The bar is loud and my heart
jumps in time with the clamor
of this strange mix of visitors, this
circus tent cacophony
I skirt the edge of the shadowed walls
as girls vanish down men’s throats
I wonder if this is how we looked
when they found us in the shower stall that night
My roommate says, the morning after, I should
remember in more detail, should have tried to fight you off
As if to say I flinch away from my lover’s touch
because I prefer to sleep alone in my bed every night
As if to say I enjoyed the way
you scraped at my insides
the way a child guts a pumpkin
just before Hallow’s Eve
Some sadistic right of passage, you carved gourds as a boy
but in manhood, you carve the bellies of college girls instead
I am the saddest jack-o-lantern, I am the emptiest corpse
And notice how my rot still reeks of your cologne
I still choke on my words, still feel you crawling in my mouth
Still try to purge sometimes but never rid myself of you
I wonder if this is how you planned to immortalize yourself
A kamikaze pilot, masochistic self-sacrifice
When I see the word rape, I only ever think of you
Silhouette carved into my eyelids, the tattoo I never asked for
Yet, I think I still love you, after all this time,
more than I have ever loved myself
Joie Bauman is a young, emerging writer and photographer from Central Jersey. When she is not creating, you can find Joie coaching track and field or gymnastics, weightlifting, or napping with her four dogs. Her work has been published in Serendipity Literary Magazine, The Esthetic Apostle, and the Same.
"I typed the first draft of Intrusion on my cell phone at an outdoor bar, back pressed against brick as I tried to shrink into the background. Two weeks prior, I was living on the outskirts of Philadelphia at a residential treatment facility for eating disorders. Needless to say, the bar was a far cry from Philly.
Until this past round of treatment, I had eluded to my trauma but never processed it. In addition to a history of emotional abuse, I experienced two incidents of non-consensual sex in college. Though the second felt less morally blurred than the first, I still struggle to identify either as assaults.
I was always outspoken but rarely said anything of substance, consumed by my depression but too afraid to vocalize it. I preferred to drop hints. Panicked texts, calls, emails. Sometimes, I left Post-it notes. Other days, it was the absence of words. I left entire essays blank. I learned to manipulate words, to write or withhold; it was the safest way for me to use my voice.
After leaving residential and stepping down to partial hospitalization treatment, I was asked to write an impact statement stating how trauma has affected me. I wrote my statement but it felt clinical, removed. It read like the case notes from a therapist’s desk. I have always feared my emotions but poetry is my place to feel. This poem was my way of connecting emotion and experience. It hurt to write. But, it hurt because it was honest."