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Saturday, November 12, 2016


by Devon Balwit

Chelsea Manning tried to commit suicide last month as she was starting a week of solitary confinement at the prison barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., her punishment for a previous attempt to end her life in July. —The New York Times, November 4, 2016. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters/Newscom via The Intercept.

The constraints are multiple:
Chelsea jailed inside Bradley,
Bradley penned inside the military,
a deployed soldier inside a perimeter

The voices are multiple:
of wrongness, of rage, of never
belonging, of DADT, her security
clearance no security.

The postures are multiple:
curled over a desk, curled fetal,
clenching fists, crying, screaming,
flipping tables, flipping the bird.

The labels are multiple:
MOS, 35F, PFC, Specialist,
gay, trans, gender dysphoric
traitor, victim, hero, woman.

The reactions are multiple:
bullying, scorn, vilification,
compassion, incomprehension,
indifference, pity, respect.

The wishes are multiple:
to move on from being traitor
or whistleblower, to die, to live,
to be heard, to define herself.

Devon Balwit is a poet and educator in Portland, OR.  Her work has appeared before in TheNewVerse.News and elsewhere, in places such as Unlikely Stories Mark V, Five 2 One, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Rattle.