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Anger Management: aka "not another rape poem"

by Bet Yeldem

“Not another rape poem,” I heard him say from behind me
when she spoke of our service women
standing beside service men
fighting the same war
by day and fighting for the right to protect their own genitalia
from brothers in arms by night.
I didn’t want to turn around. I didn’t want to know who it was
that said, “Not another rape poem”
with the moan and groan of a spoiled brat who
didn’t get the candy bar he wanted at the checkout counter but
instead had a mother with oatmeal and milk
in the shopping cart, trying to give him what he needed,
instead of what he wanted, with barely enough money in her pocket
to cover the cost, and having skipped breakfast herself.
His voice sounded like
every boy who tried to pull or pressure me into a back seat,
every gansta rap video lyricist screaming about bitches and hos,
every sports fanatic claiming they go to Hooters just for the wings,
every Fundamentalist who says my body belongs to my husband,
and oh, yes, the ones who raped me.

I’m a good girl, I swear, ya’ll--
Southern born and bred with a sweet streak a mile long
if you can just get around that corner blind spot
where I’m waiting with an arsenal of excuses (if your lucky)
or weapons (if your not) to justify running or to keep fighting
It doesn’t even bother me
that I don’t give a fuck which way it goes anymore.

But right then -- as she spoke and I shuddered
at the thought of service women dying of thirst because
they were too afraid of another assault
in the dark on the way to the water station or the piss hole
so they don’t drink because either way
they’re dead, and this is not the war they signed up for --
right then, he said “Not another rape poem”
and I lost all my civility.

I wanted to find him in the parking lot,
but only after I found the woman who had on the highest stiletto heels,
And I wanted to tie him down and press that heel (the one that targeted marketing says
we have to wear to be attractive to men)
into the softest spot of his temple… slowly… after sharpening the point…
I suddenly was flooded with ideas for torture
-- some of them were damn good
and I thought I could have a career in government someday.
So I didn’t look around to see who said it because
going to prison, let’s face it, just ups my chances of repeat performances
of sexual assaults that ripped me apart in more ways than one,
and of future thoughtless comments by assholes like him
with voices like the men who raped me.
I could tell I was having newfound issues with anger management.

I got quiet, took a breath, and as much as I love poetry,
wanted to kill the word poem
so that all I heard from his lips was an outcry of one man
standing up for his mother and his sisters
saying simply “Not another rape” with aching sorrow in his eyes.


Posted on 01/12/2009
Copyright © 2024 Bet Yeldem

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 01/12/09 at 10:55 PM

I wish I had your gift for capturing people when they think no one's paying any attention. Another really great write.

Posted by Nanette Bellman on 01/13/09 at 12:04 AM

Wow Jem. You painted such a powerful portrait with raw emotion. The sad thing is, if you did go to jail or prison, you'd get the water those died for. You'd eat better then some of us "free" people. Excellent work here.

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