137 Readings | 1 Rating

Being a Girl in America

You keep a baseball bat in the trunk of your car,

A Honda, a practical maroon mess you bought from

Your parents on a payment plan,

A young woman needs her own car,

They say, and you mainly agree.


It’s summer. It’s a new city rising up from

The asphalt. You live near a smart-kids college

And the city is already swallowing you whole:

Drugs fly around the campus, buses kick exhaust

Into your face as you skateboard to work,

To save domestic violence survivors by putting them

Into blank-walled, anonymous shelters.

Everyone said you could do this, that you’d be great.


You meet a nice young man. He has clothes

With structured collars. You convince yourself

You belong together and sometimes you sit on

His front steps smoking cigarettes between juniper bushes,

Which smell like good gin, and you feel the sun too

Hot on the part of your yellow hair but it’s a good

Sort of pain. You sort of fall in love.


Then one night (always at night) a peeping Tom

Creeps to your window, face to glass, and now

You are forced to see yourself the way he saw you,

Objectively. Round thighs, soft belly, exposed, happy, against

The sunshine yellow of the bedroom walls.


Now you sleep in your clothes with the baseball bat

Next to you. Your dog is jumpy. The window breaks

The next week, and now you sleep with your cell

Phone in your hand, barely touching down into dreams,

Quietly whimpering yourself to submission.


In the morning you save, save those women.

They come in with pregnancy tests in crinkly

Fred Meyers bags, the plus sign, faded. You tell

Them No, I believe you, I believe you.

How many times do you have to tell them,

No, you don’t understand, 

I’m on your side.



Posted 01/19/17
Comments (1)
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Many years ago, when I was living in a small town in Japan, I caught the local Peeping Tom. Late one evening, I heard someone creeping, creeping behind the house. As quietly as I could, I went out and looked around the corner. Sure enough, there he was - hunched over our rubbish bins (possibly looking for discarded panties). I didn't hesitate. I rushed him and grabbed him from behind. He panicked, tried to throw me off, and then tried to escape, Together, we fell over the garden wall and thrashed around in our neighbor's shrubbery. Meanwhile, I was calling out to our neighbor, a Mr Sato, for help. Eventually, Mr Sato emerged, the intruder gave up the struggle, and the police arrived. After that, we had no more trouble.
04/02/17 8:19pm