“To the Woman Who Ruled ‘Every Rape Is Not a Gender-Motivated Hate Crime'” by Bayleigh Cardinal

Bayleigh Cardinal


Well, I was sprawled over a park bench, genderless,
t-shirt, flat chest, in love with a womb-shaped

moon, phallic, cyclonic clouds, and thinking about
tornadoes back in Kansas, the cliché penetration

of each category of earth: concrete-covered, corporate
grocery store, widespread field. Not rape exactly.

I shouldn’t have purchased land in the middle
of the Alley, a crop that bleeds more than once a year.

I didn’t consider the angles of nails collapsing
into my oak shed filled with hoes and spades.

I hurried building, wanted it to look nice, became
afraid of melting in Kansas. In barren. In loneliness.

And I needed something to grow beside me,
more predictable than lightning in summertime.

I guess you could say I never truly desired a harvest
when I lay displayed under the winking stars alone

with my seeds, dug-up, scattered like broken beer bottles
after a Friday night frat party. I was still air. Burnt sky.

Maybe no one hated me, pale as a wedding dress
in the storm, but on clear nights I heard him hissing

like a train carving up the landscape, no one will
ever—fuck—no one will ever love you like this.

Maybe I was a car horn. Siren. A ditch near an overpass,
waiting for someone to stop and dare to hide inside of me.

Poets Respond
April 10, 2016

[download audio]


Bayleigh Cardinal: “I’ve been following Kesha’s case against Dr. Luke and Sony over the last few months. This week, a New York judge dismissed many of Kesha’s allegations, including the allegation that she was a victim of a hate crime, stating that ‘every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.’ Her words kept echoing in my head.” (website)

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