The Good Guy

by Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa

A friend of mine,

once told me

that he’s never

 “too friendly,”

with women

because he doesn’t

want them

to think

that he’s hitting on them

 

and I told him

that I do

the same thing

but with straight men

 

and it wasn’t until

I let those words

Toil in my brain

For a few days

That I realized

how fucking dumb

That comparison is

 

Women assume

That my nice friend

is hitting on them

Because men so freely

make claim

to our bodies

 

while Men assume

That my niceness

Is an invitation

into my pants

Because they think

That I exist

For their amusement

 

men can’t be too friendly

because they tread

on the rotting remains

of the monsters who came

before them

 

but women can’t be too friendly

because we constantly have to crawl

on the broken backs

of our sisters

and our mothers

and our own

bloody carcasses 

in order

to survive

 

men live in the shadow of their own violence,

fearing they’ll be misbranded,

while women politely decline

the barrel of a gun

being jammed down their throats

 

so no,

it’s not

the same

thing.

 

If it were,

Then my friends’

Reservations

would extend

Into his friendships,

The same way,

Mine do.

 

But they don’t.

 

Men’s entitlement to my body

Or my mind

Doesn’t end

With familiarity

 

Through distance

my friend becomes the “good guy,”

welcomed into the fold

and Forever celebrated

For simply not being

a piece of shit.

 

In contrast,

All distance awards me

Is more time

 

Time before I’m used up

or forced open

as I stupidly

try to find

any kind

of semblance

of a friendship

 

I can’t turn

To men

For support

Or advice

Or care

Or help

Because I’m afraid

That these acts

of friendship

Will turn

Into declarations

of love,

unrequited or not

 

Yet that same fear,

has never stopped them

from coming to me

for the same

kind of support

that they brand

“too personal”

When lodged

From their own tongues

 

their entitlement to my labour

more gendered then my politeness

 

so that even when,

I get the courage,

to break

or assert

those boundaries

that work against me

 

I’m still

always met

With silence.

 

Because no,

I was wrong.

It’s not the same fucking thing.

 

The same niceness

that indicts my friend

protects him

from the same scrutiny

that consumes me

 

because

at the end

of the day

he’s a good guy

and I’m

just a girl

Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa is a fourth year PhD Sociology candidate at York University, Toronto, Canada. She does gender, sex, and sexuality studies with a concentration on queer, postcolonial, and Black feminist theories. She has a joint honors degree in Sociology and English Language and Literature and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Western University. Her dissertation focuses on the pragmatic development of Toronto activist group AIDS ACTION NOW! using a queer-postcolonial, Black feminist lens. Much of her work is interdisciplinary. In particular, she uses sociological literature to examine a wide range of pose, poetry, interview data, and media content. For more information on her poetry, please follow her Instagram handle: @bluishgreenpoems or email her at jdacost5@yorku.ca 

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ben

by Jade Crimson Rose Da Costa

First published in the Halcyone by Black Mountain press

Because your name

is as generic

as your soul

 

you won’t be able to prove

that this poem is about you

unless you claim

its contents

as your truth

 

you’d have to admit

that you held me down

on my bed

as you punched

 

Eight

Holes

in

my

wall

while

I

Cried

 

and begged you

to stop

 

that you used to call me a bitch

when we fought

because you knew

that my dad

would call me that

and that hearing his hate

echoed in another man’s voice

could break me

 

weaponizing my trauma

against me;

and spitting the poison

of my past

in my face

in order to drown out

the sound

of my resistance

 

 

If this poem is about you,

then that means

that you’re the same guy

who used to corner me

in my room

when I changed

to try to force me

to have sex

 

the same racist piece of shit

who thought it was okay,

to call immigrants and brown people names

even though

your girlfriend

was both

 

if you are the Ben,

that I knew,

then you made a habit

of ripping my limbs

from my sockets

and shoving them

inside me

just to watch

my fingers bleed

from under

my teeth

 

 

 

I don’t know

The exact moment

When you raped me

 

maybe it was the first time

that I said

I didn’t want to

and you said

“c’mon baby”

and made your way

inside me

anyways

 

or maybe

it was when

I openly cried

and you looked away

as I waited

for you

to finish

 

or perhaps

It was the first

or the 10th

or the last time

 

that I got black out drunk

so that I could give you my body

and not have to feel

the sharp stab

of your flag

colonizing

my insides

 

 

I don’t know

Which time

Was “the time.”

 

All I know

is that the word “raped”

fits neatly on my skin

which you made

unbearable

to live in

 

I know

that when I finally met a man

who loved me right

I would still

get black out drunk

so that I could try

and re-enact

the trauma

of loving you

 

stuck in a loop

haunted by the lost image

of you

tearing through

my flesh

 

forever trapped

in the muscle memory

of my dead brain cells

 

I know

that no matter what

I feel

like I have

No choice

when it comes

to sex

 

that even when

my love says

over

And over

And over

Again

that it’s “okay”

 

all can I hear

is Your voice

in my bones

saying

“no, you have to.”

 

And that the sensation

of another man

any man

on my skin

feels like

the hand

of death

 

And I know,

That I don’t know,

What sexuality

Feels like

Looks like

Is like

anymore.

 

I don’t want to claim

the title

“asexual”

because it feels

like I’d be describing

something I am

and not something

I lost

 

so instead

I dress myself up

in the language

of survivor

anxious

triggered

strong

 

stretching the words

across my body

like armour

 

to protect me

from the lingering sent

of your breath

 

 

but these labels

can’t fit

over the body suit

of black tar

that you left

on my skin

 

marking me

and leaving me

exposed

 

to the whisper

of the wind

that sings

in my ear

 

that you’re just

another girl

who

was

raped.