How Far We’ve Come

According to my Newsfeed
the word no
can earn a woman a body bag

You could be enjoying yourself with friends in a bar–
a man flirts
you turn him down, and
when you leave to go home to your three children
he shoots you in the chest
because you said no again

We teach our daughters to say no
to bad touches, even
encourage them to learn how to shoot guns themselves
if they want

they could join the Army
serve in Iraq
but if your daughter
says no
to becoming one of three women sexually assaulted or raped in the military

she could be found with bruises
scratch and tooth marks
eye hanging from a socket (like Emmet Till)
broken nose
several teeth knocked back
military gloves glued to her hands
acid burns on her trigger finger and inner thighs
“corrosive material poured” on her vagina
pistol-sized bullet hole through the left side of her head
(she was right-handed)
her death ruled a homicide, then a suicide, by M-16 in her mouth
(40 inch weapon; she was 5’1)

#SayHerName: Janese Talton-Jackson, 29, January 22, 2016
#SayHerName: Private LaVena Lynn Johnson, 19, July 2005

Carla M. Cherry is an English teacher from New York City who has been published in Anderbo, Soar, Obscura, Dissident Voice, Random Sample Review, Eunoia Review, MemoryHouse Magazine, Down In The Dirt, and In Between Hangovers. She published a book of poetry, Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings. Read other articles by Carla.