Poets for a Cause Spotlight: John Mark Green
Every month, it is my honor to feature a poet in the writing community and a cause that they feel passionate about. In doing so, my hope is that it raises awareness for a wide range of topics. It helps us all enter into a larger conversation with the goal of learning and understanding one another on a deeper level. I highly encourage you to check out our other featured poets from previous spotlights as they discuss subjects such as empowerment, trauma, mental health awareness, and chronic illness.
This month, I am featuring John Mark Green as he discusses the heartbreaking impact of domestic violence.
John Mark Green: Domestic violence and abuse is an issue that I am passionate about, and which I have explored in a number of my poems. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”
Add in verbal, mental, and emotional abuse, and we have a huge problem that is mostly hidden behind closed doors. When I write about it, I hope to encourage those who are trapped in or recovering from domestic abuse. I also want to help outsiders understand the complex dynamics which can keep abuse victims trapped in toxic relationships.
Over the years, my poem “Unstoppable” has produced a strong response from readers who have often reached out to share their own stories of escaping a private hell of abuse. I wrote “Unstoppable” for Canadian poet Christy Ann Martine, who is now my fiancée. At the time, she was trapped in a severely abusive relationship which she had not found a way to escape. As I learned what she endured on a daily basis, something happened inside me. Fueled by a combination of anger at her abuser and admiration for the incredible resilience of spirit that I saw in Christy, the poem flowed out of me in a few minute’s time, There was a huge amount of emotion behind the words, and I think people can sense that when they read it.
Christy says that “Unstoppable” helped her tap into her inner strength and find the courage to leave her abuser for good. I’m glad that it helped her and can help others too. I will continue to revisit the problem of domestic violence and abuse through my poetry, tapping into what Christy and others have shared with me about their experiences. I’m grateful I can use my writing to raise awareness about this important topic.
Domestic violence is often a silent battle that many fight alone. For John, he got to see firsthand what it did to someone that he cares deeply about. John’s writing seeks to shed light on the complex emotions that are at play while also giving people that are trapped in abusive relationships the courage to leave or find help. It also serves the purpose of helping to educate others about the complexity of domestic violence and how the solutions are not always black and white.
When reading his poem “Unstoppable,” we are given a glimpse of the emotional journey that many men and women go on when they have suffered abuse. The writing is real and raw, with an underlying message of hope for those who have experienced the trauma of a violent relationship. This poem does such a great job describing the manipulation and destructive tactics that abusers often use. But, at its core, it is a spotlight on the strength of the survivors of abuse. And for many, it may be the catalyst they need to encourage them to talk to someone and get help.
He tried to cage and contain you,
drain you of your worth.
Beat you down to nothing,
with relentless fists of words.
He tried to control and de-soul you,
but you are resilient.
Bamboo to his storm,
bending but not breaking,
now taking back your true form.
Courage building like a tsunami,
ready to lay waste
to his city of empty promises.
You will rise above his shallow ruins
like the moon in all her fullness;
free and beautiful, so luminous.
His hungry night tried to devour you,
but you made your own light
which darkness could not swallow.
He is hollow, and aimless,
but you carry life hidden within;
a seedling, growing skyward
toward the sun of better things.
His heart is salted earth,
his body a walking mausoleum.
He loves control and fears freedom,
mistaking intimidation for true power
and captivity for devotion.
Devoid of emotion, he’s dead inside,
and he wanted to bury you with him
in a graveyard of lies.
But you will rise.
You will shine.
You are so much more powerful than him.
*For further help or resources on Domestic Violence, visit https://www.thehotline.org/*