TRIGGER WARNING: This prose poem contains details about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Open Circle lays down still and quiet under their coffee table
remembers laying down still-face into wet pillow face quiet red silent face Open Circle remembers being offered popcorn afterwards- looking up the definition of rape in the dictionary but Open Circle hadn’t said no… Open Circle had consented to his late night underwear fashion show-had unbuttoned his shirt-had woken up early took a long hot shower, moisturized, and walked through the snow to the nearest Pharmacia to buy condoms and spermicide- greeted each other at the door with wet kisses- Open Circle had wanted everything up until the way he turned animal-she had wanted to be turned over onto her back so she could look up at him-she wanted him to see her- she didn’t want to be just a body.
Open Circle this time had said No, she didn’t want to know how far up his fingers could fit inside her-didn’t want to give him one more turn
Wanted him to wash his hands,
Open Circle is counting all the times she wanted to go home.
Going home means getting to put clothes back on. Why was it always a thing for the girls to be the only one naked? She didn’t want to be naked. She didn’t want to have sex with him while he was high because she wanted to make sure he really loved her-she didn’t want to have sex with him just because her roommate would be gone for the weekend and he didn’t talk to her after that-she wanted to go home or this time for him to go home-he wanted to choke her but only in fun and only in make believe real ways that really had consequences and she didn’t like the way he grabbed her around the throat on her own bed in quiet silence-
Open Circle was now crying under their coffee table watching the news
The news was reminding them of all of this
The news was saying that a she president was going to win but now the news is saying that the she president isn’t going to win and Open Circle is lying under their coffee table in solidarity and reaches for a pillow and shoves their face into it and wets the pillow with tears and thinks it’s probably going to get moldy but doesn’t even care anymore.
Want’s to know if they will be ok but doesn’t even know who they is anymore and knows that all the theys are probably not ok and nobody knows who even is ok except for maybe the white he and hims and maybe the people with money but everyone knows even money isn’t safe anymore
the world doesn’t feel safe anymore.
Open Circle is checking in and out
the news is going in and out the she president is farther down the she president is going and taking everything with her- it’s not the she president’s fault.
Some people are saying it’s protest voters fault or the ones who voted outside the two party system but no one can be sure anymore
not the news people
not the people sitting in couches around family TV sets
or the people also lying face down under their coffee tables.
The people who already went to bed will wake up to the news.
Open Circle has work in the morning but can’t go to sleep not knowing.
Open Circle is tired and their eyes flutter.
Open Circle’s back hurts again. The pain is radiating outwards like a broken heart beat.
The he president is unprecedentedly winning
The he president is mean
The he president makes Open Circle feel ashamed.
Open Circle is counting all the times they wished they had said no.
No I don’t want your popcorn because I just went into your bathroom to clean myself off and there was blood in my underwear-
You knew I was bleeding but you said it was only just the color red.
I didn’t want it in my mouth but you were offering-cold unzipped jeans.
They are being felt up at a party and the music is too good and the girl is staring into Open Circle’s eyes like she’s hungry and Open Circle wonders if their first time with a woman is going to end up in a bathroom at a party because the music was too good because lust is more powerful than Open Circle knows what to do with. Open Circle isn’t prepared for this.
Open Circle has been practicing with their therapist how to say no.
The He president is now president.
Open Circle is lying face up under their coffee table with the red fuzzy blanket wrapped tightly around their body.
Open Circle is practicing saying no.
Open circle is now screaming no no no.
Open Circle is still screaming no just silently. Even the window patterns on the carpet are crying.
Their mother on the end of the phone is telling them that everything is ok because that’s what mothers do is tell their children everything is ok when Open Circle reads the news and checks their Facebook newsfeed so many times a day and they already know what’s happening that’s not ok and what has been happening that was never ok. When the He president became president and everyone immediately broke open-Open Circle was holding themselves under their coffee table with one hand clutching tightly to their childhood stuffed animal screaming-And saying everything is ok doesn’t help sweep up the pieces or put people back together and there aren’t enough safety pins in the whole world to hold everyone together right now. Open Circle is sure of all those things. They are also sure that not holding people together means that there is going to be a whole lot more rivers and salty oceans.
Open Circle stays under their coffee table for three days, only gets up to use the bathroom.
Open Circle is itchy-bleary-eyed from scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed.
The He president is definitely president.
Open Circle’s newsfeed is full of suicide hotline numbers
Open Circle’s newsfeed is blacked out
Open Circle’s newsfeed is raining
Open Circle’s newsfeed is saying all the horrible things.
Open Circle refuses to answer the phone they don’t want to talk to anyone who might have voted the wrong way.
It’s all too much- itches at their body.
Open Circle takes out an old toothbrush with one battery in it to masturbate
They pretend there’s more on TV than just the bad news
The He president isn’t even grateful
The He president is already preparing to build the wall
They imagine a wall across their living room dividing the room in half-coffee table on one side patch of window light on the other. This makes Open Circle tired and they crawl under their coffee table. When Open Circle’s mother calls, they don’t even answer.
They are not ready to be told the world will be ok again.
Janelle Fine is a queer poet, artist, and performance artist in Boulder, Colorado with their leopard gecko named Max. They graduated with their MFA from Naropa University and are a 2016 Lambda Literary scholar. They are the founder of Le Petit Press and want to spend their life handcrafting beautiful things.