Folio · 2017

The Aftertaste of Abuse

Tayven Wellington

The aftertaste of abuse is bittersweet, like dark chocolate, no sugar added.

A papercut that never bleeds or heals, stinging much longer than it needs to

It is burning your tongue so you can’t quite taste again for awhile.

The aftertaste of abuse is America four years from now,

It is my transgender cousin who finally worked up the courage to come out,

Now hiding away in fear, paralyzed in doubt

It is every gay, lesbian or bisexual friend whose rights have been taken away,

Crushed and beaten down, can’t even hide the tears.

It is every Muslim shutting their hijab in a drawer in the morning,

Praying their God will understand why.

The aftertaste of abuse is under my fingernails, gritting my teeth and throwing up in the bathroom sink,

Working up the nerve to look in the mirror, crying yourself to sleep,

It is disgust and it is disbelief.

It is the feeling of no longer being free in a country that boasts freedom,

It is seeing racism, homophobia and bigotry and who we so desperately wanted to call a leader.

The aftertaste of abuse is me,

Being told to accept a president with pending rape charges when I never chose to speak out about my own, because I was too afraid.

The aftertaste of abuse is the dread settling in like dust over a country that lost hope,

A hope for change

For a better future

Some fucking human decency

But there is hope,

Because we stand together, united!

Together we, as poets, artists, musicians

Together we as people will fucking scream!

So that our voices, if anyone’s, will be heard!

We feel for you

We bleed for you

And we will scream for you,

Because together we are strong

Together we will fight

Together we are support, we are love,

Together we are safe

Safe in a world that doesn’t feel so safe anymore.

The aftertaste of abuse is turning the other way,

Ignoring each other at a time when we need one another so desperately

Because the aftertaste of abuse

Is alone

It is numb

And it is unbearable, without all of you.

Folio · 2017