ENOUGH: We Are Trembling in Our Skins

By

ENOUGH is a Rumpus series devoted to creating a dedicated space for essays, poetry, fiction, comics, and artwork by women and non-binary people that engage with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

The series will run every Tuesday afternoon. Each week we will highlight different voices and stories.

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Poem for Stormy Daniels
Dani Oliver

_____“The entire universe has seen my butthole. I’m pretty hard to embarrass.”
_____– Stormy Daniels, 60 Minutes Australia interview, 2018

Stormy, fewer people have seen my bits, but
I’d like to think I’m half as tough as you.
In all the interviews, when asked why you spent those three minutes
pleasureless, passive, but still possessed of self
beneath the orange goon,
you keep saying the same thing:        I don’t know.
and                  I’m still trying to figure that one out.
It’s the only thing I see you still grappling with.
All other details burn out of you, destroy doubt
the way a stuck song can singe the silence of a mind,
or how the space of a question can only be filled
with the mass of its true answer.

I once had sex with a man on a bathroom floor
and I had no idea why.
He, too, was a shitty lay. In stories my friends call him
the starfish. Years later we’d laugh at his inertia,
the flesh of his ego a substitute for any effort,
the prize of my body and the developing story
enough to feed whatever he was hungering for.

There’s a power in laughing. There’s another power in saying:
The whole wide world has seen what it says should stay hidden.
The line between these two is simply how we use the voice.

I don’t know why you did it, either.
But it may have to do with the width of that line,
or the distance between two points we know so well:
one we call self; the other, door.
I think you may have seen a dozen moves forward
in the slightest slice of that moment,
and chosen the most direct path between the two,
the tidiest way out.

I suspect that I succumbed to the starfish because
he wouldn’t leave my dorm room. And because                    he didn’t say it
but I knew why.
And because all I wanted
was to finish my homework.

I may not be as brave as you, but I too know that my body
has led me to the door
more often than my voice.

Laugh. Declare. Comply. Say            enough.
Perhaps the most power comes
from choosing what we use to draw the line,
and from being allowed to say                       I don’t know why
when we have none.

*

The heart of the warrior is a moon-faced thing
Erin Slaughter

ready to strike out its own eye
with its own tusk. I once heard a myth
about a man who ate a planet full of cakes, stashed hunger
in his belly as if there were no reason
desire should be secret, and rode through the desert til he split

open in the sand. I noticed spring’s edges
rotting today and I do not look
at my face in the mirror. Outside, graffiti on the dumpster reads:
soften. But last week my friend was walking down the street
and a stranger put his hands inside her

like her body was a duffle bag to rifle through,
searching for keys. St. Augustine,
in what we remember as history, thought nuns were lucky
to be raped because it taught them humility. He said
that in their pain they ascended closer to God
than the average person, which is not at all
the skinned-kneed truth of being stolen
from yourself. When I try to search his words,

all people are concerned with is the fall
of Rome, as if a country burning
didn’t fashion itself from matches like these, striking off
solitary in the holy dark. Actually, it was an elephant,
not a man. The myth of an elephant

who wove serpents into a corset for his gluttony, wore
their stretched, scaled bodies, shameless. I read
that when an elephant breaks
away from manners to rampage its captors, they say
it has gone ugly. That man will never know the mouse-

sweetness in my friend’s morning voice, how she can fall into sleep
on the least-forgiving surfaces. Still sometimes I walk around outside
without underwear to remind myself the difference

between ignorance and trust. In the glorious swampland
I’ve accepted as my home, a man was recently arrested
for kicking swans in the head. Witnesses say he was laughing.

Here, the planes go all night and each creature squatting in the brush
is another set of teeth, sharpening.

 

TENDER

do we remember f. scott fitzgerald / was a tangled man
with a tornado in everything / he touched? no,
we say that his wife danced / everywhere she went
though she could not become / a dancer
& burned alive in a fire / one mystical inheritance
of women: the recipe / for turning
sorrow into a fetish / mouths a vacuum

(I took a nap : I had a dream I can’t remember : drank a glass of water)

of wildbrush stilling / while a hand reaches
into the bright red jewel / of throat:
what I saw first / is mine(d) to keep / my lover
he puts his hands inside me / never tells

(here we are in the afternoon : here we are, together, & never in the same room)

me what he finds never rips out / a ferris wheel
a whole carnival / construct passion districts
passing through them like cars pass / through a tunnel
some men build mansions / as monuments to longing or kiss you
like their cells grew / too big for their body & it hurts / to be flesh

(started my car three times, didn’t drive anywhere : I had three dreams about the radio : I drank the afternoon : I broke a glass, can’t remember in what room)

sticky with greed / like so many paralyzed machines
some men are made / of well water & rocks / & entirely
by accident / my lover he begs me to lie down quietly
in a bed / of thorns
shaped like lilacs / so many a flora of rage
my hands on him are brooms / carry hay
fever carry harvest / he likes
to be swept / away my lover is a person

(the same song three times in a row & I drank until I wasn’t : if I catch my own eye
in this hallway of mirrors I’d cannibalize)

who cannot tell / the difference between relic & ruin
who cannot be told / he’s a summer unknowing
winter drags its feet til bloodied / til bared
the holes I have to offer / are a kind of glory a kind of gate

(someone somewhere asking please not to dream about them anymore)

to push past unlocked / we are trembling in our skins / no,

tremoring

*

Tornadoes on the Eve of the Women’s March
Hannah Dow

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

We awake to the wind throbbing at the window panes,
folding itself between the front door’s crevices.
I check the yard for the proximity of trees, count seconds
between thunder, lightning. Proof of my intentions to survive.

Morning, the clearest sky. The march is cancelled
but we walk through town anyway, side-stepping limbs
that have been torn from trees at right angles. I want to hold
one up to you and shake it like a finger: lookmy life.

But you do not know what it is to love what loves you
violently. Now witness the way a life depends on it.

 

If I had a poem for every time a man—

then I would have as many poems
as gulls circling the bay,
landing like a fistful of breadcrumbs
just released—

and I would have a poem
instead of a man
circling me in his truck,
hollering as he speeds on

home to the promise
of breaded chicken
and his wife, whom, with his sudden
arrival, he plans to surprise—

*

Pulp Oracle
Marion Deal

First violin
Twiddle the radio for fat
writhing worms of sound and
look
to the sky:
it’s 10 in the morning
too early for flowers
too late for suicide—
what’s a girl to do
at the extremes of frail experience when
the day is mild in time and temperament

Second Violin
Twiddle the radio for fat
writhing worms of sound and
grab
the fucking scissors:
it’s 4 in the afternoon
too early for pork
too late for tendon—
what’s a hog to do
at the extremes of porcine experience when
the day is dripping with fat of conquered daughters

Viola
Twiddle the radio for fat
writhing worms of sound and
grapple
with the scalpel:
it’s 11 in the evening
too early for latinate verbs
too late for girls who intimidate the intellectual —
what’s a poet to do
at the extremes of human experience when
the day is shot through with glistening thought

Cello
Drive the car to Delphi, child
You’ll catch your destiny hung
there with silken cords
and notes for the ravens

Polish its teeth and you’ll
see what you seek

***

Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler.

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ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women and non-binary people that engages with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence. We believe that while this subject matter is especially timely now, it is also timeless. We want to make sure that this conversation doesn’t stop—not until our laws and societal norms reflect real change. You can submit to ENOUGH here.

Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.

Visit the archives here.