In America by Carrie Rudzinski


The first hitchhiker
I ever picked up
I dropped off in the wrong place.
We were both backpackers –
young, dirty, and foreign.
I was so excited to help,
I didn’t even realize my mistake
until I was too far
to turn around.
I’d left him on a busy overpass –
gray eyes and tired hands
to search for another way out.

The first time I hitchhiked
I kept my three inch knife
clutched in a fist
inside my bag the whole time.
They were the only ones who stopped:
thick set country boys,
dogs barking in the bed
of their black pick up truck.
I was suddenly so grateful
for my baggy clothes –
my unwashed hair –
their harmless questions –
but I never shook the doubt in my gut –
and I didn’t look back when I finally got out.

You could not pay me enough money
to hitchhike in America.

In America, no one looks at you
and everyone stares.
In America, fear is a gender
I am too familiar with.
In America, the street is a river
and all of the men are drowning.
All of the men need you to save them.
All of the men need you.
All of the men have been raised to believe
women are supposed to fuck them.
All of the men expect you to fuck them.
In America, she was asking for it.
In America, I walk with my keys shoved between my knuckles.
All of my retorts burn in the wildfire of my throat.
My eyes are sidewalks.
My body: a used noose.
Every voice is a corner –
a dog fight –
a humiliation.

America says, “That poor girl in India –
only in the Third World –
how could six men rape her
and no one do anything?”

In America, I walk down the street
and a boy leans out of his car
to scream “Yo Slut! Pull down your hood!”
In America, I am with my boyfriend
when a man hisses in my ear
“Hey sexy”
so that he and I have a secret.
So that he and I are he and I.
So that I will flinch when the next man
stares for too long.
In America, a man pretended to masturbate on me
during a poetry show
because I was too much talk
and not enough take.
Because my mouth was a siren –
A hive –
Because no one called him
a misogynist after the show but me.

In America, we are taught
to scream the word “FIRE”
if being assaulted because no one
will help us if we yell “RAPE.”

In America, six members
of the high school football team
can show photos of the girl
they pissed on
and raped
and no one will do anything.
Their male authority figures will condone it.
Rape is an American Past Time: A National Sport.
In America, she shouldn’t have gotten so sloppy.
In America, boys will be boys.
In America, twenty two elected Senators can oppose
The Violence Against Women Act.
In America, when you type the word “rape”
into Google the first option to pop up

In America, my body belongs
to the first person who demeaned it:
the boy who broke up with me
because I wouldn’t have sex with him.
The one who taught me to find something
to burn. To mold. To shrink. To hate –
My worth stolen like a bicycle in the night –
a yellow blur in the dark.

In America, I am always searching
for another way out.
In America, I am always on fire.
I am always on fire.

© Carrie Rudzinski 2013



Carrie is a  full time travelling artist, and award winning poet.

More of her work can be seen at

carrie_rudzinski Polaroid



In 2002, while seated on a beanbag in a crowded poetry venue Natalie knew her life would be far different than she envisioned. She had never shared one of her poems and even writing outside of a journal was new. With a few poems, dedication and a bunch of passion Natalie went on to make the Los Angeles Slam team, get accepted to NACA and book a full college tour and run a monthly poetry venue, The Siren Collective. Natalie soon began developing her own curriculum and her love of teaching emerged stronger than ever. At the recommendation of a fellow poet, the legendary Stan Lathan asked her to facilitate a poetry based educational event, after a job well done he followed with an offer to join the cast of Debbie Allan's Def Poetry ALL star show. The spirit of contribution always extremely central to Natalie’s life work she continued to support Da’ Poetry Lounge nearly every week since 2003. As a result of that commitment and dedication in 2010, she become the first female producer and host in the 15-year history of Da Poetry Lounge (the nations largest weekly poetry venue). That same year, Natalie developed and facilitated innovative poetry programs for under-resourced youth as Director of Poetry for Collective Voices Foundation, teaching eight classes a week at five different schools. Natalie is currently teaching her private workshop, Reconnecting: Vulnerability and Integrity, as well as in high school classrooms throughout Los Angeles. From April-December 2013, Natalie has committed to releasing chapbooks to further push her creativity and release some of the poems that would otherwise stay on her external hard drive. Natalie seeks to spend more time creating, collaborating and teaching in the years to come. She currently lives in Los Angeles. She enjoys love notes, working in the middle of the night, black tea, and spending Sunday’s in love.

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