Open Season – Torii Johnson

People in the south have mouths that cradle their vowels
like a hunter holds his gun.
Speak slow ‘round the molasses of their thoughts
and savor the sound.
There’s only malicious intent if you threaten their freedom.
I’ve been asked many times why I care
that I could be thrown out of a restaurant for who I love,
because I shouldn’t want to spend money there
in the first place.
My mouth fills with blood from a bitten tongue.
Don’t kiss in the car in case we get run off the road.
Scared to hold hands at the supermarket
because it might scare the kids’ parents
& Southern Walmarts have hunting rifle sections.
Not all of them but anywhere near a forest
or something you can drown in.

I drown out my cousins talking about hunting with
any music other than country.
Count incorrect use of the word gay 3 times.
They cradle the sound of it like an animal about to be skinned.

I try not to make a sound.

Torii Johnson studies Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies and English at Wesleyan University. She’s a Mississippi transplant that loves to get in fights about low-income issues and whether or not femininity is inherently oppressive. In the past, she’s contributed to Helloflo, and has been featured on Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Femsplain, Vagabond City Lit, and The Fem. She spends her time taking too many reading-intensive classes, working in publicity at the Wesleyan University Press, pretending to be funny on twitter, and trying to pet every dog she sees. Here’s her personal website.

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