Responsibility By Zoe Canner


after Grace Paley

It is the responsibility of the earth to be in motion
it is the responsibility of the woman to remain
alive / it is the responsibility of human nature to

remember &remind / it is the responsibility of the
privileged to take our easy-to-believe asses &say
for fucks / say for fucks / mate / this train is

moving on / this train is moving forward / we will
not go back / we will not go back / we will not go
back / women / two spirit / trans / nb’s / poc

indigenous / neuro-divergent / disabled / we will
not go back / have made strides / &girl / oh man
oh woman alive / oh folks alive / people alive

we have mega strides that remain for justice
but it is the responsibility / before they shoot me
down / before they pull out my organs / before

they search the house of the murdered
before they tie up my limbs / &locs / it is the
responsibility of this poet to cry out &say / we

will surely not go back / man / we will only
move forward in this life / you will not break us
have not broken us / cannot break us / cannot

colonize our souls / our bread / our corn / our
sons / our daughters / our children / &the night
you cannot colonize the moon / tho you can

advertise on spaceships / you cannot win back
our minds / we are awake / we are not going
anywhere / we are wide wide open / &on the side

of right / on this side of justice / we will not
go back to hangers / we will not go back to
hangings / we will not go back to hiding in

attics / we will not go back to picking cotton
to railroad work / to internment camps / we will
not go back to dying in the desert crossing

human-made borders for a better life / we will
not go back to accepting slick stereotypes
centering the comfort of the long-time comforted

we will not go back underground / we will not
go back to pretending we are smaller than we are
we will take up space / we will laugh heartily

we have staying power / we heal / we borrow
you say / this is my world &you are just living
in it / well / buddy-oh / this is our world / too

&we will not go back in the closet / we will not
fall into ourselves &over ourselves to put your
comfort over our lives / you don’t set the

normal anymore / we will not go back to
apologizing for your mistakes / inactions
carelessness / we will not go back to cowering

&sinking so you can prop yourselves up on
our backs / we will not go back to hearing
you take credit for our decency / brightness

compassion / loyalty / jokes / ideas
temperament / bodies / you’re either with us or
you forget yourself / this country is still full of

hope / in a world of female genital mutilation
so-called settlements in the west bank / what
i call / apartheid / sex slavery / colonization

brainwash / child slave labor / censorship
ours is full of hope / always has been full
of hope / &that’s not saying much / but it’s

saying enough where i can hold my head
up high / &say / no matter who is a / judge
there is only our strength / our numbers

our heart / our grace / our legacy / our arc
&it is bending / man / it is bending
judge / it is bending / nb / it is bending

sweet / sweet / woman / we will not
kill / &we will not sleep on freedom
& w e / w i l l / n o t / g o / b a c k

By Zoe Canner


Zoe Canner’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Arcturus of the Chicago Review of Books, Naugatuck River Review, SUSAN / The Journal, Maudlin House, Occulum, Pouch, Matter, Swimming with Elephants, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Chaleur Magazine, Nailed Magazine, Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles where she indulges in hilly walks at dusk when the night-blooming jasmine is at its peak fragrance.

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