The Paranoid Lady

Jo Ann Lordahl –

Last week I led a small poetry workshop. Not surprisingly we passed around and read poetry. Barbara, reading an old poem of mine, said, “This is so current. You’ve got to get this poem out there.” The poem was written a good twenty years ago, maybe longer. Here it is. What do you think?

The Paranoid Lady

 It was a casual statement said to me

about locks and windows, bars and safety:”

WE have to take into account your paranoia

(meaning my unreasonable fear of rape).

I gave not a sound as stones sank to my bones:

Paranoid. Paranoid. I am paranoid.

In silence that night his words came to haunt me

with the ghost of a friend, raped, and just why.

She was free. She was brave. She was young,

she jogged a neighborhood long-legged.

And owning herself, the shy poet enshrouded

in competency. Until two a.m. one morning –

Window screen slit. Eye-glasses crunched.

Knife on throat.

The voice brutal. Her wild freedom a dead dream.

Until I can walk the streets on a full moon night

Alone, with no blotches of fear – my friend, my lover,

My husband, my father: Don’t call me paranoid:

Call yourself blind.


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