“Semantics of Rape” by Kirsten Hemmy

book and knife
Image by Dawn Estrin

I think I get stuck
on almost, its taste sharp & sticking

in my throat, the same as knife, as is.
It is true after all, that you change

your words & form follows. Memory is
a frightening thing, so same as real, & it is

what gets people lost & found: I wake
some nights, my mouth a perfect circle, choking

on you, the fear as real as taste, as fighting
the impulse to either kill you or give in.



Kirsten Hemmy is an artist in Charlotte, NC. She is the founder of Mosaic Literary Center, an organization committed to providing art and writing opportunities to underserved communities. Her work has been the recipient of the Linda Flowers Literary Award and the Academy of American Poets Award. She is an assistant professor of English and the Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Philosophy and Religion at Johnson C. Smith University.


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