i unfold my jeans
fold myself into them
paint on red lips
double knot my noose
double knot my apron
i don’t know when this started to feel like a punishment
at work i am
distinguishable against the sauvignon blancs & the high life
dark against a white bar
but okay when trapped between the thickest curved glass
no longer skin
just carefully chilled glass
passed from one hand
to next hand
on my good nights i am
the bad ones treat me like
stuck to bottom of a glass
in the house red
dribbling from tap
on the worst nights
i am just
pooling dark on the white bar
where sauvignon blancs and high life
want nothing to do with me
I click replay
Watch your fist
Connect with a foolish jaw
A jaw that should have known better
But if it didn’t before
It does now
What the video leaves out
Is the sound
Of you snapping
What he called you
No one got it on camera
Or they wanted you to look guilty
I don’t know
If he called you hard
It doesn’t matter
He knew what he was saying
They still call him
What’s the name
For when someone gets pain that no one thinks they asked for?
I mean what’s it called when you have all this pain
That everyone wants to blame you for
Tell you to forget about it
just like how come
he gets to be
You grown before you out the womb
You got a name
before your first words come out
You went for him
Fists and fists
Like you tried to grab
For the end of all this
But your fingers wrapped around nothing but your own palms
They keep trying to break you
But his words broke your patience
Did your mother ice those tired hands?
Tell you about her tired heart?
Tell you how
Whip split backs
for bruised knuckles
say we know better than fists
the only thing we know is
our own humanity
how to fight for it
we have to
when they bring you down
and everyone wants to say
“look how far we’ve made it”
Still feels like we haven’t made it far
I don’t like violence
But I won’t play like
17 year old me
Whose just been cornered by white boy
At a party
Who asks again and again
“nigger pussy is like”
Doesn’t want to know what kind of bruise you left on him
Doesn’t want to know
If his sons will feel it too
Do you think your fist changed him?
you think he’ll think twice now
will he decide he’s owed even more
no such thing as
when every day
is a fight anyway
Men getting on the train.
Men shoving their knee into the side of your thigh.
Why are you apologizing for taking up space?
You’ve been thick thighs and big mouth since fourteen
you will not apologize for either of them any longer
so you spread:
your legs in a short skirt and tights not caring who sees what:
because you need to make a fuckin point.
Because you’re just as entitled to this space as he is.
Because when he shoves his knee into the side of your leg you should not look at him like you are sorry.
Like you’re in his way.
Do not apologize for his entitlement.
Just like you never apologized for your old manager who felt entitled to run his hand down your back.
Like your spine belonged to his fingertips.
Like your neck belonged to his hot breath.
Like your “no” didn’t belong anywhere.
You do not need to make yourself smaller.
You do not need to let him have what he thinks he is entitled to.
This, a war you never asked for.
you never wanted to fight
The small of your back is yours.
That bus seat is yours.
Even when a man tries to tell you it isn’t,
even when you don’t want it to be,
it is yours.
RebeccaLynn Gualtieri is a Boston based poet who eats too much pizza and yells poetry anywhere she can. rebeccalynnwritten.com