L I P S T I C K  


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The Things That Happen To You In Cars

for Jessica Chambers

Before someone will burn you in your car,
your parents take the keys because of some
you are consorting with — color of their
skin. Get keys back; boyfriends seen again. One
time, you’re gang raped when it breaks down, then Mom
forgets to pick you up and you are found
hitchhiking, by some men you’ve known, no qualms
to ride with them alone — until they stop, the car
and throw your purse outside— you in backseat
—just ninety pounds that cannot hide. They are
murderers — leave you breathing in the street
unlike the corpse who puts them behind bars.
Nineteen, these things happen to you in cars.


Author’s Note:

Jessica Chambers was burned alive inside the backseat
of her car in Courtland, Mississippi. This crime is a subject
my book The Stakes which is about fire used as a tool of
misogyny historically against women. This poem is
about another crime that happened to her in her
short life also in the backseat of a car.


Lots of Endings for a Princess Face

When men request a topless dancer with
a Disney Princess face, there’s just a few
of you inside this place. You’re informed if
you are one, irrespective of what you
have ever done with women, men or they
have done to you. You wear a mask of skin
maybe untrue. Men rent to feel the sway
of power next to something naked, thin
they could devour, savor or save between
their teeth, remains of fairytales feasts makes
them prince or beast — both of these you have seen,
charcoal virgin wool gabardine, who’d take
a wife, whore, victim from neon light disgrace.
There’s lots of endings for a princess face.

©Illustration by Jeremy Gaulke 2019/2020

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