Committee Work from Issue 96
The football players,
when accused of raping
the drunk girl, said she
had approached them,
pulled their pants down
and sucked their penises
into her mouth.
One claimed he was unable
to achieve an erection
despite her efforts.
Another felt inappropriate,
zipped up, and walked out.
One was seen behind her
with his pants down,
but none could say
whose fluids were found
in her vagina
or her underwear or her ass,
and the school had no interest
in DNA. The committee
closed the case, and
the football players went on
to an undefeated season,
trampling team after team.
They ran joyfully,
faster than the opposition,
faster even than all
the drunk girls who rush
to their knees, who bend over
pool tables and couches,
no longer content
to just ask for it,
no, those bitches
reach out to take it.
Severence from Issue 87
I’m one of those men,
he told me with a crooked
little smile, and reached gingerly
across the space between us.
Men you read about
in history books, he said
as his right hand, the hand
with one finger gone AWOL,
vanished into the darkness
up my skirt and crept beyond
the flimsy barrier of my underwear.
It was twenty years ago. I was nineteen.
Like you are now. I nodded
and pressed firmly against his touch
trying to figure
which part of him I felt.
Whether it was a finger he still had
or the one he’d lost
that slipped inside me.
When I got back, he said,
I didn’t tell anyone.
Just smoked opium in some hotel,
bought myself a fur coat.
I felt like goddamn Jim Morrison.
I felt like. He paused, shifted
to where he could reach me
better. Like what I was.
A man who killed women and children.
Fucking infants, I’m telling you.
He halted there, to see that he had me
at attention, and said, I killed with pleasure
whatever I could. I cried out
at that but was by then
too far to pull back
and shuddered helplessly
against his maimed hand.
Sure then that what I felt
was the part of him
Sending Underwear to Prison from Issue 87
Giving birth to the baby of her john,
your mother hadn’t time to consider
whether cloth would be better or disposable.
Or to think when you cried
that the baby wipes might be too drying.
She had instead to worry
would her pimp pull the trigger
when he put his gun to your wailing
head and said, “Shut this child up
or I’ll do it for you.” Which caused her
to wonder whether liquor or heroin
might calm a baby quicker, and when nothing worked
to hand you over to the state.
To get at your rage, to strip away
your smiling face and understand how you killed
a man for touching you between the legs,
you have to go back to that baby,
the whole world chafing, each day
dragged over him like slivered glass.
So that when I shop for your clothes now
I choose your underwear most carefully,
reaching in the top to see how they’ll feel
from the inside. I only send the softest
underwear to prison, to the hard, hard place
you live. I’m going back to teach you tenderness
the way a baby learns it, through the skin.