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Heather Fowler



She has a friend whose father raped him,
flipped him like a small lobster his grandfather

lulled to quiet on his mother's kitchen floor.
How hard it is to know if this, the quiet rape

recurring on bunks, then caused his latent genius,
escapist tendency to fall to drugs or ruin so pretty--

but the man resulting was a marvel, a saint in modern
rags, the sort a woman could turn to, in the middle of the night,

rip-roaring drunk and torn ragged over other men, but
curled to him for comfort. Come hold me, this woman

might say, knowing there is no sex he offers, just withdrawal
and heat and mercy, for he has been womanized before

and knows how it feels to be turned and turned over, taken
without offering, bloody, broke-assed without falling--falling

again and again, for anything but trust or love--because the
pain wants him back, so he takes it from others, borrows it

to remember the damage in his own afflictions, to relearn it,
so that as he kisses and holds his friend, so chastely,

he can know the trump to overcome desire is to be the martyr,
not the satyr, to walk away from that father fucking--each time

by lobster crawling, past adjusting, wanting and releasing in each
moment he can touch or heal without groping, take a broken thing,

mend it, cry his infant, boyhood self—
pull her closer, draw her in.


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Heather Fowler received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. She has taught composition, literature, and writing-related courses at UCSD, California State University at Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College. Her debut story collection SUSPENDED HEART was published by Aqueous Books in December of 2010.  Her work has been published online and in print in the US, England, Australia, and India, as well as recently nominated for both the storySouth Million Writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, was recently featured at MiPOesias, The Nervous Breakdown, poeticdiversity, and The Medulla Review, and has been selected for a joint first place in the 2007 Faringdon Online Poetry Competition. Please visit her website at

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