Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016) and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.
To The Harvey Weinsteins of the World
"Behind the smile there's danger”
— Black Sabbath
It could hardly be felt
the pressure against you like a wind
with fingers and a tongue and eyes like slime
leaving a trail of demons whispering
into your ear
dreams you can't remember
unless you try so hard, so hard you can hardly
breathe — and sometimes you forget
but you know it's there
like a tingle in your spine.
You know it's there.
When he goes the first time, he leaves a sign inside
your body that says COME BACK SOON.
You know he will. He will come back
for more and more and more of you
until he has eaten all of you
with his mouth.
No one believes you when you tell them.
It's all for attention. You weren't strong enough. You asked for it.
Look at what you're wearing. You didn't say no enough.
You were complicit. You could have said no.
You didn't have to work with him. You didn't have to kiss him.
It isn't so bad. This is just how it is. This is how it is.
This is what you do. This is what you do to get in.
This is just how it is. This is what men do.
This is what you have to do to survive.
There are ways you make yourself disappear.
Silence the insides
of your mouth with cotton and gauze.
No one should
have to hide themselves
as if they aren't humans
as if the only humans that matter are the ones
and the desire
to control —
a violence that kills and breeds
all those in its way, hands like demons shaped like snakes
that twist and twist and twist around the arms
and legs of people like you
until you are too scared
to run or talk or move
until there are none of you left.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.