Charles Rammelkamp

Tina James Raises Her Voice

Joy and Iyana started it,
sent out a flier to organize
the protest at Baltimore City Hall,
about forty of us exotic dancers
there to demand our jobs back.

Other live entertainment had re-opened
after the mayor’d shut everything
because of the coronavirus,
why not adult entertainment, too?

I’ve been dancing ten years now,
but since Fantasies closed a few months ago,
I’ve had to go back to my FedEx job
just to make ends meet.
I used to make enough dancing
just two nights a week,
then be home with my kids.
Now? The schedule’s just too much
to juggle work and virtual learning.

Some of my friends’ve turned to websites
where they post nudie sex videos,
interact online with subscribers,
but that’s just not me. 

So yeah, I drove down from Pennsylvania
to protest outside City Hall,
and when Iyana called out 
through that pink megaphone,
“WHO ARE WE?”
I yelled back, 
full-throated as MLK’s Dream speech,
“STRIPPERS!”

“WHAT DO WE WANT?”

“OUR JOBS BACK!”

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