Rape Revenge

Before leaving Eau Claire I met the manager
he was a fat sweaty one
in a suit no less
an antique fan – metal blades, two-bar cross guard –
blew straight onto him
across the desktop
where loose documents rose and rustled
straining under the paper weight,
an imprinted cobblestone brick
pried from the old road outside
where the stony tarmac had weathered away…
I got my trouble from him
this overweight castaway from another time
like a detective noir
like someone Bogie might shakedown
and so was I – shaking him
like a stubborn tree, but the fruit fell
my slumlord landlady’s digits
seven crispy little numbers
normally he’d never divulge that information
but the bitch was a bitch
to tenants and hired men alike
me and tubby had common ground: grievance
the linchpin of a solid union
and away with it I went.

Then in L.A. as I went
from flush to pallid
draining of cash and vitality
as always, as I sat with the phone
a decision to make
security on the line in the form of a deposit
I pushed buttons and fired down the line
it was always a Canadian whiskey thing
neurons bleeping dull rageful transmissions
“Karen Knutsen?”
“Yes,” she said because in Wisconsin
you don’t ask, “Who’s askin’?”
you say ‘yes’ and get what’s coming
it came from me, polite and measured
and then lawyered and threatful
legal entitlements
3 times my money down
and she had her reasons
for keeping my deposit too:
4 gallons of bleach to white
the nicotine stained walls
warped linoleum from ill-advised flushes
water damage to the unit below
door off hinges
furniture left behind
urine stained and burnt carpet
nail holes and spaghetti on the ceiling
O, how she went on… I hung up.

Drunker, two nights later and reaggrieved,
“I will take my three hundred bucks
out of your Swedish ass
absentee cunt
your days of feeling safe are over
think about your daughters negligent bitch
security isn’t free, baby,
and who knows better than you?”
I hung up
my Indian roommate warned me
rape revenge – not a good plan
“Well,” I said
“excuse me if I don’t take the advice
of a man whose people
never got an acre or dollar back
stolen from them!” and the truth is
I was offended a Native American
didn’t understand my outrage, I know,
I was only talking about three bills
and not a continent, but…
he should have supported me,
and he didn’t and I broke down,
crying, called landlady Knudsen back
and told her not to worry
that I wouldn’t rape her
or her loved ones
and that seemed to settle it
there and forever
me and what I’m capable of
very little
and because I was so far away
I knew I couldn’t assault her
not sexually anyway, and then
and so and because of that
I left L.A. back home
back to Eau Claire
and like magic
on Broadway and Seven
that old dump burned
it burned for me
to my delight
my dancing delight in the flames
the sprinkling ash and fleeing rats
O, how I could have raped a nation
by that Indian bonfire
smoke signals of my shame


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