Thursday, February 28, 2019

Poetry Corner - Circumcision Scar






This is the fifth in a series of poems and song parodies that I wrote for a contest that centered around male infant circumcision. The contest encouraged original songs and poems, as well as parodies of other works. For my last Poetry Corner entry, I posted an original poem, trying to encapsulate the feeling of helplessness that I feel at not being able to do anything to stop the mutilation and abuse of children unable to fend for themselves.

This time, I'm posting a poem, inspired by the melody of the Japanese children's song, "Akatonbo."

The word "akatonbo" means "red dragon flies" in Japanese, and in this song, they serve as a reminder of the singer's long-lost childhood.

When I first heard this song, I thought the melody was rather sad, as if looking back at a traumatic memory wishing it would have been different. I had to find out what the lyrics were, and sure enough, they reflected the melody perfectly.

Here are the original Japanese lyrics in both Japanese script and English translation:

赤とんぼ
夕焼け小焼けの赤とんぼ
負われてみたのはいつの日か

山の畑の桑の実を
小籠に摘んだはまぼろしか

十五で姐やは嫁に行き
お里の便りも絶え果てた

夕焼け小焼けの赤とんぼ
止まっているよ竿の先

Red dragonflies
Red dragonflies
In the red sunset
When was it that
I watched them
On someone's back last?

In mountain fields
We gathered mulberries
In small baskets
Or was it just
An illusion?

At fifteen
My big sister left home
To get married
Her letters have
Long since ceased to come

Red dragonflies
In the red sunset
Look, one has stopped there
On the tip
Of a bamboo pole

Having seen what the song was about, I was inspired to write lyrics that may reflect what a grown man who resents having been circumcised might feel now that he is older, aware of what has happened to him, and unable to change the past. Rather than reflect the Japanese translation, I wrote them to fit the rhythm of the original song. In my version of the song, a circumcision scar replaces the dragonflies, both serving the same function of taking the singer back to a time when things were different.

Circumcision Scar
Back when I was in my mother's womb,
Back when I was born
Intact and whole,
There at her breast I'd suckle
Mindless of what was to come

Sleeping blissfully rocked in her arms
Long ago it seems
Oh that life
Had been that way forever
Was it only just a dream?

Then a stranger took me from her breast
Oh so suddenly
Behind closed doors
There on a table
Men with scalpels had their way with me

Time has passed, I've yet to understand
Now that I am grown
Now when I see
My circumcision scar
Tears are always sure to come.

"How can you remember?" ask those who wish to belittle a resentful man's feelings.

An intactivist friend of mine once said something along the lines of:

"A circumcised man is reminded of his circumcision every time he urinates, showers, masturbates or makes love. The question is, how could he forget?"

Even if you can't remember, even if you don't; the scar is there day in and day out to remind you, for the rest of your life.


Related Posts:
Poetry Corner - Song Parody: "My Foreskin Home"

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Poetry Corner - Lullaby For the Damned




This is the fourth in a series of poems and song parodies that I wrote for a contest that centered around male infant circumcision. The contest encouraged original songs and poems, as well as parodies of other works. For my last Poetry Corner entry, I posted a song parody based on a song called "Greenfields" by an older American folk-singing group called "The Brothers Four;" and an explanation as to why I chose this song.

This time around I'm posting an original poem I wrote, called "Lullaby for the Damned."

When I wrote this poem, I wrote it from a feeling of helplessness, powerlessness; first, for the child, who is in an unescapable predicament, and second from me as an onlooker unable to do anything about it.

This is how I felt the first time I ever saw a video of an infant circumcision, with a poor child strapped down to a cutting-board, unable to move, unable to escape, and this is how I continue to feel today.

Short of getting on my knees and begging parents not to put their child through this, short of beseeching doctors to adhere to that dictum of medicine, "First do no harm," what else can I do?

Nothing.

And what else can a child do?

They say that victims of abuse, whether it be sexual, emotional or physical, have a coping mechanism to deal with the pain. As a way to escape what's going on, the victim will imagine him or herself outside of his or her body, in order to detach themselves from what's going on; they imagine their souls escaping their bodies and that they are floating above the room as they look down and watch what's going on. This coping mechanism is known as "dissociation."

Witnesses of male infant circumcision report that as the child's penis is being filleted, the child lets out shrieks and screams unlike any other cries they've heard. The child often blows his lungs out, unable to scream any more, and eventually passes out. He goes into a state of "shock," often called "sleeping" by unsympathetic doctors. What is happening is that, this is how the child is coping with what is going on; this is their escape.

What are doctors thinking as they do this?

Are they actually there, in the moment?

Or have the souls of the doctors too left the very room?

In order to escape the shrieks and screams?

Or in the case of male doctors, away coping with that same familiar pain they experienced decades ago?

As they crush and dice, are they reliving the whole thing?

Trying to get away still?

Is cutting other children a continued attempt to escape that which, for the rest of their lives, will haunt them whenever they urinate, masturbate, take a shower or have sex?

As I stand there, helpless, powerless, all I can do is say this prayer in my head...


Lullaby for the Damned
By Joseph Lewis

Sleep on, oh little one,
And pray that you don't wake.
Escape the tethered body
That a knife will soon come rake.


Drift away to slumberland,
Your struggle is in vain.
Only there can you be safe,
and never know the pain.

Related Posts:

Poetry Corner - Song Parody: "My Foreskin Home"

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Circumcision Documentary Twitter Storm Continues


Almost as soon as the circumcision documentary American Circumcision was featured on Netflix, the film moved onto the "Popular on Netflix" category, prompting a Twitterstorm which continues today.

People's reaction tweets are being posted every day, and the reactions range from "eye-opening" and "informative" to "dumb" and "horrible." When challenging the status quo, it's to be expected that there is going to be backlash, that's why negative reactions aren't too surprising.

The negative responses are what people would expect; there is no shortage of people defending their "parental choice," tired attempts at male infant circumcision humor, body shaming men with anatomically correct male genitals and accusations of "one-sidedness" and "anti-semitism."

Still, in spite of nay-saying Twitter users, the responses to the film on Twitter have been overwhelmingly positive and favorable. Dissenters may try and minimize the film, but the fact is that the film did win three awards, and, for better or for worse, it is trending on Netflix, and like it or not, people are talking about it. The ongoing tweetstorm and the effect this film is already having on Americans is simply undeniable. Readers can check out tweet responses to American Circumcision on their timeline shared below. (Scroll to the bottom of this post.)

Some have responded with the effect of "I started watching it but I had to turn it off because it was ridiculous." Or "I don't see what the big deal is."

At this point, Americans watching the film have got two choices; acknowledge the truth, or keep denying while the rest of the country wakes up. They have the option to turn off the video and watch something else. People can only hide from the truth and feign ignorance for so long though.

You can lead a man to knowledge but you can't make him think.
~Unknown

"Three things cannot be long hidden the sun the moon and the truth."~Attributed to the Buddha
"After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more"
~Morpheus, The Matrix



Where is American Circumcision available for viewing?
In addition to Netflix, American Circumcision is also available at iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, Vimeo, Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Comcast, Spectrum, DirectTV, Dish Network, Verizon FIOS, Frontier, SuddenLink, Media com, Wow, EastlinkTV, Shaw, Telus, Bakers & Taylor, Alliance Entertainment and Midwest Tape.

If you haven't already, watch the film and post your own reaction @circmovie on Twitter!

Relevant Posts:
Circumcision Documentary Making Waves on Netflix, Twitter

American Circumcision: A Reaction to a Documentary on Circumcision in America

"American Circumcision" Wins Best Documentary Film Award at the Lone Star Film Festival