You decide you want me
because you’ve decided I’m a whore.
And you believe it
because that’s what he told you,
That it was all me and he couldn’t resist
the rose quartz and rosemary,
Mother to the Virgin Queen.
If I would go to such lengths
as to glide through his dreams,
You know your charms will work on me,
Sexuality cancelling out
The bitch’s blanket immunity.
And what he says must be true
because a king’s word is law.
And to a man such as you, a man must be king,
No matter that he beheads the would-be queen
And rides off into the sunset
with her ladies-in-waiting.
But, contrary to popular, propagandic belief,
It’s not that easy and I refuse to be.
Because the only difference between victim
and who’s to blame
Seems to be who’s writing the history.
If I were to go to a doctor
and tell them that I don’t want to have children,
they’ll tell me I’m too young to make that choice.
What if you meet a nice young man who wants a family?
And say by some fluke it happens,
my body ignores scientific expectations
as well as mine?
Then it’s my fault for making poor choices
when no one bothered to give me a choice.
It’s no surprise when they try to take away that choice, too.
The boy: “I want three kids someday.”
With that, he shatters the daydream
like ice underneath truck tires.
The girl mentions some other statistic,
but all she can think
The girl goes to a party,
sitting around a table with sort-of friends,
when they talk about
“carrying on the family name.”
All couples, who know a little too much
about the in-laws’ expectations.
“We’ll have a deck like this,
and a grill. Three dogs
and five kids to add another branch.”
One just-more-than-acquaintance turns to the girl:
“And you?” “Maybe adoption.”
When the scene pauses and the world spins around them,
it’s not because she’s had four drinks,
but because inside, she’s screaming:
“I can’t do it again.”
Sitting in bed, it’s not hard,
not like it is for so many people.
You can wrap yourself in blankets-
red, black, floral, script-
or lounge on patterned cushions.
Maybe one has a tiny tear from overuse,
but not from streaming down faces.
The dog will curl up next to you,
slow, steady breaths,
wagging tail when you say his name,
not a snarl in sight.
The birds make noise outside
the open window—
no bars, unlocked.
You can look out,
look up friends and family
in your contacts or address book.
You know where they are.
You know who you are.
You are not afraid to be.
to attempt to make [me] believe that [i] am going insane
Merriam-Webster defines gaslight,
(as by subjecting that person to a
series of experiences that have no
and the definition reads eerie,
like one of Freud’s dolls,
Gaiman’s black-button eyes.
I redefine gaslight by analogy,
to hear the pounding in his chest
while he tells you it doesn’t tick;
(as all the while you slip deeper
’til you drown in the globe,
in the anatomy of a gaslight).
Juliette Sebock is the author of Mistakes Were Made and has poems forthcoming or appearing in a variety of publications. She is the founding editor of Nightingale & Sparrow and runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste. When she isn’t writing (and sometimes when she is), she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz.