News-Stained Poetry Project: It’s Okay


we judge each female body when we see it

(don’t say you don’t do it we all know

we all do it) here I am at a stoplight looking

at the woman walking her dog thinking

she’s pretty she would be pretty if her belly

was a little firmer you can tell it’s soft

by the way her t-shirt bulges like the way

my t-shirt bulges over the seatbelt

catching a glimpse of myself in the

window I am surprised I thought I was thinner

(this is a memory the ghost of me) and now

I notice two men are also watching

the woman she is pretending

it is not happening they are stopping

pointing calling they talk about

her body with each other she keeps walking

it’s hard to remember this used to happen to me

(I’m now a mother) but I did walk down the hill

on Rosemary Street men’s voices

saying looking good sugar honey sweetie so

sweet show us

your stuff I was thin and terrified the thing to do

was keep walking sometimes I’d smile a little

smile to show my tolerance

sometimes I kept my face so still

it looked like it wasn’t happening sometimes they yelled

louder sometimes I walked a tiny bit faster not too fast

the thing was to pretend it wasn’t happening

and it’s okay now if the president says pussy

it’s okay because boys will be boys girls will be

my daughter will grow up and walk on sidewalks

her body will be her shell her body will be her

downfall we will assign a number to it

her softness a space we will let

words bullet into it’s okay

baby I’m just watching you walk by

A note about “It’s Okay”: From my car window, I watched two men follow a woman down the street, catcalling and making comments about her body. This encounter spurred the poem, which helped me process my reaction to the well-known Donald Trump video and to the many comments and opinions generated by the video – and what at it all means for past, present, and future American women.

Have a news-stained poem of your own? We’d love to read it. Send submissions to

Photo credit: Nicolas Alejandro, Creative Commons, Flickr 

Kimberly O’Connor is a North Carolina native who lives in Denver, where she is the Young Writers Program Director for Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She received an MFA from the University of Maryland in 2009, where she was a winner of both the Academy of American Poetry student prize and the AWP Intro to Journals contest. She has taught creative writing and literature in middle school, high school, and college classrooms in Colorado, Maryland, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Inch, Literary Mama, Mid-American Review, Mountain Gazette, Passages North, The Southern Poetry Anthology, storySouth, Tar River Poetry, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.


  1. Kim- You absolutely nailed it. We can’t let this subject drop, and we can’t ignore a single incident. Too much, too long, too primitive, too painful. Thanks for speaking its absurdity in poetry, the most eloquent language available.

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