Poetry for Healing

I think I forgot to mention here that I’ve started writing poetry again–first time since high school. You can see the first three poems I’ve made public:

  1. Soul of a Poet
  2. Awakening
  3. Binary/Spectrum

April is both National Poetry Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I didn’t realize the two coincided until today. Violence against women ALWAYS bothers me, but the recent spate of occurrences plus the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that if a woman has been drinking, a man sexually assaulting her isn’t rape have really gotten under my skin.

It has also brought up some things from my past that I have been trying to work through with poetry. I realize that my experiences have all been “near-misses” so they aren’t as bad as so many women have gone through, but they still caused me trauma. These three poems are all very personal, but I want to share them in an effort to heal.

This first one is about our rape culture in general:

American Injustice

A gavel bangs
A man goes free
To ruin his potential is an impossibility.

The woman,
Lord, she was asking for it!
Didn’t you see her drinking?
And that skirt—
If she didn’t want it
She wouldn’t have worn it.

Brock Turner, Francios Momolu Khalil,
R. Kelly—hell, we have you on tape.
But in Minnesota, if she’s been drinking
It’s not rape.

Blame the victim for the crime
It’s a tale as old as time.
Even Adam blamed Eve.

Slap his hand—“boys will be boys” after all.
But she’s the one who has to live with what he’s done.
Nightmares, flashbacks—that’s her justice paid.
But he’s America’s beloved son
So let him serve no time.
God forbid he faces his crime.

She’ll remember for years to come
Her time of pain is never done.

And they wonder why we need an ERA.

This one is about how the world is so messed up that women have be grateful when men don’t rape/abuse/kill them.

Forgive Yourself

How fucked up is it
That I’m thankful
My boyfriend didn’t rape me
In the back seat of a car when I was 19?

That he understood “no?”
Even if he pressured me to go farther than I wanted?

Instead of asking for consent
He forced things to a point
Where I felt like I had to go with what he wanted.

Yet I’m grateful he showed me
A modicum of respect by
Not forcing himself on me.

He pressured me
Yet I feel the shame.
He made me feel I had no choice
Yet I still carry the guilt.
He violated me in body and spirit
(there are more ways to violate than with a penis)
Yet I am grateful it wasn’t worse.

What fucked up world do we live in
That I still carry the scars from that night
—23 years ago—
And he probably doesn’t even remember my name?

Another case of boy goes free
While girl takes the blame.

This poem is the true story of the worst night I have ever experienced. I know so many women have experienced so much worse, but this night still haunts me.

#MeToo

Drunk girl
Twenty-two
Thinks she’s hot
Knows what to do.

Meets a man
He knows the band
Their “manager,” you see.
He’s a real somebody.

She knows the band
But not this guy.
Where’s he been?
Is this a lie?

Music blasts.
She loves this song.
She thinks she danced,
But can’t recall.

Set is over.
Last call.
Time to go.

Stumble outside
The “manager” appears.
“Want to say goodbye to the band?
They’re backstage. Take my hand.”

Darkened room
She walks in first
Lock clicks
He’s blocking the door
And she is doomed.

_________

This is bad.
How many drinks you had?
Shit, shit, shit—sober up!
You can see what’s coming in your head.

Suddenly sober
You have to get out
If you don’t, you know how this turns out.

Use a trick.
Get to the door.
Or he will pin you to the floor.

Ancient instinct whispers.
It’s worth a shot.
Maybe you’ll make it
If you show him what you’ve got.

Lift your shirt
Expose your breasts
Make him think you want him.

Fumbling with his zipper
He moves away
Distracted.

Lunge for the door.
Pray your fingers
Can work the lock.

The knob turns.
Out you run,
Past your friends.

If you can get outside
It will all be alright.

There they are
Out in front
The four band members
Loading up a van.

They never were
Inside, you see.
That was just a fantasy.

A trick to get you alone,
Make you vulnerable.
After all, you were drunk,
Who would blame him for a fuck?

You would have kicked and screamed,
Lost your virginity.
But now at least
You are safe.

God was watching.
You got lucky.
You are scarred but not broken.

________________

Assault is never a victimless crime.
It leaves its marks.
They don’t fade with time.

Twenty yeas later his name is gone,
But I can still see his face.

How many other girls?
How many other nights?
Young and dumb,
But not as blessed.

I will never know
What it was that made me
Flash my breasts
–the old “if I show you mine”—
But it was just enough
to buy some time
and prevent a rape.

Lesson learned:
Never walk into a room before a man.

Because what happens there
Will be your fault.

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