Archive for April, 2011

Speaking of Rape and Poetry

Ever known anyone who spoke about being raped?  A friend, sister, mother, daughter?

Out of those four women, according to the statistics, at least one will have had the experience.  That statistic hasn’t changed since the 1950’s when I first saw it in cold black and white. FBI government sources, plus the website CEASE chillingly assert: “One out of every three American women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime.”

Here is Can we Share a Cab? — the reality of rape.

Can we share a cab?

The ride home from the class in the Village
A request to use her phone
The long climb to the fifth floor apartment
He makes his phone call
Picks up her guitar
Sits on the bed and strums
Asks her to show him A minor
Abandons the guitar to the floor
Spirals her arms behind her back
Pins them with one large hand
Throws her back to the bed
She is screaming what are you doing?
Let me go!
His other hand undoes his pants
His hips drive bruisingly onto hers
She lunges her body hard writhing to escape
Bangs her skull on the rough stucco wall
Scraping pain dizzies her
She howls
All she can see blinking flashing fragments
He spreads her legs wide
Whispers I know you want this  baby
His forearm against her throat
She is thinking he’s done this
Many times before
As she chokes out No  No Noooo
No one to hear her on the top floor
Sobbing as he rips off her skirt
Forces her open
She flails her legs   gagging
Feels seeping blood in her matted hair
He grips her hard, pumps through her trembling
Aaahhh good one  baby    good one
He leaps up and heads for the door
Slams it behind him
She hears his footsteps down the stairs
She staggers to stand
Walks carefully to the bathroom
Locks herself in
Slowly washes the blood from her hair
What to do now
The son of a bitch  I want to kill him
Now what do I do

Lee Firestone Dunne

And if someone you know has been raped what are the chances they will speak of it and/or report it to the police?  Here is Adrienne Rich’s poem on the psychic consequences of reporting it to the police. Only 16% of rapes were reported to the police in 2010.  Rich’s poem was written in the 1970’s.


There is a cop who is both prowler and father:
he comes from your block, grew up with your brothers
had certain ideals.
You hardly know him in his boots and silver badge
on horseback, one hand touching his gun.

You hardly know him but you have to get to know him:
he has access to machinery that could kill you.
He and his stallion clop like warlords among the trash,
his ideals stand in the air, a frozen cloud
from between his unsmiling lips.

And so, when the time comes, you have to turn to him,
the maniac’s sperm still greasing your thighs,
your mind whirling like crazy. You have to confess
to him, you are guilty of the crime
of having been forced.

And you see his blue eyes, the blue eyes of all the family
whom you used to know, grow narrow and glisten,
his hand types out the details
and he wants them all
but the hysteria in your voice pleases him best.

You hardly know him but now he thinks he knows you:
he has taken down your worst moment
on a machine and filed it in a file.
He knows, or thinks he knows, how much you imagined;
he knows or thinks he knows, what you secretly wanted.

He has access to machinery that could put you away;
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
and if, in the sickening light of the precinct,
your details sound like a portrait of your confessor,
will you swallow, will you deny them, will you lie your way home?

Adrienne Rich

Margot Hurley, My Face Confronts You Every Day

Amazingly the day I decided to post these poems, I received by mail a Bridgewater State University publication with this piece of art on the cover, (paper, charcoal, adhesive 6 X 4ft,) titled My Face Confronts You Every Day, created by an art student as a response to being raped by a male student in her university art class. May this be a tribute to Margot Hurley’s artistry and courage.

I am inspired to be a part of  an event at Great Overland Bookstore  — a poetry reading this evening at 7:30.  I’ll be sharing poems from Cocktail Shaker and new work along with two other poets.