N/A OPARAH

Sell a bit

If You are reading this it is because I have

—————————————————————

                                    Imagined

                                                            and for that

I am not sorry

 

something more

selfish, sordid

 

i made you                          God

 

still sought                                                                                                                approval unconditionally

Masked Messiah

suffer myself a sacrifice

bodywine

drink me

turned              flesh to food

cummed          you      young

a gain

 

swallow remembrance

finger choke imprints

 

i will not

i will

not

i

will

not

age when I ———————-

when the days don’t stick

and I wake      less

versed in

afterlife

more sure

 

it                     means     is     was

nothing

blackout bastion

pass round baskets

of her, eating slow slurp

salty crystal thighs

dry mouth chew

Feel every bit/e

knee                ground             knee

hands clench

say thanks for            A men

Tithe me to the promise

of return

of expansion

100-fold           me in half

Scatter seed mes and pray twisted weeds that choke won’t reach

your fruit

and all are welcome

trade for confession

of lust want

trade for attention

for words that mean you’re pretty

till I believe it

don’t believe it

won’t

learn(ed)

if I say yes

with my insides

you’ll k/no/w

 

if I say yes

no no’s can be ignored

 

if I say yes

my bruises are consensual

sensual

sexual

since you will

 

And you will

 

 

fuck me

if you and i lock eyes too long                                                                       if i forget to notice

cause you could

or couldn’t tell

                                                                                                                  whatif she wanted

 

call me perfect as it happens

make me feel the special I want

I                                               won’t

and how do you trust

others’ truths when all

yours aren’t

 

and how can I breathe life back

with this                      breadth?

chase it like I need                                 ——————-                                    it catches up

cause

“if you are not sex you are silent” surface serve as nothing

cause

“If I want to leavestay I need reason” seasoned sees them seize them

And I have no use for things that cannot

simultaneously

occupy and excavate

 

And

if I close my eyes

you all feel the same

And

If they’re open

you all

Fill—

the same

shut up sexy wobbly whimsy sweetened shuffles through midnight streets to early morning exits pretend you do or don’t. remember. pretend you could couldn’t have stopped if you wanted. pretend. it’s enjoyable. pretend. you like sex. pretend. you’re empowered. pretend. you’re in power.                                           pre   t–   end.

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Proof

body rotting

sticky between legs and breasts under arms around knees  behind        neck

 

salt white trail from eye to ear

flaky residue wades in red

new blindness

 

i was naked         still

completely covered by him

he was beside me when i woke up

 

bright outsides and i found myself              alive

wristslips and legs           throbbed

someone had removed my insides

don’t look down        i would be missing

cut

out

ripped                                        the teeth of this man

                                                                                                               sleeping

 

                                                                                      he should have eaten me whole

                                                                                      he didn’t

                                                                                      didn’t run didn’t hide                        slept

faint smile

forming in the corners

wrapping around his body

stretching around his shoulders

mocking me motionless

 

 

held body like a towel held it like a blanket held it like a lifeboat

left shoes                               left self                                    left room

didn’t shut the door                                         too loud

left     cracked

someone

sneak in

rape him

sneak in

suffocate him

sneak in

burn it all           him as kindling              fire to everything everyone

 

meincluded

 

erase erase erase              us all     negligible forgettable

name it tragedy

make them weep

for the way                                 i lost my life

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 Dr. Elle MSW, LCSW

taught me how to cheat. how to see another woman and never give her a name. never talk about the moments we shared or how we changed each other. explain away hours of my week and wash away the residues that come with coming      out of myself.

taught me how to get naked. drop both hands to the side. let you see me. pushpress, how ever deep you need. how to open up to strangers and leave a room pretending i was okay. pretending our time hadn’t unearthed a history that the present had no space for. how to look someone in the eyes, with a smile, and announce that i was better/ready/changing/fine. not going to do something dangerous

to myselfor others.

taught me how to lie. how to fake my own presence. disconnect      time from space, time from understanding. how to pause stories, his, her, my,  story, press play next time i see you. how to live in a past, fully, freely. erasing only

details that make me too weak. too wrong. too much. too real. how to stop being without an audience.

taught me how to hide in full view. how to jot lists of sins in dear diary’s you grade with red ink scribbles and slow nods. how to be statue still, make a cast of me, Wong Baker masks of me.

taught me uncovered penance. clonazepam hail marys. repeat as needed. don’t stop til you feel better. til you feel nothing.


skyf

Before the university counselor assigned to me in response to my sexual assault ‘complaint’ knew how to correctly pronounce my name, she had diagnosed me with PTSD, Depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I had to wait, in the thick silence of being renamed this way, as she jotted down her rudimentary guesses and made plans to send my file off to her colleague who would, she assured me, help me out with a dose of Klonopin or Sertraline (she was open to experimenting) large enough to make waking life more “bearable.”

What she and the drugs and the nebulous feeling of being both powerless and neglected provided, was numbness. A deep, hard-to-shake notion that my body was a thing to be played with, experimented on, and handed back to me when everyone was done.

These pieces are my delayed rebellion to permitting my abusers- therapist, rapist, and maladaptive schemas included- to make decisions for me. I internalized their truths about me and it took years to unlearn the helplessness they inspired. These poems are about the synergies of trauma. How swiftly and effortlessly one assault can, when unquestioned and silenced, beget the next. I used these poems to name what happened to me: my words, my reactions. It is not the final step in my healing, rebellion, or recovery but I trust it is an important one.

I am so honored to be a featured writer with Madwomen in the Attic. Conversations around mental health, whether of praise or doubt, fear or allegiance are necessary. Numbness isn’t progress. Functioning is not synonymous with health. I appreciate contributing to a resource that understands this and continuously explores the industry of mental health.


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BioPhoto.jpg

Ngozi Oparah is a queer, first-generation, Nigerian-American born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta. Ngozi has spent much of her professional career as an educator— teaching art and English in both community and university settings; a researcher; a mental health advocate and counselor; and an artist. Ngozi has self-published works of poetry and fiction and is interested in how the tenets of narrative therapy and philosophy can inform writing, storytelling, and individual and community healing. She serves as the Director of Community Programs at StoryCenter, a non-profit digital storytelling agency based in Berkeley. She currently lives in Oakland, CA.  B.S, Neuroscience, Duke University; MFA, Writing, California College of the Arts.

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