Tag Archives: poetry

Trafficking Survivor Writer & Artist Christine Stark

25 Apr

human trafficking, prostitution, christine stark, dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, sexual abuse, native american, ojibwe, minnesota

My sister trafficking/prostitution survivor Christine Stark is an extraordinary writer, poet and visual artist. Her new novel, Nickels A Tale of Dissociation, has been named a finalist for the Annual Lambda Literary Awards, 2011.

In a recent interview with the Bozeman Times Chris discusses what it means to be a survivor:

This is a book most immediately for and about abuse survivors, but it should not be limited to that audience in the same way that, say, James Baldwin should not be limited to gay, African American readers. Everyone can relate to the protagonist because although some of her experiences are specific, there are universal themes in the book, including love and joy and play. A lot of writing and activist work around sexual exploitation wants to focus on just the miserable, abusive aspects of the victims/survivors’ lives, but I feel that does a great disservice. It removes agency from those being hurt, and it can stereotype survivors, reducing them to one-dimensional victims such that “victim” becomes everything about them, thus stripping them of their full humanity.

Nickels is an honest portrayal of someone who must fight like hell just to live; but also, at the same time, takes risk to love and be responsible for a mess that was not her own doing but that she cannot escape. That is one of the most unjust things about abuse: the abused must live with, to one degree or another, the ramifications of the abuser’s actions. She cannot be absolved of responsibility, by spending X number of months in a prison, or visiting a religious leader, or doing penance in some other way. The aftereffects are always present, always causing tremendous pain and confusion and distancing, and often poverty, homelessness, depression, and more abuse. There is always hope, and many do get away and heal, but thanks to Post Traumatic Stress, the past becomes present, often at the most misopportune times. Characters and people do heal, so that the trauma lessens and becomes manageable, but it does not happen overnight. Healing occurs over years, and many of those years are very difficult and painful and confusing.

Read more

You might kill me

7 Feb

I pity you

though you might kill me

 

I am a piano and the keys

at my crotch are seaglass

Worn away by pound

by touch

 

Manhattan makes wraiths

of women like me

At 4 AM this January morning

 

I’ve searched the interstellar dark

even though I’ve heard

Once torn away

like lost summer nights

Time won’t come back.

 

Time lived between my legs

Till they ripped Time out,

leaving me

Only the Immediate

and Eternity

 

In August the wanting sex

from stoop-sitting boys

pulses rhythmic as traffic

Hyacinth kisses shiver in thick

shadows behind their knees

 

Now Ice rusts their throats

 

How many voices are impaled on the

razorwire strangling vacant lots?

 

How many murdered girls cry out

from the park’s dark clarinet?

 

These nights I walk through ice,

dragging sleep meant for men impaled

by the view out their window

Men drowned in constellations

shot dead as they fled the sky

 

Tongues wait in the

fire escape shadows

Torn out like Time

they’ll never speak

 

I am a piano and the

keys at my crotch

are sidewalks

jellyfished with brine

 

I knock hoping you won’t open

but if you do I hope you won’t

see the murdered clarinets

in the dark behind my teeth

 

You’re wearing the thick terry robe

barely tied

Your room moisturized with the luxury

of a gardenia holding absence

 

You give me your fear and

your voice’s glass dust

in a box

You will make me  open carefully

 

I can tell by your eyes

you’ve seen the vacant buildings’

toothless mouths

 

I can tell by the tense of your lips

you’ve heard the murdered girls cry

As vacuumous cold

hides thick within your cheeks

 

The dullness at the windows

is all that remains

of the flypaper that once wrapped you,

That you can’t rinse away

from your sleep

 

I am a mirror that wants to incarnate

All  the tenderness

We’ve never found before it smashes

 

The closer you come the more

Space inside me explodes

against my throat

 

You live in my thighs and aching fingers

a skyscraper of  lack

I rub serpentines into your shoulders

You rub money into my hips

Your pubic hair sticks to my cheek

 

Pinning me to the mattress

Is how you refuse to use a condom

 

This darkness is not as light to us

though sometimes

I see light bubbling

from my breath

During my dives

in the Night underneath you

 

Fling me across the bed

in rips of shipwrecked sail

Till I cling in curling seaweed at your feet

 

I Implore you

 

Throw me back into the Oceanic night

Which is my only Freedom from you

 

Where I wait for  the first

panted breaths between stars

And gulp cold-throated rain

 

This is a sketch of what it feels like to be trafficked in prostitution in Manhattan