past imperfect, present imperative

for all of them

If she were cut,

if those had been  knives
and not penises
penetrating,

if those were bruises
and not black magic marker
scrawling who was there
on her tits
as if she wore a wall
for graffiti
and not skin,

if they had painted her
with anything but sperm
she would not be called slut
but survivor, and no-one
would take pictures on cell phones
for bragging rights;

then this would not be rape
but the cleanness of murder,
the purity of sacrifice,
and nobody asks for that:
no matter what they wear,
no matter what they drink,
no matter if no was spoken
if she were awake to say it,

but that word has the weight
and strength of feathers
falling; and she,
bare of everything
but pin-feathers
carries the shame

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to past imperfect, present imperative

  1. tragically true, Susan, tragic

  2. yeoldefoole says:

    and it makes me ANGRY!
    a great work – would that there were no need!

  3. BroadBlogs says:

    So sad when shame is so often attached to the rape victim instead of to the rapist — who is too busy bragging about his abuse via text or social media.

    I’m glad my blog could be your muse once again: http://broadblogs.com/2013/04/19/when-rapists-are-heroes/

  4. davidtrudel says:

    It is so very difficult to approach issues like this poetically and you have done so with strength and grace. This is a global issue of entrenched patriarchy that needs to be addressed and changed.

  5. Ray Sharp says:

    yes, you were right on target

  6. strong, powerful and angry, and understandably so. The violation, the humiliation and the often inculpation of the victim. A crying shame. will this change or arw women forever condemned to a future indefinite and improbable on such a painful issue?

    • Noel, thank you. I honestly don’t know how to answer that. I am honestly shocked every time I see/hear evidence that some people still think rape is a crime in which the victim is sometimes complicit. We have lost too many young women to this.

  7. This was difficult to read. But beautiful at the same time. Thank you for writing it. I believe that things will change for the majority but that the process will be slower than any of us can believe.

  8. can’t like, can’t express, too close to home

  9. jeglatter says:

    Powerful, powerful, powerful. And perfect! Thank you for giving your voice to it.
    -Jennifer

  10. I’m not sure but I think i know to what you’re referring. Truly horrible, truly shaming. shaming to the perpetrators. Not her. But she’ll feel forever shamed.

  11. The power and bluntness of your words say it all, Susan. When will they learn to take no for no? Now, it is the dresses or clothes the women wear that make them targets. Bulls! What then do they say to those who defile little girls? A case of insanity or mental problems or perversion? I’m getting angry already. But hei, it’s a man world at least here and they are in the majority in all the ‘right places’ I say no more.

    • It is a man’s world everywhere, still. They just hide it better here. I hope someday, for the sake of our daughters (and sons too) it becomes everyone’s world.

  12. seekingmeme says:

    As a survivor (I refuse to continue to call myself a victim any longer), I thank you for the power of your words. Knowing that there are people who don’t blame victims and are willing to publicly say so helps me take one more step in the healing process. Thank you, Susan. Thank you.

    • Know what? I need to change that from victim to survivor. Thank you for your bravery in sharing that with me.

      • seekingmeme says:

        It took me a LONG time (and a couple of really good therapists) to make that shift in my thinking. I have come to believe that part of why I’m still hear is to help break the silence and shame of others who have lived through similar circumstances. The more we can speak openly about rape, abuse, etc., the more the shame can be diminished.

        • I agree, and I don’t understand our mindset that allows rape survivors to feel shame. If we were robbed, mugged, shot at, etc., there would be no shame expected from or expressed by those hurt by those acts. That rape mimics our most intimate giving moments and perverts them is horrific. There should be no shame. Dammit, I want to shout it. Then again, just because there should be no shame does not mean it does not exist, or prevent people from attacking the survivor all over again.

  13. too real, nothing is left to uncover at the individuals pace~ I’m not drawn to Langston’s type of writing but, you certainly have great ability to mold, carve and fire the whole of an incident[s].

  14. ginaorlandi says:

    Wow, this is so powerful. It’s so horrible that this is such a huge problem in our society.

  15. nelle says:

    Part of me wishes to say too many incidents *now*, as if this is a new phenomenon trending. It is in fact ancient, rooted into cultures worldwide, and at last we have means to expose it to air and light. The stench is horrific, the reality heartbreaking.

  16. rheath40 says:

    None of it matters. Not what she wore, drank, said or danced to. She did not deserve to be raped. They were not good boys that hurt her. They were malicious and violent heathens. They were evil and believed they were above the law. Of the land and man.

  17. Shally says:

    This is so lovely and true.

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