A video of Jerrica’s live performance of The Machine is presented below.

The Machine

Jerrica Escoto


When she walks in cadence
she’s careful to not sway her hips
Heaven forbid they make her out of formation

She fights wars within wars
She knows the camouflage won’t hide her completely so

She bandages her breasts to look like theirs
Maybe it’ll help them to stop looking
Maybe removing purple mountains of majesty off her chest
Will start slowing the stares down

If you ask her what it means to be a woman
She will unhook the heels off her combat boots and tell you
It’s like clothing
She says it’s everyone’s favorite outfit but hers
She says it’s uncomfortable
Out of season
Most days her clothes feel like a big disco ball
She doesn’t stay put
She travels around the room
Her wholeness separated into tiny identities

As she avoids cat calls to her left, left, left, right, left
The hairs on her neck standing at attention
They told her she’d be amongst the few, the proud
They should’ve told her there would only be pride in few
That she agreed to stand forefront in a war outside of our own country’s

This is the war of gender
The war of patriarchy
The war of the unconscious

How do we even have a right to invade other countries
When our own women are still fighting to protect their own borders?

This isn’t even about America anymore
This is about the “No’s” we stopped listening to
For the times we said “Yes” to war instead of to our women
For the dirty whispers of “at ease” in their ears

How could she have known that
There is a machine
Spitting out weapons of mass destruction in the form of human beings
They all walk amongst us
Resembling post apocalyptic zombies
They have a clipboard and pen with promises of good intentions
But she never thought to ask for a job description

So she continues to fight wars within wars
Keeps the sunshine in her lungs
Holds her breath during the day
And breathes out light

But only
When she
Is alone

Being all that she can be.