Poems from Berlin’s Wicked Poetry Slam: Rage

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Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

he term “date rape” was used first in 1975 in a research paper by Susan Brownmiller, and was used again in 1980 Mademoiselle magazine article, and 1982 in MS magazine, although the Miriam Webster dictionary attributes the term to enter common usage in 1984, when it appeared in the novel Money: A Suicide Note, by Martin Amis.

Leave it to a man to make it common.

Anyway, when I wrote this piece in 1992, the term was not yet in wide use. otherwise I guess I wouldn’t have been asking:

this may sound like a funny question,
but did you rape me? i know that when
i woke up you were gone, and i had no
one to ask. i remember that the last thing
i said to you was “let’s just sleep.” and then
i remember waking up and you were on top
of me and inside of me, and you got off,
and out. you were with me because i needed
a friend. i know i let you come home with me,
but i needed someone to rant and rave to,
and you offered. i know i was all dressed up,
but it was a holiday. i know i got into bed
naked with you, but it was 8:30 in the morning.
i had been up all night, doing drugs and drinking
and i could only think of getting into bed. i didn’t know
i would have to wear protective clothing. i know i let you
kiss me, and i kissed you back, but i kiss all of my friends
back. And i know — i distinctly remember —
five separate moments when I said “no.
i don’t want to have sex with you.”
The last thing I heard you say was
“it’s nicer just to hold someone,” and i closed my eyes
in trust. And then i woke up and you were on top of me
and inside of me, and i said “i really don’t want this.”
When I woke up and you were gone, i felt sick.
I was going to call you. I was going to tell you how angry
I was that you not only took advantage of me,
but you took advantage of my trust in you.
And then i wanted to forget about it. “Oh, it’s only so-and-so,”
i said to myself. And i was naked, and I did kiss you back.
And I did say “no.” Five times.
So maybe it was may fault.
Except that I said “no.” Five times. Five “No’s.”
Now my memory is on constant rewind. I wake up
and you are on top of me and inside of me, and I scream
“NO! NO! NO!”
You are gone and I want to vomit. i want to cry.
You are still here, in my memory, on top of me
and inside of me and I want to vomit, I want to cry.
But you didn’t use force, and you are someone i know
and i didn’t fight back — I always thought I would fight back.
So I am angry with myself for being such a sucker
and angry with myself for thinking I am such a sucker
and i can’t cry because i don’t know how to feel.
You have scorned my trust and my friendship and
the rights I claim over my own body. You Have Scorned ME,
YES, AND HELL HATH NO FURY SUCH AS I.
SO THE NEXT TIME I SEE YOU, I WILL PROCLAIM
MYSELF SATAN AND YOU A LOST SOUL, AN DEAL
YOU ONE SWIFT DAMAGING KICK TO THE GROIN
WITH MY STEEL-TOE BOOTS. I’LL PULL YOU UP BY
THE SCRUFF OF THE NECK AND ASK YOU, “SO YOU
LIKE TO FUCK GIRLS WHO ARE PASSED OUT, HUH?
WHY — SO THEY CAN’T FIGHT BACK?” I’LL LAND MY
FIST SQUARELY IN YOUR FACE, BLACKENING YOUR
EYES, BREAKING YOUR NOSE, CUTTING YOUR LIP
AND KNOCKING YOU TO THE GROUND. I’LL KNEEL
BESIDE YOU AND IN THE SAME GENTLE VOICE I
USED TO SAY “NO” — GENTLE BECAUSE I DIDN’T
WANT TO HURT YOU — I’LL WHISPER “IT’S STILL
RAPE ASSHOLE
” AND I’LL LEAVE MY FOOTPRINTS
IN YOUR BLOOD AND RUN TO THE RIVER TO THE
RIVER TO THE RIVER.
And I’ll sit down and cry.
It’s still rape.

This poem was first published in the Williamsburg Waterfront Week, Vol. 2, №2, Jan 16–23 1992 © Susie Kahlich

Love, and Be Silent

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Photo by Dmitriy Kolesnikov on Unsplash

You said
To your three sons
When i wasn’t in the room
That you guess you must be going
You guess it was time to call it a day
Your final words to soothe the boys
And make it all okay

But you said
To me
Just before dying
Your final words whispered from the shores of death
To me
Your only daughter
Your favorite daughter
To me you said, I don’t want to die
And left me with the terror of your final moments
As my legacy

It’s not the same
You didn’t even get my name
Right in your will
You divided your assets evenly among us
Three boys and the girl
Three men and the woman
The woman and three boys
But the boys don’t carry the weight of their father’s fear
You left that only to me
As my legacy

Your favorite daughter
Your only daughter

One year earlier
You did not tell them
The cancer was all over your body
In your bones
Eating your liver
You told them you’d beat this thing
You told them it wasn’t that bad
You told them you would live forever
You told only me of the pain
And asked only me to lie for you
To them, and to yourself too
Your favorite daughter
Your only daughter
Until I was so heavy with your pain and fear and
the many faces of you being brave
For your sons
That my ears were too full
to comprehend the final whisper of your last breath

If only you had the courage to speak about it
To tell your sons as you told me that you were dying
To tell your sons as you told me the truth
We could have stewarded the final months of your life for you
With care and memories and kindness
And carried you to that far shore as far as we could go and sing you songs until you could no longer hear us and sail with you until you could no longer see us to spread your ashes and wrap ourselves in your ashes and roll in your ashes and eat your ashes instead of just letting the wind take you

Meet my daughter Jesus, meet my daughter Satan

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Portrait of the author by Jim B. circa 1994

If my greatest fear is
my own anger
I chip a tooth
on every word I speak
Embers fall in place of tears
(my fears)

Why do you continue to
flatter me when I’m lying naked with you?
Why do you try to
bribe my emotions?
Why is it so important
that you let me know you
don’t love me?
Why are you afraid of my brain?

You press your face into me
And scream into my thighs
Because you’re mad at what my body does
Without you
Without me

Don’t ask my body
To assume outrageous positions for you
Or my soul to suffer discomfort
Just let my body lie
And let me lie:
Everything’s. just. fine.

Leave me alone
Leave me alone
Leave me alone
Leave me alone
Can’t you just leave me alone?
Leave the lady alone!
(That’s no lady, that’s my wife!)
Man and wife (I belong to you?)
I’m not your life.

I am a godless heathen hussy.
Jezebel!
I am like the biblical Jezebel.
I am like Jezebel in the bible,
You goddamn son of a whore.
I am a direct descendent of Jezebel.
A pure lineage.
A filthy, slutty, whorish bloodline
I am a woman (not like you)
I am one child of many fathers
My mama’s a ho’
I am a free woman. I am a cheap date.
I am painted-tainted-hated
Roll over baby, play dead
Out demon, out damn spot, no girls allowed
Seize the day
Seize the bitch

I am the opposite of Patriarchy:
More of a woman than you dare to be
And more of a man than you care to be.

Susie Kahlich © 1992–2019

Written by

Producer and host of the bi-monthly podcast, Artipoeus: Art You Can Hear, and founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense. www.artipoeus.com / www.prettydeadly.org

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