have you ever

This poem is explicit. 

Anyone who does not want to read about explicit, threatening scenarios should not read it. 

Mom and Dad, I'm talking to you.

okay



Let me just ask you this.

Have you ever been touched
without your permission?

By your arm?
By a friendly grandpa type?
By your back?
By a Greenpeace volunteer?
(They don't touch everyone, you know.
They don't touch my husband.)

Have you ever looked
across a coffee shop
and met the eyes
of a panting man
watching you?

Have you ever had to weigh
that if you turned and walked away
he'd keep going,
anyway?

Have you ever stood your ground
because
fuck you
because
look at my face?
Because you wanted to be able
to see him?

Have you ever wished for a coat?

Have you ever hated yourself
for the clothes you chose?
Have you ever thought
what did you expect would happen?

Have you ever laughed,
and kissed a man's cheek
when he appeared out of nowhere
three blocks from home
and said
"Let me walk you,
you're beautiful,
let me walk you.
Are you close?
I'll walk you.
What's your name."

Have you ever laughed and refused,
laughed and refused,
laughed as he walked with you anyway
laughed as you thought
where can I go
laughed until you let him spank you,
lightly,
good-bye?

Have you ever been saved
by your willingness
to bend over?

Have you ever realized
how often laughing works?

Have you ever laughed
and understood immediately
that this one does not like
to be laughed at?

Have you ever been saved?

Have you ever had to thank a stranger
for pulling you away
from a stranger
when he saw your blank face
the picture of animal panic
when your back was on the wall?

Have you ever hated the man who helped you
because it was just
just
just
humiliating
that you had a hero?
To thank?
For what?
Nothing happened.
You just
got pushed into a wall
for a minute
or two.

Have you ever
hugged someone tight
like a boxer does?
Have you ever pressed yourself against
the person who wants
to take you?
Have you ever waited out the clock?

Have you ever been saved
when a stranger realized
that someone else already had dibs
on you?

Have you ever heard
one man
apologize
to another
for nearly taking you?

Because he didn't realize
you
were
his?

Sorry, man.
I didn't know
she was yours.

Have you ever tried to speak
after being saved
like that?

Have you ever found your jaw
tight as a tomb
after being saved
like that?

Have you ever seen them perfect their signals
like a pitcher and a catcher?
Have you ever seen them lob the ball
with underhanded grace?

Have you ever been
the ball?

"Aren't you happy to see my friend?
Don't you want to say hello?
Show him how you say hello.
She's the best."

Have you ever had the sense
that there was already a plan
for your evening?

And that it would be best
to get okay with it?

Have you ever caught a glimpse of a wink
a nod
over your head
when you smiled
and hugged the man
you were supposed to hug?

When he hugged you high
and low
testing all the edges of your  soft,
round parts
just to see
if you had
a line?

Have you ever played along?

Have you ever smiled
at someone who scares you?

Have you ever
gone quiet
and chosen to permit
what was going to happen?

Have you ever pretended
you love to give blow jobs
because you wanted to leave
unfucked?

Have you ever let your boyfriend
take pictures of you
and found out
years later
that everyone
(everyone)
saw them?

Have you ever been surprised
like that?
Years later,
engaged,
catching up
with an old friend?

Have you ever been
so unsurprised?

Have you ever thought
well what did you think would happen?

Have you ever gone blank?
Have you ever thrown little pebbles
at the advancing tank?

Wait
Wait
Wait wait wait wait wait 
WAIT

Have you ever been told
to consent?

Have you ever gone toe-to-toe
on a summer afternoon
at a cafe table full of crosstalking smart young people like you
people you've just met and like,
making some pretty good points
actually,
making everyone laugh
until the man you were arguing with
told you to shut up and put your tits away?

Have you ever shut up
and covered
what wasn't uncovered?
Have you ever taken a slap
like that?
Quietly?

Have you ever been saved
from that silent table?

Have you ever had to thank
the person who saved you?

A person whose friends they were?
A person you've loved since childhood
who saved you?

Have you ever said thank you?

Or do you just
get
too
mad?

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