Lesser Jewels by Shutta Crum

Lesser Jewels

Not diamond, ruby, or emerald.
We were the lesser stars of the firmament—
cloudy topaz, crazed quartz, chipped garnet.

We were the door-slamming, Up-yours!
The mouthy girl enigmas.
All long-legs, bared midriffs. Skirts hiked.

Not cheerleaders, nor scholars.
Not Future Homemakers of America.
We were the rough cuts—

the backseat business
in the fields behind the school.
The semi-precious

dancing in the headlights,
our bodies tripwire and baited spark.
Wild-haired, breasty.

The ones tonguing boys. The teasers.
Hoots and hollers the polish
of an immortality we could almost touch,

a possibility of luster.
We were the pretenders
shoving hurt into overstuffed lockers,

faux leather purses—faux smiles.
Revelers in a second-hand radiance—
everything we had, already used

by the richer, purer, more refined.
By the flawless jewels.
But we could strut hand-me-downs,

smile a Thank you! and a Fuck-off!
at the same time,
while shoplifting what we wanted—

even if it was base metal. Even if it tarnished.
We were lesser jewels. But in the right light—
my God! What brilliance.

by Shutta Crum, first published in Boulevard Magazine

Twitter: @Shutta
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShuttaCrum

Editor’s Note: This poem’s clever allegory never veers into sentimentality, but by the last few lines, the reader is fully convinced of brilliance.


13 responses to “Lesser Jewels by Shutta Crum”

  1. Shutta Crum Avatar
    Shutta Crum

    Thank you so much for choosing my poem to highlight!

  2. Ralph Culver Avatar

    Love the spunkiness of this poem! Excellent.

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Thank you!

  3. Michelle Meyer Avatar

    This is such a victory poem! The editor’s note says it all. Brilliance…

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Thank you! Yes, it’s a victory.

  4. Lucie Winborne Avatar

    Reminds me a bit of the work of Patricia Smith.

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Wow! Thanks.

  5. Sydney Lea Avatar

    Brilliant. Properly sassy…which is to say rightly defiant! Funny how so many of those “fast” girls of my youth became successful in so many ways. Thanks for this one!

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Hah! I often think of several of them. Thank you.

  6. Bob Bradshaw Avatar
    Bob Bradshaw

    What a fun poem! A great narrative voice…. Kudos!

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Thanks! Glad you liked it. Here’s to raising voices.

  7. Annis Cassells Avatar

    Wonderful poem! The story of so many of us. Thank you.

    1. Shutta Crum Avatar
      Shutta Crum

      Thank you!

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