I could tell you stories, 
war stories, I guess,
because they only crop up
as flashbacks, now.

I could tell you stories
about boys and men
whose mouths and hands and bodies
didn’t understand
didn’t hear
didn’t care about
the word “no.”

I could tell you stories
until I was blue in the face,
you know, the kind of blue
one finds in bruises, 
in depression,
in drowning.

But I’m not going to.
I have before, and 
no one listened. Or,
no one cared. Or,
they cared, but 
what really can be done?


I was twelve, 
my father’s best friend
watched me in church, 
told me — more than once,
“you’re nothing but legs, 
you know that, girl?”

I was thirteen,
my 19-year-old stepbrother
beckoned me into his bedroom
in the middle of the night;
we watched a movie with a lot of sex scenes in it.
I trembled in the glow of his TV,
uncertain of how this night would end — 
nothing happened, but
I found a condom full of semen in the hallway
between our bedrooms
the next day. 
No one else was with him that night.
I haven’t been alone with him since.

I was fourteen, 
my much older cousin
sat beside me on the couch 
removed from the buzz of a family holiday;
I shifted my weight and my hip popped,
he looked at me with disgust:
“no guy is ever going to want to have sex with you
if your body makes noises like that,” he said,
with a laugh.
I apologized for the popping for years.

I was fifteen, 
my first “serious” high school boyfriend
broke up with me, via MySpace message, 
because, “your depression is
just too much.” 
Months later, I found out
he had cheated on me, steadily,
because I wouldn’t put out.
Years later, I found myself
thinking “at least he didn’t force me”
as if that gratitude was something
I actually owed him.

I was sixteen,
a family friend, State Trooper,
nearly seven feet tall & at least
300 lbs, made a rape joke.
Maybe a hundred lbs — 
soaking wet — 
I decided, amongst my family,
to voice my dissent.
No one else said anything.
He stood up, towering over me,
reminding me that I am small,
that he could crush me.
I’ve not gone to a family party
that he attended ever since.

I was seventeen,
a registered Democrat from Central Florida 
opens his door to an eager young canvasser:
me — “yes, I’ll vote again for Obama,” he confirms.
“No, I can’t volunteer, I’m too busy,” he declines.
“If you want to come in, you and I
can get busy, though, if you know what I mean,” 
he continues, and laughs.
When he finally shuts his door,
I am shaking.

I was eighteen,
a liberal politico, twice my age,
slides into my DMs — 
first to talk shop, of course,
that’s how they reel you in.
When the conversation became sexual,
I reminded him:
“you have a girlfriend,”
“I have a boyfriend,”
“you’re twice my age,”
“I don’t think of you that way,”
“no, thank you, please stop.” 
It didn’t stop until I blocked him. 
I found him again, without meaning to,
during the Week of Harvey Weinstein:
he has 10,000 Twitter followers and a wife.

For every time — and there are plenty — 
that I’ve been pinned down, groped at,
kissed against my will, raped
there are another five times
where “well-meaning, good men” 
refused to see my humanity
independent of my sexual worth
and got away with it,

So when I say #MeToo, 
do they even know 
that it’s them that I’m 
thinking of?

(Credit: Unsplash)