Assault, Ad Nauseum

the rape, ironically

was only the beginning

of the assaults

those penetrating moments

intoxication blurred

splattered a visceral montage

burned into retina

tattooed onto neurons

imprinted, lacerating, into cell fibers

they lurk, Lochness monsters

beneath the surface

drag her

gulping mouthfuls of horror

suffocating

in the undertow

now and then

the soundtrack

needle on the record

needle on the record

needle on the record

is the aftermath

the boyfriend

who responds to her question

(early morning shocked and hungover)

“Is it rape if you’re too drunk to make them stop?”

with “just go to work” instructions

(ever the worker bee, she showers,

goes to work, where the assailant awaits)

followed, in subsequent days

with an impossible dichotomy

endorse retribution

or acknowledge consent

relationship ends

self-doubt persists

the girlfriends

evening following

whose helpful solution

to repeated blurting

of her reality

is well-schooled

good girl avoidance

“let’s go get drunk”

as her torment

slices too close to the bone

of experiences

they pretended away

the nurse

emergency room jaded

steri-stripped of empathy

whose face banged the gavel

when indoctrinated Catholicism

spoke in her voice

refusing morning after pills

the detective

whose investigative strategies

consisted of assigning blame

to wayward vaginas

that frighten him for his daughter

(her age, he emphasizes)

despite his assiduous

applications of guilted

chastity belts

while enshrining the statement

“consensual”

of the other

the prosecutor

(months delayed,

read persistent self-advocacy)

who dropped preparation

in favor of lunch

blindsided her

before the grand jury

referencing nonexistent conversation

automatic pilot kicks in

appeasing, she nods assent

another helpful helper noted

forever fuming

her voicelessness

in the aftermath

 

Best When Used By

it is written in invisible ink

etched profoundly

upon this cobwebbing

that ensnares us

sticks clinging

unwipeawayable

to lips, eyes and limbs

these connecting strands

that adhered to us

as we walked unaware

through a day in our lives

there is an expiration date

it’s blurry through my tears

and got smeared in the writhing

of our repeated intertwining

we don’t know what it is

yet we both know it’s there

we can see it

flickering firefly

in the moonlight

it shows

when the black light

of my heart

shines

 

(image: Erte)

Snake in a Can

coiled deep

within her cells

lie dormant serpents

seething sensory snippets

of the past

in inopportune moments

unseen approach

innocuous but unexpected

ring of a phone

the snake strikes

bursting from her chest

in darting heart

and thrashing breath

she laughs off

her shocking jump

reassuring startled colleagues

she is tightly tethered

to sanity and reality

 

(art: Johann Ulrich Krauss)

Letting Go

with the effort of one thousand yeomen

I prise the wilted tendrils of ether

from my clenched and clammy hands

having longed with a furor near delirium

for enchantment

for silver-spun magical threads

love strung by iridescent fairies

I grasped at shifting shadows

clung to drifting feathers with ferocity

in my feverish clutch

wings of paradise crumbled

celestial ballad faded

with herculean strength

I open my cramped fingers

release frayed beauty

wishing upon my fallen star-self

Phoenix-like, after the inferno

captivation, free, may re-birth

 

 

Crestfallen

riding the crest of a moment of power

I crash facefirst into the trough

choking on salt-water spray

self-generated

I scrabble upon the shore

gasping

scraped upon the grit

resurgent in pounding grief

tonight will not be the night

I control the storm

pulse lightening from my fingertips

I survey the shipwreck

knowing I was

not the captain

tonight survival is power

 

Possessions

demons

disguise themselves masterfully

competing for honors at Carnival

cherubic and beaming

they devise diabolical inducements

haloed incubi

ferret out hapless innocents

roasting over flames

display for her

their spit-turned agony

heart bursting

she inevitably

scrapes and gnaws away bindings

bloodied in the clawing

only to discover

scorched limbs

-possessed by parallel demons-

refuse release

panic-stricken

she covers their charred skins

protective

curling herself around

melting flesh

having not yet

met her own demise

but carrying scars

in incinerated futures

this time

she catches a whiff

of smoked hopes

amongst fiendish enticements

does not abandon

smoldering victims

of their own monsters

slashes at ties

cajoles unprising

from frozen captive

when inferno rages

unremitting

martyr remains

unwitting

she lets go

blisters rise

over heart and dermis

looks her demons

in their glowing eyes