I met Stanley Gemmell in a Haight Street bar in San Francisco over a year ago. Within five minutes into our conversation, I knew Stanley was an exceptional person, a poet, and most importantly, one of the good guys. We chatted about Do-Gooder and our stand against child trafficking. By the end of the night, he made a promise to write a poem for the girls who are trafficked. Over the months he kept in touch and let me know that he hadn’t forgotten about his promise. Then one day he sent me this…

 

Poem Of An Abused Girl

Torn from my life
and bathed in tears
sold into slavery
for a man’s sexual needs,
how can this be?
The world was
supposed to be good
to me.
Now it rots in death.
Stuck in a cage,
if I run away,
my family will
take bullets
to the chest and head
to pay (for me).
I feel numb,
today has been
sixteen men
- one for each
year I have been
alive - my room
mate is only ten.
I live in a house
in New Jersey,
Land of the Free
Home of the Brave,
but what I will relate
to you this day
will make you sick.
First, they came to
my family’s house
and regaled us
with tales of good
fortune, good money,
happy times, a way
for us to escape
poverty. Then it changed.
Don’t worry, it is only
for a short time
that you will be away.
It has been four years
since I have seen my
loved ones.
I am one of the older girls here,
one of the veterans,
expected to soothe
the younger girls’ fears.
Long ago I let go of the chance
to grab a weapon and to fight back.
Like I said,
they know where my mama
and papa live. What to do?
I am good at sex now.
The better I am,
the quicker it ends.
The only hope I have gotten
was a conversation
overheard amongst
my handlers about
one of their houses
(I think in Arizona)
having been shut down
by the authorities.
But still,
I sometimes bleed,
I get the flu and lose
my privileges,
the few cartoons
and sweets I am allowed.
Of what do I have to be proud?
Except that I have endured.
I wonder about the men
who visit me. How
can they do this?
Do they know
I am trapped
against my will?
I will end this short letter
to no one in particular,
in times of old they called
it a poem, but I know it
as a cry of pain.
I do not wait for help.
All I can do is survive.
Death does not suit me.
____________

by STANLEY GEMMELL
8/7/2014

 

Interview with Stanley Gemmell

We were blown away by Stanley's ability to write so honestly and accurately from the point of view of a trafficked girl. Immediately, you're absorbed into the life of this girl. As you go from line to line you grow angrier and know that she is one of many, many girls with the same story. But at the end, you are surprisingly reveling in the this girl's refusal to let them win. "Death does not suit me." No it does not. 

To state it simply, we are captivated by Stanley Gemmell. A fierce talent using his powerful voice for those that cannot. We're proud to stand beside him and fight the good fight. We encourage you to take the time to get to know him a bit by reading the below:

 

1. Give us some background on you.

My background is really gnarly.  Intermixed ethnicity, desperate tales of love from my forebears, mad drama.  I was born in a Puerto Rico which was just realizing the benefits of its association with USA, and I internalized that.  As I grew I always sought to stand out in a special light, not for any other reason than that I earned it.  I always excelled.  After a few major life tragedies, existence turned me inward.  I began to explore the great traditions which form the inheritance of life.  Some find resonance in Yogic forms, others in European traditions, but ultimately all paths are retellings of THE PATH, which is Path-hood really.  So I did that and then I found to my surprise and glee that a lot of good came from it.  I felt less like a stranger and more like one of the chosen (damnation / salvation / etc, they are all drastic shifts from a level of self certainty which is very powerful to undergo... such shift).  Since then I have been listening.  Every strand which coheres with other strands gets isolated and moved, much like a forensics team will laboriously reconstruct ancient papary consisting now of thousands of shattered pieces.  As the elements sift, and SINCE I have sought to shake, to energize my life and my life's vessel, always (yet within reason, of course) the elements thus sifted conglomerate and accrue.  The great temptation I fear, in the story of one's full journey is that the acute sense of helpless distance.  The existential dillema which struck one's consciousness with such force in our youth is now being forgotten.  Perhaps deliberately or not, our systems increasingly reflect a refusal to inherit or thus deal with the simple fact we can only describe ourselves, we can never share our being with another's - and mortality is the final arbiter of it.  So my background, while epic, remains always a secondary consideration.  But thank you for asking, I am charmed!
 

2. As a poet, what has been your greatest accomplishment?

Being recognized by the Brown literary community.  Their openness and support were crucial.  They made my work feel integral to itself by imparting professional dignity unto me, although I lacked some of the credentials.  They allowed me to receive nourishment, and they still do.  Faculty - guest lecturers and a convivial, community-service oriented series of public events combine to create truly life enhancing experience!
 

3. What do you still hope to achieve as a poet?

An extremely long work.  In terms of size.  Which will justify the innocent victims of society's influence.  It is my belief that our culture inspires destruction of every kind by propping models of scarcity.  My achievements are quite humble.  I am little known and have yet to make a living from writing.  I hope to achieve a SALARY haha, but if not, I will settle for helping influence our world towards the better.
 

4. When we met in the bar on Haight Street, you were very passionate about the cause of Child Trafficking in the US. Why did it mean so much to you to write this poem?

Personal loss, increased awareness of how horrible and real sex abuse can be.  Since my childhood was free of it, I never considered it much, but as one gets older the cycle of life becomes more important, one gauges life, differently.  Children are the future and as such they need more protection.  But the issue is complex.  There are shades of grey not available in legislature but very present in life.  What of the over simplification of these powder keg issues?  Philosophers and caring, thoughtful people have to face the dilemma.  Fierce and brutal experiences (as the film "The Whistleblower" depicts) can happen additionally to would be rescuers, not just victims.  If a poem, if an effort of mine can help make the exploitation of innocents more human, who am I to refuse?  Passion is in my nature.  I have spent my lifetime sculpting my passion, honing my steel.
 

5. The poem is so dead on with what is going on regarding child trafficking in the US. What was your process in writing it?

I immerse myself in language and see where and how and why language (that is words) intersects with the real.  I pay attention to life and then make life wait in the other room while I compose!  Haha.  I expect none to recognize any authority in me, I invite them to trust the things I say.  I put myself in the place of the poor girl and just let my most serious priorities emerge.  Truth... above all, not looking away.
 

6. How did the process of writing this poem make you feel and what kind of awareness did it bring?

It makes me cry still.  Writing it was not much different from other pieces but when I read it after it just floored me.  I kept thinking about the girl, the protagonist, her constantly renewed will to live forged in the fires of hardship and what kind of person that produces, and how many women worldwide have something of her in them.  Then the honor of me Capturing any of this truth, to Any degree, wow.  I am humbled.  It makes me glad to be a writer.
 

7. What do you think makes a person a Do-Gooder? 

Hope.  Some can actually "do" very little, because of circumstance or whatever, but I think hoping and wishing for a better world still counts.  We share ideas in this collective humanity, the more folk yearn for light and goodness and dignity and freedom and kindness and love, the less shamefully tragic events will occur, the less the atmosphere in which they are possible... 

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