crow rudd (Freedom 2022)

crow rudd

they came for the poets


they came for the poets

and we did not speak out

for we did not know it was happening

the burmese junta had switched off the internet

and scraps of information

were barely making it

past the virtual blockade


they came for the poets

4 dead, over 30 imprisoned

and we did not speak out

for it did not make the headlines at the time

outside of a few fringe reporters

"though i have different views than you

i’ll lay down my life for you all"

k za win wrote

three weeks

before he did


they came for the poets

but khet thi made cake

ice-cream and poetry

before the violence of the military coup

robbed him of his future

“they shoot in the head

but they don’t know

revolution is in the heart”

these words spoken

at k za win’s funeral

before khet himself was arrested

and beaten to death


they came for the poets

but kyi lin aye was a teacher

beloved by her students

her blood type on her arm

her last wish

that her body be donated

to someone in need

instead, the junta

harvested the organs

of those it murdered


they came for the poets

in the place poetry has thrived

since ancient times

the place political poetry

has been stifled


since 1962

the place poets

have been beaten


and killed

for generations

and the west does not blink

because poetry is the weapon

to unseat tyrants

and we are full of them


they came for the poets

and we are speaking out

because the most beautiful souls

are lost in the harshest of ways

and they must always








there are times i want the numbness to take me again

to go back to my late teens

when we drowned our emotions

in ethanol and smoke

crushed pills and resin

and the mouths of everyone

too numb to care about us


i didn't care either

this is just how we passed the time

between friends getting sectioned

or driven to a&e

swallowing charcoal

and contraceptives

to make sure those nights didn't linger

our apathy would do the rest


time becomes a little unglued

when you don’t plan on sticking around

i think a year passed before i clocked

glances in the classroom

and it took another year to care

for the looks i was getting at home

unanswered questions about nights spent

under the bridge around the corner

spending whatever money i could get

at the one corner shop that didn’t ask for id


there are times i wish i could surrender

throw my arms out and trust fall back into oblivion

take the bumps and scrapes

harsh words and harsher fists

only to forget what the fight was about

share a bottle of the strongest stuff we could find

those wounds would reopen

only after we'd drank each other dry

it never really mattered

not like any of us had a plan

outside of who you'd bum your next cig off


there are times i wish i didn't have to feel everything

that the drugs had done their job

and stripped the burden of feeling

off this cage of flesh and worry

emotions permanently dialed to 11

the knob on the amp snapped off

grungy off-key notes strummed

on a hand-me-down guitar

followed by echoing shouts to turn it off

i wish i could turn it off


there are times i wish i could reset

play the last few levels over again

i’d set new checkpoints

make sure to save my game more often

take power-ups over debuffs

and find more confidence for the boss battles

i lost this game

and i’ll have to live with that

but the sequel is coming out soon

and i’ve got a new strategy

all cooked up

it’s time to win for once




little pigeons


"i always thought doves

were a strange choice

for a symbol of peace"

i hear from my hairdresser

mid trim

one wet thursday afternoon


i should preface this with the fact that

my mum cuts my hair

maybe once a year

she was a ‘proper’ hairdresser

before she had my sister


i remember spending an hour or two

there after school most days

if i didn't visit wendy

the wonky old donkey

down on the beach


i was impromptu entertainment

for the women

who were monthly

or even weekly regulars

with stories about playground dramas

and how i did on my maths test

while she busied herself

tidying the grey curls that hadn't changed

in over a decade


and how they'd chat

about the weather

their knitting groups

and how they'd rather come here

than the homes they

waited in


they never phrased it like that

but it was always the vibe i got

i never got the nerve to ask

what for




marvel movies

my father is a blank photo album and a strong dislike for the smell of weed

he left me with a face i cannot love and a distrust for authority figures

i set fire to my first relationship at the age of 16 because i thought that's how it worked

i thought that's how men acted

i am not a man anymore

the idea became so repulsive that instead of unlearning these behaviours

i shed the weighted vest of expectations and dropped it into the sea

and then i set the sea on fire


now it just makes me angry

every hard line on my figure feels like a failure

every macho bone in my body bends against the softness i wish i inhabited

the roughness of my voice is the villain of victims' nightmares

if i could wrench out my voice box and still be a competent poet i wouldn't think twice about it

even my emotions are an edict to an edifice i want no part of

the only thing i can claim as mine is a heart

far too eager to sandpaper scrape against old memories until it's ragged


now i watch time disappear like it's afraid of me

i am told that women find me intimidating

that trans people taking space is a bad thing

and we all know men have been dangerous for decades

so i wear dungarees with dinosaurs on them

i avoid the gym and too much exercise

and try to convince everyone that i am not a threat

that my darkest secret is that i just want to be loved

try to convince myself that these echoes don't define me

the kind of echoes that create bruised ribs and split lips

the kind that gave my mother bruised ribs and split lips

but i am not my father

i am not my father

i know i am not my father


but i am trying to teach myself not to follow in footsteps i cannot see

try stepping out of a shadow in the middle of the night

as a teen i filled notebooks with reasons for why i shouldn't stay

i was righteous in my belief that one quick fix would solve everything

i could make it painless


but thor 4 came out for my birthday

and there's talk of a young avengers movie

and charlie cox is back as daredevil

and moon knight and blade and secret invasion and kang the conqueror and–


i am alive because of marvel movies


i am alive because of all the reasons i had to go

i told myself i could not leave until it's finished

i cannot leave until i know how the story ends

i cannot end this chapter while there is so much left to know

and eventually i realised

every day is one extra than i ever thought i'd get

every new experience is ecstasy because i am here to see it

every new friend

every trip to distant cities

every new favourite food

every poignant moment between partners

every kiss and kind word and





it's ok if the reason you haven't killed yourself yet is a small one

sometimes it's all you need

i am alive because of marvel movies

and a desire to prove myself wrong


Bio: Crow Rudd (they/them) is a disabled nonbinary queer internationally published punk poet, multiple slam champion, events producer and workshop facilitator based in York. Their work focuses on the ideas of mental illness, queerness, activism, grief, identity, queer love and the importance of cuddles. Creator and host of Sad Poets Doorstep Club, founder of the UK Trans & Nonbinary Poets Network and workshop facilitator for They//Us, Crow has been published by Slice of the Moon Books, Paper & Ink Literary Zine and Warning Lines, has featured at Manchester Punk Festival, Loud & Queer Arts Festival and Leeds LGBT+ Lit Fest, and has headlined Punk in Drublic, Switchblade and Incite!, among others.


Their debut collection ’i am a thing of rough edges’ is available from Whisky & Beards Publishing.

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