‘Protecting Women,’ a found poem, Aisle 7, Walgreens

feminine-hygiene-product-manufacturingThis is one of my favorite performance pieces, and while I haven’t performed it in a while, my daughter Riana and I were in Walgreen’s recently, and it came to mind, so I pulled it out, and thought I’d share.

Imagine me on a stage, wearing a pink pussy hat, of course. There would be a bit of editorializing sprinkled in while I breathlessly rattle these lines, some dramatic pauses, and maybe some pointing.

For now, here is a poetic litany of the marketing and content, certainly a billion dollar industry, supported by mostly men, all towards the effort of sanitizing women, all of us, all in one little poem. Enjoy!

All the Protection You Need
A Found Poem: Aisle 7, Walgreens

The cycle.

We are protected from our cycle, from our flow, from our syndromes, our pain, our discomfort, our discharge, our blood and
from our surprises.

We are protected with dryness, with superior dryness, with extra heavy absorbency
and rapid absorption that we can count on for up to 12 hours.

We are protected in seconds, any time, on the go, all days, all ways
and after sexual intercourse.

We are protected with rags, pads, napkins, shields, liners, plugs, portables, tampons, wings, flexi-wings, gentle glides, plastic applicators, recyclable applicators, biodegradable and flushable products, and
with gentle elastic sides.

The flow.

We are protected from our flows, from our light flows, our lights days, our heavy flows, our heavy days, night time flows, unexpected flows, and
from our minor discharge.

We are protected from our flows with ultras, with regulars, with maxis, with thins, ultra longs, long regulars, heavies, extra heavies, super heavies, super heavy longs, overnights, end-to-end adhesives, and where we need the most protection:
from side leakage.

We are protected from our symptoms, from our tender breasts, from our bloating, from our aching, our cramping, our “stronger than usual menstrual” cramping, our mood changes and the emotional swings all related to pre-menstrual syndrome.

The symptoms.

We are protected from our symptoms. Protected with medication that makes us dizzy, cross-eyed, sleepy, unable to drive, that doesn’t work well with alcohol, prescription drugs or if we’re on other tranquilizers.

The smell.

We are protected from smelling.

We are protected with nozzles, with easy angle flexible necks that make insertion easier if we insert gently — no more than 3 inches — don’t force the nozzle, sit on a toilet, and we are protected
if we are careful
not to close
our vaginas.

We are protected from the residue of contraceptive jellies or creams, leftover vaginal medication, minor discharge, mid-month discharge, major discharge, and again,
after sexual intercourse

The residue.

We are protected from residue and discharge. We are protected with deodorant, with hygiene, with sanitation, odor elimination, with clean feelings, fresh feelings, refreshed feelings, neutralized odor (not just covered up), personal cleansing cloths, sanitary wipes, feminine wipes and seven different clean fresh scents:
including vinegar and water.

The blood.

We are protected from our blood.

We are protected from our blood with HOSPITAL size pads, with quilted pads; with cotton, rayon, Polypropylene, polyester, silk-like, dri-silk, fresh weave, and dri-weave pads, pads with cotton-like top sheets, pads with cottony covers, pads that are contoured for comfort , pads that have fast absorbing pores, pads with special rolled design and
pads that channel our moisture away.

We are protected from our bodies, from ourselves.
Walgreens, where the military of “clean” awaits us.

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