Claire Braz-Valentine

Read at In Celebration of the Muse, Cabrillo College, California, March 2002.

On January 28, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft, announced that he spent $8000 of taxpayer’s money for drapes to cover up the exposed breast of The Spirit of Justice, an 18-ft. aluminum statue of a woman that stands in the Hall of Justice.

John, John, John,
you’ve got your priorities all wrong.
While men fly airplanes into skyscrapers,
dive bomb the pentagon,
while they stick explosives into their shoes,
and then book a seat right next to us,
while they hide knives in their luggage,
steal kids on school buses,
take little girls from their beds at night
drive trucks into our state capital buildings,
while our president calls dangerous men all over the world
evildoers and devils,
while we live in the threat of biological warfare
nuclear destruction,
you are out buying yardage
to save Americans
from the appalling
alarming, abominable
aluminum alloy of evil,
that terrible ten foot tin tittie.
You might not be able to find Bin Laden
But you sure as hell found the hooter in the hall of justice.

It’s not that we aren’t grateful
But while we were begging the women of Afghanistan
to not cover up their faces,
you are begging your staff members to
just cover up that nipple,
to save the American people
from that monstrous metal mammary.
How can we ever thank you?

So, in your office every morning,
in your secret prayer meeting,
while an American woman is sexually assaulted every 6 seconds,
while anthrax floats around the post office,
and settles in the chest of senior citizens,
you’ve got another chest on your mind.
While American sons arrive home in body bags
and  heat seeking missiles,
fly around a foreign country,
looking for any warm body,
you think of another body.
And you pray for the biggest bra in the world John,
because you see that breast on the spirit of justice
in the spirit of your
own inhibited sexuality.
And when we women see
our grandmothers, our mothers, our daughters, our granddaughters,
our sisters, ourselves,
when we women see that
statue the spirit of justice
we see the spirit of strength
the spirit of survival.
While every day
we view innocent bodies dragged out of rubble
and women and children  laid out
like thin limp dolls
and baptized into death as collateral damage,
and the hollow eyed Afghani mother’s milk has dried
up underneath her burka,
in famine, in shame,
and her children are dead  at her breast.

While you  look at that breast John,
that jug on the spirit of justice,
and deal with your thoughts of lust,
and sex, and nakedness,
we see it as a testimony motherhood,
And you see it as a tit.

It’s not the money it cost.
It’s the message you send.
We’ve got the right to live in freedom.
We got the right to cheat Americans out
of millions of dollars and then
just not want to tell congress about it.
We’ve got the right
to drop bombs night and day
on a small country that has no army,
no navy, no military at all,
because we’ve got the right to bear arms
but we just better not even think
about not the right to bare breasts.
So now John, you can be photographed
while you stand there and talk about
guns,and bombs, and poisons,
without the breast appearing over your right shoulder,
without that  bodacious bosom bothering you,
and we just wanted to tell you,
in the spirit of justice,
in the spirit of truth,
there is still one very big boob left standing there in that picture.

Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.
© 2002 Claire Braz-Valentine • All Rights Reserved

Claire Braz-Valentine is a widely published, award-winning and internationally produced poet, playwright, and journalist. She has worked with youths at risk and incarcerated adults and teenagers for many years. She is one of a few writers who are approved to work in maximum security prisons in the state of California. Claire also teaches play-writing for the Unverisity of California Extension. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for Humanities, the California Arts Council, The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, and The Puffin Foundation. Her plays include WHEN WILL I DANCE, THIS ONE THING I DO, BLUE SKIES FOREVER, ASHES, WOMEN BEHIND THE WALLS, LISTEN TO OUR VOICES. Claire's poetry has been published in numerous anthologies, including Women of The 14th Moon, The Crossing Press; Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, The Crossing Press; In Celebration of The Muse, M Press; On Women Turning 50, Harper Collins.

Her website is:



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