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"Response to Nikki Giovanni’s 'Crutches'" by Beth Mulcahy

she said women aren’t allowed to need but

we aren’t supposed to be strong either

so we develop

self-destructive rituals men call

emotional problems

the only problem i developed was from needing

too much and packing

in a buzz to blur

my disappointment

i touch my female lovers all the time when

i hold their sobbing bodies and

dry their tears shed because

they’re disappointed from

needing some man too much

i hold her hand because

i need to hold someone who

understands me

i think it might be impossible to

shut off one emotion without

shutting them all


it is too much to expect to be able to give without expecting anything in return

maybe we aren’t allowed to need but

Beth Mulcahy (she/her), a Gen X-er from Michigan, lives in Ohio with her husband, two kids and loyal Havanese dog sidekick. Beth works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. She writes poetry, fiction, memoir, and dreams about visiting Scotland. Her work has appeared in various journals and she has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Check out her latest publications at


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