Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “A Woman Walks into a Bar,”
by Sian Killingsworth

[From the WVFC Poetry Archive. First Published  September 23, 2018.]

 

A Woman Walks into a Bar

1. A woman walks into a bar

alone. No, actually it was a party. She didn’t
have a boyfriend. No, her sister left. And she was.
She was drinking. Alcohol. By herself in a place where she knew
nobody.

All the questions: what was she wearing, how
low was the shirt, how many drinks, how many times
did she urinate, where did she urinate, was it a blue or
black shirt, what time did she have the last drink
beer or mixed drink did she see anyone she knew
did she talk with the guy did she kiss him
did she go into the back room with him did she shoot pool
did she lean over did she know he could see
he could see her cleavage see her breasts did she know
how that turned him on?

Did she know how that turned him on? How could she not
know what she was doing to him? What was she doing
to him?

He was taking pictures on his phone. She was
unconscious. Behind the dumpster.
He sent the pictures to his friends. They could see
her bare breasts.

Is there a high-five emoji? Were they all
laughing?

2. A woman walks into a bar

with her sister, no, the sister left,
so she wasn’t with her sister, it was a bar
at a party in this frat house, she met
this guy, some athlete, handsome
they said afterwards.

He wanted to take her
picture, but she said no,
she claimed she didn’t want a stranger
to have her
photograph.

Later, after, he took one anyway,
she wasn’t complaining anyway,
he said, she definitely didn’t say no
she said nothing like no.

He sent the picture to his friends,
so they could all see too, they could see her
bare breasts, just her “nice tits!”
He cut off her head
in the photo.
They all deleted it after he was arrested.

She got raped.
He got a titty photo.

3. A woman walks into a bar

and
you think this is going to be
a joke, right? Well.

Here’s the punchline.
She gets raped in the parking lot.

Gets. Like it’s a gift.
He gets

off.

There’s your
punchline.

 

First published in The Oakland Review #4, January 2017. Listen to Killingworth read her poem here.

Siân Killingsworth has published poems in the Columbia Poetry Review, Calamus Journal, Oakland Review, Mudfish, and others. She holds an MFA in poetry from the New School, where she was an editor of Lit. She has organized poetry reading series in New York and California. She serves on the board of the Marin Poetry Center and lives in Northern California with her family.

 

Poet’s Note

This poem is my response to the victim impact statement that Emily Doe released upon learning that her attacker, Brock Turner, had been sentenced to six months in jail and released after only three for time served. It is also inspired by the dozens of women I know who have also been sexually assaulted and systematically gaslighted. This poem is an indictment of the American system that protects white male predators while perpetuating the degradation and subjugation of women.

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