Into the Book


every breath a torch of flame as i look up and see the blue above i want to fly away but no he says and holds my wrist behind me crying blurs the sky i cannot see his hand is sliding slowly slowly down i want to fly i want to fly i want to fly just let me go i cannot speak the ties of painlovefear are tighter on my lips just let me go i want to die there is no place to go to hide to flee inside me nightmares circle vultures breeding vultures breeding vultures breeding vultures and i just want to go just let me go i cannot speak         rising pain and fear i shake he stands there looking and my throat constricts no hands just eyes that’s all it takes i want to go i cannot speak don’t touch me shiver quiver fear is king i lose myself the darkness hides it all i look around at nothing so i stay huddled in the corner of my mind i want to go just let me go i want to fly just let me fly there is no place to go he stands there his hands are sliding sliding i want to go don’t touch me let me go why can’t i speak i’m screaming why can’t i hear myself i’m dying why won’t my blood flow i’m frozen burning dying alive inside myself his hands are warm as hell too scared to know too crushed to flee i want to fly just let me go don’t touch me another face is smiling kindly just a devil of a different breed i cannot tell he takes me in please please don’t let him near i never will you’re safe with me i’m just a devil of a different breed so let me in i’ll take you dear and make you feel and shape you straight and keep you safe and tell you lies as i hold you tight and touch you touch you don’t break free dead i’m dead i’m dying just let me go God i cannot anymore no feeling left i can’t i can’t it’s woven into me to fear to lose to break i did not know the devil was so close behind me a shackle on my mind i fear i lose i weep no soaring no blue sky i cannot see the sunset and i know that feeling they are here again those shadows on my bed kneeling over looking down i cannot feel i am not here i leave i flee i run i cannot move and smiling looking down at me against the red light i am now in hell i think i will not cannot go i scream i live i die i am not here i am not here just let me go don’t touch me touch me i will kill your hearts i am not human anymore you killed me let me go i will fly some day just let me show you and they reach and grab me and i die for real they laugh i hear it as i fade no fear i’m done i’m gone i cannot say goodbye they took me stole me i will never see the light of day
i am woman
i am slave
Feel this pain, my fellow men. Weep for them and kill your demons. Act.

As with most of my poetry, this piece is a bit of an experiment. The topic of sexual abuse and rape is one that has been pressing on my mind for a variety of reasons. These reasons have popped up over the years and yet now in this time in the history of our nation and my own life are coming together with special force, weighing upon me and pushing the poet in me to the fore. With so much angst welling up in me at the thought of this issue that plagues our nation – indeed, plagues our whole world – I needed to let it out in some way. Typically, I turn to poetry to give me that cathartic release. But if you’ve followed my blog at all and read my poetry, you’ll know that I try to use a lot of striking imagery of somewhat dubious clarity, while maintaining an overall sense of cohesion and theme. Hopefully, it creates a sense of movement, of thought in action, seen just after the point of comprehension… an idea just barely past the threshold of acceptance but not yet set in stone.
To properly convey this burden on my soul, however, my normal style wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something more raw, something that portrayed the shame, horror, and above all the disorienting pain and helplessness of it. Not because I have experienced those horrors myself, but to give me a means to recast my burdened spirit as if through the lens of a victim’s experience, as best I can approximate it.
My typical style presented too much of a coherent narrative for the feelings I needed to release from my own soul, but also to more accurately portray the utter horror of sexual abuse and rape. So I came up with what I’m calling a wordstorm, stringing bits and pieces of a narrative like beads along a necklace of horror-laden cries for release from the burden of abuse. I’m sure this device has been used before, and probably to better effect, but I felt that removing all punctuation and laying it all together as a single block of text best approximated the disorienting, helpless horror. Not only that, but doing so messes with the cadence and pace of the poem, forcing the reader to slow down to discern where each phrase begins and ends and digest it both individually and as a part of the greater narrative, while simultaneously creating the illusion of narrative speed because there is no sentence structure. My goal was that the combination of slowing down to understand simple phrases while yet speeding along to the end of a paragraphs-long sentence would produce a sense of unsettled disorientation, which I feel is key to portraying the raw depth of this issue.
So that explains the structure (or lack thereof) of this poem. To fully realize their artistic power, I feel that these words should be stretched out as a single line, a string of black words on a long sea of white paper… a lonely line of horror on an emotionless background, portraying the isolation that this evil often results in, both psychologically and physically.
But so much for the structure of the poem as an art-form. The words speak for themselves, I think, by illuminating the horror with a light. Not from the outside, but from inside the pain. Whatever we can do to help those who have or are going through this, whatever we can do to stop further abuse, and whatever we can do to kill our own demons – however much is in our power to do, we must do. To those who know the good they should do and do not do it, for them it is sin.
While this poem may do some good, it is not, in itself, enough. Only the gospel can heal these wounds and restore broken minds to peaceful sanity once again. Only the gospel can heal seared consciences and make the heart of a monster feel again.
Only the gospel.
That Christ died for all, to bind up the brokenhearted, to heal the wounded, and to strike down the wicked and make them feel the damning weight of their sin, so that they might turn, and He might heal them as well.
There is grace and healing and restoration in Christ for both victim and perpetrator. Love wins.
There is a bright future for those who are in Christ, no matter the dark shadows of the past. He – He is enough. Not any bit of poetry. My words cannot produce any lasting change. Only Christ can do that. Seek Him where He may be found.

Martin Detwiler

Published on 7 September, 2016. Last updated on

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