CW: sexual assault, self-harm
Menagerie of Sexual Assault
Fish have evolved to have four different types of mouth based on their feeding habits.
The four types are terminal, superior, inferior, and protrusible. The 45th man to preside our country has a mouth type somewhere between inferior and protrusible.
I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss, I don’t even wait.
The inferior mouth is a kiss pointed down, its snout protruding beyond the lower lip. Honeycomb cowfish use their inferior mouth to scavenge detritus, waste products, bits of decaying organisms.
I don’t enjoy that image. Yes I have that image. I think women are beautiful—I think certain women are more beautiful than others, to be perfectly honest—and it’s fortunate I don’t have to run for political office.
The protrusible mouth looks like a kiss but is a fight. The Kissing Gourami are not kissing, rather this is a combative move to show his opponent who owns that space.
When I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.
Protrusible mouths open much, much wider, and much, much faster, than you could ever have thought possible from the size of their mouths at rest.
Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …
When fish with protrusible mouths shit, leaving that long, squiggling string trailing them, a fish with an inferior mouth will eat it.
There has to be some form of punishment …
In the shower I look
between my thighs.
My first stretchmark has appeared,
a pink bloody chasm.
Is this another opening
men will search for?
I take a box cutter to my thighs,
give the stretchmark the hope
of sameness, of seeing herself
outside of herself. I want to cut
I want to make the search myself,
see what is in there
that excites men to touch and hunt
for what overwhelms them,
see if I could
bleed it out.
Here, blood coming out
of my wherever.
Jennifer Conlon holds a MFA from Arizona State University and a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was awarded the 2017 Katherine C. Turner prize from the Academy of American Poets, the 2015-2016 Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing, and a 2016 fellowship from The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Her poems have been published by or are forthcoming in Four Chambers Press, Blue Earth Review, Meridian, Bennington Review, and elsewhere. Jennifer lives in North Carolina.