors all sit around a card table on Friday nights
And bet cigarettes on who will show up to group therapy next week
And who will be found strung up in their closets by a thread
Like swaying marionettes
(“Remember their faces, they died as they lived.”)

“Protect the children”
I fell in love for the first time in 7th grade with a girl named Lily
She held my hand and my heart skipped
Without meaning to, I lost myself in her whiskey brown eyes and in the music of her hips
She felt just like a cool breeze in the heat of summer and I swore to god that I could breathe her in like that too
But that was before I knew what it felt like to trace my fingers over pottery shards
Or bite my tongue so hard it bled and then harder
Back then, all I knew was that I loved a girl
And she loved me

So they say “protect the children”
But we were children too

Jason Carney