They Can’t Have Me
(by Barefoot Justine)


No, you will never be an artist,
No, you must stop daydream doodling,
No, you do not have “it,”
No, you must study algebra,
No, you can’t have me.


Choose between the Beatles and Christ,
In church they made it clear,
I left them to their holy guilt,
Followed joy and walked away,
The church could not have me.

Endless waves of bullies came and come,
Molesting, degrading, hating,
From Beatings to bullshit,
From chuckled threats to scars,
They could not and can not have me.


“Duran Duran, Judas Priest, and Loverboy,
Are better than the Beatles,” or so they said,
Knowing better, I shook my head and waited,
“We’ll talk in 20 years, we’ll talk in 20 years…”
Teenybop eighties pop quarrels could not have my Beatles.

“Crucify yourself to a VW Beetle in the name of art,
Now that is genius,” in college they cried,
And shoved me through the Postmodern prison,
Where foolishness and spite masquerade as Art with a capital A,
I laughed, they could not brainwash me.

Even my body so ill-fitted and wrong,
Deep inside a seed waited to become,
Beauty, joy, and freedom,
Suffocating in a river of Black Velvet,
So nearly did it have me.

In place of the budding seed cancer grew,
Diagnosis, dread, surgery and radiation
A tumor of whiskey river despair,
Epiphany encased in disease,
Even cancer could not have me.

Crystal coral waves pulled me under,
Deep in the waters of Thailand,
I surfaced, no boat, no air,
Leaking, keeping afloat and fighting,
Even the waters of Thailand could not have me.

Whiskey tears and distraction,
Shove-it-down, forever hiding,
Scapegoat divorce and bankrupt heartaches,
Thrice I crossed the bridge where Andy jumped,
Not even Andy’s bridge could have me.

Enough! Emerge, blossom, become,
He died so that I might live,
From ashes I rose like a Phoenix,
I thrived and survived,
This body could not deny me.

One came to molest me… again,
To grope and degrade me publicly,
My hands, his skull, cinder block wall,
Violent and strong, I delighted,
He could not have me.

Come at me if you wish,
Come at me with grins and ignorance,
Come at me with threats and ugliness bilious,
Come, and I will show your skull to the wall,
Not a man among them can have me.


Judge and jury, monoliths of misconceptions,
To me they come with misguided certainty,
To kick me out, convinced to perfection,
Armed with paranoia and phantom laws,
Which cannot hold me.

Gainesville’s CFOP, the Top, and Chopstix Cafe,
Kick me out and have your way right or wrong,
Tell me I need shoes… I do not, and I do not need you,
Kick me out, I am barefoot STILL,
Have your way, but you can’t have me.

You who deny me are groundless rules and ignorance,
Lies, bullies and bullshit,
You have the world to believe you…
But I am a force of nature and bearer of release,
And you can NOT have me.

Alternative bands and fashion,
Subculture kids conformed through fear to pragmatism,
Tight in little boxes made by other men,
They can have their boxes, bands and clothing,
But they could never hold me.

I am barefoot, I am Justine,
I am free to know who I am,
I will not live in any boxes,
I will not become as them,
No hardcore or Hippie box can keep me.

They can kick me out, but cannot have me,
They can deny my gender, but cannot have me,
They can invent what rules they choose,
Abuse and bully,
But they can’t have me.

Do I scare you, my friend?
Make you weary and uncomfortable,
Am I too intense and my heart too open?
So you do not want me… so it is,
Fine, but you can’t have me.

Why Barefoot Justine Is So Scared (crop)

Why Barefoot Justine Is So Scared (crop)

Call me “sir,” call me “he” and “they,”
Deny me the simple dignity others know,
Deny that I am a woman,
Deny me my humanity,
But none among you can have me.

Deny me care, deny me cash,
Deny me work, deny me marriage,
Deny my gender, deny me barefoot freedom,
Deny all truth for profit,
You cannot deny me.

I am a force of nature,
I am freedom and a dream come true,
I am barefoot,
I am a woman,
Never once did they have me.

On my mirror are these simple words,
On my door as I pass,
A reminder that,
To thine own self be true,
“They can’t have me!”

(I like poems that rhyme and have meter, this is not a poem, this is a declaration of renunciation.)

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