Monday, June 23, 2014

Kayla Wheeler


When you say the word assault in a room
full of bodies and basslines, the bouncer will
snake an arm around your waist, lower
his ear to your lips so he can feel the shape
your mouth makes when you say it a second time.

When you do he will ignore it, guess what
you've been drinking from the cherry vodka
on your breath. Say maybe you need another one.
You will think he means a fourth Dirty Shirley, but
he is referring to The Hand. The Hair Pull. The Bite.
What the police will call just dancing after the blood
has dried in your hair.

When you approach a second black t-shirt with
SECURITY written on the back like a warning shot,
he will not wait until you are finished to call you
Cupcake, comment on your short hair and how
you hardly have enough for a handful. Do not mistake
this interrogation for small talk. This hunting for a night out.

When the girls you came here with tell you
not to ruin their night and slip a beer inside
your fist, forget about the room, the music
and how it is the pulse of this monster.
Get a napkin from the bar, take the pen
you used to under tip the waitress. Lock
yourself in the one bathroom stall not being
vomited in. Know those three walls will not offer
a verdict before you take a stand, that writing it all
down will be the only siren escorting you home
tonight. Then write.

When he sunk his teeth into the soft flesh
of my neck, I felt the tongue of every man
I've ever denied slide across my skin,
as if licking the frosting off someone else's
birthday cake, then placing it back in the display
window. The baker telling him to have a nice day
as he walks out, mouth stained red, a free man.

Kayla reads "Girls' Night Out":

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Kayla confesses: "'Girls' Night Out' was birthed in a night club bathroom stall, immediately following an assault by a stranger. After more than one attempt to inform security, I realized the only thing that wouldn't dismiss what happened is a bar napkin and pen. More importantly, I realized that I am the most important person who believes it."

Guest editor Annabelle Edwards' ruling: "I chose 'Girls' Night Out' because it tells a full story. The writing is concise without being too brief, and as a woman I can relate to the fears that the author described. I think it also fits with the #YesAllWomen hashtag I have seen around Twitter. Women have to worry about being sexually assaulted, drugged, or murdered and after a rape happens people will say, 'Well, you were drunk,' or "Your clothes were too revealing,' or 'You never said no,' not understanding that silence does not equal consent. The poem's message is one of utmost importance."

KAYLA WHEELER is a feminist writer from New England. Her work can most recently be found in The Orange Room Review, Voicemail Poems, and Wicked Banshee. She represented Slam Free Or Die at the 2013 National Poetry Slam and is the first ever NorthBEAST Underground Team Slam Champion. Follow her at

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