i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.
this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.
my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.
but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.
but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…
and sometimes i still
if a woman cries rape and police don’t respond,
does the crime make a sound?
a drum beat,
a rushed “Psssttttt!”
a ghetto “Ay yooooooooo!”
a catching of breath,
or leaky faucet “drip-drop”?
does the clock even let out a “tick-tock”
or does time just stop
when a woman’s rights are denied?
with no batteries changed in the watch,
the year could be 5 B.C., 1964, or 2011.
does an angel cry in heaven?
does God send down thunder and rain,
or does he console her quietly through her pain?
is there even a sigh,
a Holy Ghost-filled prayer,
an explosion of violence?
or just silence?
am i mad?
why do you ask?
think i am
but not mad,
just a little
in the head.
what really happened?
went on a couple dates
and now i’m
but it’s summer.
why am i so cold?
it’s hot in here
but i’m shivering.
i can’t believe
what just took place.
you invaded my space,
took advantage of my weakness and forced yourself upon me
like i was a pair of tight shoes
or a seat on a crowded bus.
you squeezed into my crevices and corners
and i’m sitting here cold
cuz i thought
you were a gentleman.
i used to be so afraid of you, man.
my biggest fear for so long
was running into you on a dark street,
alone and scared with no one to help me
and no options of what to do;
that i would be forced to be victim once more
to the fleeting whims
you love to succumb to.
but you looked so weak–
more like a house mouse than a dirty rat,
more afraid of me than i am of you.
as you stood staring at me, i smelled that
fear was seeping out of your pores
and your pheromones filled the air,
and just like how you treated me–
but they gave me strength to continue
to stand taller
and feel stronger
as you stared at the woman whose life you ruined
for a little while but whose smile
now lives on.
i have become superhuman.
i am stretching back to the size
i’m supposed to be in this world,
reclaiming my territory
that you so selfishly stole,
and now you have no control.
what you did
has no control.
the pain you caused
has no control.
growing my strength and power
is my ultimate goal
and i am closer to it now
more than ever.
i’ve fantasized for many days and nights
of the different ways i could end your life,
but now i laugh at you.
you thought you would ruin me,
tried to take the best of me,
but now if finally see
that God was just preparing me.
where i’m going
i gotta have my powers to know
that whatever blow comes my way,
i’m meant to feel the pain today
so that i can see tomorrow clearly.
tomorrow, i will look at the scars of tears and sorrow
and not repeat the mistakes of yesterday
but fly away without looking back.
thank you for helping me
sprout wings on my back.
you ruined nature for me.
when we met,
it was the beginning of spring
when the rain smelled sweet
and the daytime breeze was something else…
i released breath with the same synchronicity
as the sun beaming and the birds singing.
and then when it was storming!
no one sent me a warning
that mother nature would be raped.
months later, as the leaves change colors and die
and the Fahrenheit scales are no longer high,
i walk outside and the sky is gray,
cold is the sweetheart of rain,
the flowers aren’t even bright
and five o’clock holds hands with the darkness of night
and i still can’t believe
that you ruined nature for me.
i climbed into a hollowed-out sideways tree
that was like a cubby hole in the children’s library
and finally i felt like i could breathe.
confined by rough bark and mud all around me,
i saw the beauty
of creations that are unaffected by my emotional hurricanes.
they weather storms because life is part of the forecast
and i could learn a lesson or two
from that philosophy.
you didn’t actually ruin nature for me,
but instead helped see its resiliency
which provides for me
an example for me of natural beauty
that accompanies strength and willpower.
April showers didn’t bring May flowers,
but instead hours upon hours of pain
that transformed into days
which have now become months .
i want to be free like the trees
that i now see differently–
change colors like the leaves
and blow wherever the wind takes me,
lighthearted and free
despite what you did to me.
she brandished a gun without fear.
fear had fallen out her bedroom window while
reaching out and grabbing for her trust of humanity.
so now she relished in the feel of cold steel.
it warmed up the steam coming out of her ears
and the fire that burned in her heart.
now was the time for revenge…
prescription pills could never give her this feeling.
unanswered prayers could never provide the healing
that she so desperately looked for
so shakingly she knocked at the door,
brandishing a gun without fear.
she no longer cared,
she was no longer scared,
no longer normal.
whatever normal means was erased by her rape.
now was the time for revenge…
time to claim what was lost,
time for this segment of her saga to end.
she was no longer a victim but victimizer,
no longer the controlled but the controller,
no longer lost but herself like God with plans
because here at this moment, she had life in her hands.
“Funny how the tables turn,” she chuckled
as she turned toward the man
who had stolen her future without knowing.
she laughed some more at the tear running down his right eye,
elated that his true coward colors were showing.
now was the time for revenge…
she brandished a gun without fear finally feeling
like she was achieving her freedom.
her finger on the trigger trembled from excitement
of actually having a chance to fight back,
but when she finally pulled back,
all she heard was “CLICK!”
and then the beeping of an alarm clock
and a feeling in her belly that made her sick.
dreams of killing were the only thing
that satisfied her desire for winning back what was taken.
she couldn’t do it in real life
and she hoped that in her dreams she might
carry out the bloody plan that played over and over in her head,
but here she is lying in bed,
still subject to screams of silence
and inward anger growing more intense
and the aftermath of life events
that leave her tortured, tense
and truly terrified of tomorrow.
she brandishes her nightmares with fear.
she brandishes her life with fear,
there is no real time for revenge.
she didn’t want to be the cause of
another black man goin to jail.
“my men have come from such a tough journey.
have been taken from them
and they have been stripped
of their masculinity.”
“he is a victim.
i don’t want to be another factor.”
now i can understand
where this woman is comin from cuz by all means,
black men have not had it easy
as i stared in the mirror
at her scratching her stress-caused hives,
observed her fidgety movements, how she
even though it was warm outside
and saw tears welling up in her eyes
that she refused to cry,
i begged her,
to think of herself,
to consider her mental health
and the effects
of not speaking up.
i asked her
if she wanted to continue to cry in fits
and pray for the end of her own existence,
if she wanted to live in fear of re-experiencing this brutal sin
or be so afraid of men
that even gentle touch made her cringe
and she was silent.
she couldn’t think straight.
she couldn’t breathe
but she mustered up enough courage to see
that even though she didn’t want to be the cause
of another black man goin to jail,
she could no longer stand
the heatstrokes and dehydration from living in hell.
she felt bad
because he is a victim
but she had to admit that she was a victim
and that if she didn’t speak out,
the victim she tried to love
could potentially create a mass of new victims
who like her
were terrified to tell
because they didn’t want to be the cause
of another black man goin to jail.