Lucky by Nikki Blak


(click for audio)

It was once said
That the only reason
I had never met the back
Of a boyfriends hand
Was simply because he had chosen
Not to introduce me
I was lucky
Unlike so many women
Landed face first
Into the ridges of a lover’s knuckles
And shouldn’t I be grateful
Not proud

To have the distinction

Of never being battered
To wear the word “unscathed” like a badge

Across my intact face


Spat in my direction

Like dyke or virgin

In a high school hallway

As if I should hang my head

In shame

Like I should wear a busted lip

In place of my smile

Like I ain’t a woman, until beaten down

As if I ain’t never been kissed before

Like I ain’t been outside my neighborhood

Like life cannot be so simple

Like you ain’t known love until

Your blood has mingled with the sweat

In your hair

And the floor has become

More familiar than the bed

You share with your abuser

Like men cannot be

Innately, consistently,

and unappologetically


For no reason other than

Simply because

They love you

Like I can’t un-do my Great

Grandmother’s mistakes

Like I can’t walk away

Or run away, depending

On what the occasion calls for

Like I can’t call for help

Like I can’t protect myself

Like I would forget

The sharp set of knives

In the kitchen drawer

For me,
There was never any decision to be made
No option to contemplate
Just the merciful restraint
Of men who would string a necklace
Of bruises
Around my clavicle
At the first opportunity
If I hadn’t just been so fuckin’ lucky

There is no place to stash a choice
Between skin and boning
Under the corset of femininity
I’m supposed to cinch myself into
All the better to keep my ribs
Without fractures and in their proper places
Hold my guts inside my body
Keep me propped upright
Only able to bind my daughters’

Masterfully crafted feet
For the beauty of tradition
So that she, like me,

And every woman before her
Will never able to leave

I must understand
That it had nothing to do
With the fact that

I demanded little more
For myself
From myself
And everyone else
Than respect
Not necessarily to be liked
Or even loved right
But to simply keep my face
In one piece
It had nothing to do
With me escaping into the street
Long after midnight one morning
In the midst of an argument
To avoid his anger
Nothing to do with being 18
And breaking up with my boyfriend
Because I recognized the danger

In being called a bitch
Nothing to do with
Unanswered phone calls

And forever ignored voicemails

In the days following
An incident in which a male friend

Leaned in through my open driver’s side window

So that he could properly wring my neck
I guess
I’m lucky
If only my clitoris

Were instead, a penis
I would have a say
As to how I should be treated
Only the abuser has a choice
And it is enough
For the rest of us
To simply wish
That he would decide

not to beat us


To dodge the runaway wrecking ball

Of his fist

Not by ducking

But just by leaving

Before he has the chance

To swing