ENOUGH: Three Poems by Tenika Stallings






On the Other Side of the Door

A punch, kick, and a smack to the face
These are just a few of the acts my mind can’t erase

Taking my phone so I couldn’t call for help
Choking me so hard, barely able to let out a yelp

Locking me in the room away from my kid
These are just some of the treacherous things that you did

Taking the keys to my car while I slept so you could joyride
In it your secret rendezvous and crack habits you would hide

Having me cower on bended knee under your fist
Holding too tight of a grip on my left and right wrist

Hearing my kid call for mommy from the other side of the door
Not knowing that I’m bleeding out on the living room floor

Black eyes and neck impressions from the same hands I used to love
The next time I see them each will be encased with a glove

To leave no evidence this time—the crime never took place
No matter how many tears you saw streaming down my face

No matter how many times my kid screamed Daddy, no!!
No matter how many times you heard the word stop, and continued to go



Left for Dead

How did I end up here?

Especially at this late hour of the night
Waking up in a damp dark alley, with not a soul in sight

My clothes have been rearranged; my pants button undone
Have I been raped by this son of a gun?

Did someone slip me a mickey?
I remember having drinks, I reach up to feel a hickey

I am about to vomit right here where I sit
My body is in so much pain, much like I’ve been bit

By a venomous snake that has spewed me all over
Now a lost dog wanders by, think I will call him Rover

He approaches me slowly, after he heard my cry
Then proceeds to lick my face, ensuring it’s dry

What the fuck really went on here?
Why was I left alone in the dark, trampled in fear

And why is one of my brown boots missin’
And what is that smell, that resembles someone pissin’

I hear an ambulance on the next street
Maybe I can reach it if I beat my feet

I try to stand but my legs fail to comply
Just what has been done to me, where, and why?

I’m starting to feel dizzy, everything around me is spinnin’
I feel like a loser, not somebody who’s winnin’

I must have placed myself around company that meant me harm
As I reach around to examine my body there’s duct tape on my arm

I need help, someone please call 911

He chose, this time, to spare me; death would not be the sum
The days of me hanging with strangers are done, a loner I have now become



The Double Cross

I finally made the long overdue call

To my first rapist, the pedophile of them all

The one who shapeshifted my very life

And since that day I don’t trust, and have been livin’ in strife

Not knowing if you are a friend or foe

So on trees I decided it would be wise to blow

To help me escape from these dark memories

Of how he penetrated me while on his knees

He was way too big for lil’ old me

I was only five; he had eyes but still couldn’t see

They must have been in the closed position

He did things to me I’m too ashamed to mention

He sat me on his lap and we’d play pattycake

I thought it was innocent, had no idea he’d make

Me lie down, legs in the air while I’m on my back

I was the prey and he chose to attack

No one so small should have to endure

Did my mom set me up? I was not sure

Cuz she would come home and find us in the room

My body language should have alerted her, I know it said DOOM

But see, we were never connected in that way

She put dick and drugs before me since the first day

I was never her prize nor her priority

Always seen as the black sheep, always the minority

All I wanted was for her to come in and protect

Not beat on me and place a chokehold around my neck

Saying, “you want my man, bitch, you did this on purpose”

But I was an innocent child, undergoing this metamorphosis

I can’t take this pain—I was betrayed by my mother

She looked at me as the other woman, never special, just another




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 who engage 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.

Life for her has been anything short of a walk in the park. Finding it hard to trust after continuous betrayals, it's no wonder she had locked her heart away in a cage, until someone came along with a non-duplicated key. Only the original would suffice and until then, she would stay a loner, in her own little world, until she felt that it was safe to come out. More from this author →