Ode to the Boy Who Jumped Me

You and your friend stood 
on the corner of the liquor store
as I left Champa Garden, 

takeout in hand, on the phone 
with Ashley who said, 
That was your tough voice.

I never heard your tough voice before
I gave you boys a quick nod, 
walked E 21st past dark houses. 

Before I could reach the lights 
on Park, you criss-crossed 
your hands around me,

like a friend and I’d hoped 
that you were Seng, 
the boy I’d kissed on First Friday 

in October. He paid for my lunch 
at that restaurant, split the leftovers. 
But that was a long time ago 

and we hadn’t spoken since, 
so I dropped to my knees 
to loosen myself from your grip, 

my back to the ground, I kicked 
and screamed but nobody 
in the neighborhood heard me, 

only Ashley on the other line, 
in Birmingham, where they say 
How are you? to strangers 

not what I said in my tough voice
but what I last texted Seng, 
no response. You didn’t get on top, 

you hovered. My elbows banged 
the sidewalk. I threw 
the takeout at you and saw 

your face. Young. More scared 
of me than I was of you. 
Hands on my ankles, I thought 

you’d take me or rape me. 
Instead you acted like a man 
who slipped out of my bed

and promised to call: 
You said nothing. 
Not even what you wanted.

More by Monica Sok

Ask the Locals

Nobody knows how those so-called revolutionaries
who wanted year zero so bad,
turned into mosquitoes. I mean, mosquitoes right?
Because not butterflies or moths rolling
in the mass graves—we all know the moths are children
who didn’t make it past five. My theory is those creeps
sucked the blood of their victims to forget
what kinds of torture they did, with their bare hands
or with other kinds of hands, the kinds with teeth.
I’m not trying to scare you now. Just letting you know
if you scratch your arms like that a huge welt will appear
like a rash, will take months to fade (or forget as it goes),
and those mosquitoes will keep coming for you.
You heard it from me. Don’t scratch their real names. 
Toothpaste over that bump won’t soothe you,
not on this one. I’ll tell you something personal: every time
I hear their real names, I scratch my skin. I scratch my own name
too. Mosquitoes. Call them mosquitoes. Like a nuisance.
Just that. I know, I know… it’s been years. The past
should be the past by now but not this kind.
You have to protect yourself because this kind keeps going
like that mosquito’s straw on your calf keeps sucking.
You didn’t see it, did you? This is when I tell you: Don’t move.
Slap.

Related Poems

I Might Have Dreamed This

For a short time after
the rape, I found I could

move things. Energy birds
swarmed from my brain.

With a witch's sense
of abandoned physics,

I set dolls rolling.
Back and forth. Like a

breathing sound.

Using only my night-powered
eyes, I pushed the lamp

to the dresser's edge.
I buried the mirrors

in avalanches of freshly
laundered underpants.

I never slept.

I did all these things
lying down.

Verga

"...women don't want the men to go into the
bush because the women will only be raped but
the men will be killed...I have seen a woman
who was caught in the bush by several men.
They tied her legs to two trees while she was
standing. They raped her many times and before
leaving her they put stones in her vagina..."

—Abshiro Aden Mohammed, Kenya, 2000
Dagahaley Somali Refugee Camp
from A Camel for the Son,
by Fazal Sheik

 

Before leaving her they put stones in her vagina
The men will only be raped but the stones will be killed
The bush caught many men to go into the stones
The stones will be killed by several trees before leaving
The bush tied the men to the trees in their vaginas
Before bush go to trees they kill many stones
Many men will be caught by the trees in the bush
Several trees will be raped by the bush and killed
Only the caught men will be stoned and bushed by the trees
Several men were caught by the trees before leaving
The men will be killed but the stones will only be treed
The stones put many trees into the men's killed vaginas
By the bush, the trees were raped only several times
Before leaving, the vaginas were seen standing in the stones

Nothingness

I don’t want to say anything. What is it to be saying? Force speech, rape speech. I have no subjectivity or light subjectivity. Speaking, defunct. Land mass floats. And the forests have been felled. And the antlers, snapped. Morphed lips, already sewn. Most of us are keen to mouth the word, “beast.” Everyone is talking talking talking like dentures, clack clack, but nothing is really said. Or so much chatter static. I am not saying anything either, am waiting and breathing. My body is speaking. Expressing the thingness of the thing. It chats at me, motoring. In the taxi, a tree shaped purple fragrance floats across face.

--

To be a red 
scratch or 
red scotch, 
depending on 
your liking,
calculation 
of the sublime, or 
the sublime itself—

Memory fixed— 
—and 
then splatter.
My mother in 
her pink kitchen 
washes what 
the garden 
and its grey 
chemicals produced. 
Outside, the gate 
ajar, the dog 
run wild-ing. A thing 
called girl splay
or wheat heart. 
We could draw 
a chalk line there. 

This is not conceptual. This is a poem. You are a poem. I am. 

The hesitancy.
The undoingness. 

More secrets: humiliation as release. 

The men all say “I want to stretch you out,” feel themselves big in this small corner of the world. How chivalrous, the ache of any obvious sliding down. What would the poem be without wings to block out the light?