They meet me with pursed lips
That I know are begging to say

“But how can we call it rape
If he was your boyfriend?”

If I wasn’t kicking and screaming
Pressed underneath a stranger
In the back alley of a nightclub

Like he was allowed to do anything he wanted
In his own home
Or mine

Like I was property to be sold at auction
To not even the highest bidder

A warm dish of coconut curry
To be passed across a round table
Shared with whoever,
Because they needn’t ask

A few coins to exchange hands
Because they aren’t of value enough for a second thought.

I am met with eyes that I know are dimming with disbelief

“But why do we call this sexual assault
If you went to his house on your own accord?”

Like the rules that have been beaten into us
Until we are bruised and numb

Say that after ten years,
I am not allowed to hurt anymore

I detest meeting not one woman,
Who cannot share a story, a sympathy, with me

What have we done
To our women?

A hand placed on my shoulder
Begging not to be there
Rejecting their own helpful touch
That “it’s simply a topic we do not discuss”

Rules of a man’s bed

Because apparently,
Some things
Are just better left


Cover by Velizar Ivanov