Enough: Three Poems






A Moratorium on Sex

When I tell him
That I need a break
From sex, he flattens
His lips, sighs,

All the air is leaving
Him, like I’ve
Taken it, like it’s
My goal to wound,

Like I delight
In my withholdings,
Like I’m creating scarcity.

He argues that BJs,
HJs, anal are not sex. I think,
If they really weren’t
He wouldn’t be asking.

What else isn’t sex?
What else doesn’t count?

I can’t catch a break, man.

I rearrange his words
Watching the streetlamps
Eclipse half his face,
Better I not see him.

Catch man, a break I can’t.
I can’t a man. Break Catch.
I break a man. Can’t catch.  

He pouts and pounds,
He makes me someone
Who can’t keep
Promises to themselves.




Am I imagining this?
Am I dizzy?
Did someone put something
In my drink?
Didn’t I cover it?
Do people still do this?
The room, walls,
Constellation of people,
Loud and yet nothing,
Far off, a distant coconut.
My knees knock together
As I stammer out.
I’ve been prepared.
I smell the wet
Bahia grass outside.
Mami said to make yourself
Vomit. I lurch forward and rocket
My fingers towards my uvula
I have to force them down
Several times, dry heaving,
My body knows
To resist.
My heart spasms
Bile collects in my throat,
Dry, searching, mouth.
My poor, confused body,
Does it think we’re choking?
Why do I feel dizzier?
If I close my eyes
Will it all stop spinning?
If I drive home, I’ll get a DUI,
Maybe hit someone
On the road.
I’ve heard the stories
Of crashes, prayers
Against steering wheels.
I have been prepared.
The vomit tidals over my fingers
and wrist and puddles at my feet,
Like chunked sargassum.
I hear a voice, voices,
Behind me.
One asks if I’m okay,
Another says he can drop me
Off—if he kills me,
People would say I was a dumb
Bitch for getting into his car
People would say she should
Have known better
People would say why did
She drink, go out?
What did she expect?
I say no, but he insists, I say no
But he insists until the vomit
Nearly misses him,
Ungrateful bitch.
Maybe his intentions were pure,
Maybe all he wanted
Was to help
A sad stranger.
The acid burns my esophagus;
Maybe he really just wanted
To keep me safe.
But could I risk it?
I’m interrupted by another
Wave of retching,
My spine convulsing,
We can’t take chances,
We can’t take risks,
Ungrateful bitch,
But alive



Not all Men

Except for the one that followed
Me down every Publix aisle,
To the bakery, to the register,
& waited for me in the lot.

Except for the teacher
Who looked at my developing
Chest whenever I had questions,
Who tucked in my shirt tag & lingered.

Except for the colleague,
Friendly, helpful, inviting,
Who pulled his glasses down to ask:
How do you like to get fucked?

Except for the boyfriend,
Pouting, can’t-catch-a-break-guy,
Reaching over the console,
Hoping I’d break for him.

Except for the other boyfriend
Who hovered over me
Like a haunting, pretending
He couldn’t hear me.

Except for the friend
Who confessed his love
& upon rejection
Ended the friendship—fucking tease.

Except for the neighbor
Who faked a limp
To call me over
& cup my breast.

Except for the stranger
Who showed up at my job
& slipped his number
Into my shirt pocket, grinning.

Except for the professor
Who insisted on hugs
& when I cut my hair
Asked me if I was a dyke.

Except for the classmate
Who asked me to look
At his watch &
Held his cock over his wrist.

Except for the father,
The first man in my life,
Who lifted a sheet, while
I slept, to see what I might be.




Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler

ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women, trans, and nonbinary 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.

Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.

Visit the archives here.

Madari Pendás is a Cuban-American writer, translator, and painter. She is the author of Crossing the Hyphen (Tolsun 2022). Her work has appeared in CRAFT, PANK, Sinister Wisdom, and more. Pendás has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, FIU, and two Pushcart nominations. More from this author →