When god is a man inside my mouth
1. Missy and I sit on the floor, two young women with bruises over our arms. Men call her Baywatch after the TV show because she is pretty with blonde hair. She’s not voluptuous like Pam Anderson. She’s under one-hundred pounds with skin like glass but she doesn’t break not even when the cocaine makes her seize. A pain between her legs—a memory of motion
chipped walls that no one can see through
women in the corners with parts
of men in their mouths.
2. When I was little I believed I was the prettiest girl in the whole wide world
My daddy told me so He sang it to me
Daddy’s baby, daddy’s girl
Prettiest one in the whole wide world
3. Firecracker tells me to take off my shoe
a piece of crack has fallen in it, but hasn’t fallen in it, just like snags in carpet look like a rock—
naked women smoking lint—
Her fingers dig in skin and fake leather
smoke stinks like turpentine
Uncle Jesse (he isn’t my uncle) old man with pot belly and Firecracker sucks his dick
right in front of me right after me
4. Rahab—insolence, pride. Or rāḥāb-N, the god has opened/widened the womb A
woman with an elastic womb for seed, for cock,
for men—not babies—to fit inside
The harlot of Jericho called by God and redeemed by God
She hung a red rope out of her window
The blood of Christ
She’s listed in Matthew as an ancestor of Jesus
5. Does this mean Jesus loves me?
6. As a child, snaggletooth, speech impediment, I called myself “Titty” instead of “Kitty” which was short for Katherine. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d say, “One of those women who take off their clothes and the men all clap.”
7. When I left the treatment center with the young blonde woman, the counselors begged her not to go. Told her I was a real junky. Told her I could be dead inside some shooting gallery in less than a week. She and I left on foot. Circled downtown Memphis like a drain. Men bought her and took her to a hotel. I refused to go, still in denial of what I had become. I walked around the slums near St Patrick’s Cathedral. A man offered me a hit, but a hit is never free. And then I was on my back looking up into trees, blinded by eyes that blacked out the stars.
8. Rahab, harlot of Jericho. The whore of Babylon—did she have a name? The hooker who washed Jesus’ feet. The one often confused with Mary Magdalene,
but Mary suffered from demons not dicks.
9. What does a prostitute look like?
Dolly Parton, all glitz and feathers in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
whore with a voice of an angel
my favorite movie when I was five
The soundtrack in constant rotation on my Fisher-Price record player
10. When I was nineteen and drove in circles on the I-40 loop around Memphis, Dead and Gone, my favorite punk band, cranking over my speakers You’ll never get out of this town, you’ll never get out, I saw a woman waving down cars, holding her arm like it was broken. I stopped. She got in. Some man had broken her arm at the Rainbow Inn, a place with rooms by the hour. She didn’t want to go to the hospital. Her white shirt swallowed her skinny body and her blue jeans were soured by sweat. She said the word rape. She said the police said a gal like me couldn’t be raped. She held her right arm crooked in pain. I took her to Brooks Road. To the road near the airport where women walk around and sell themselves for cheap, for money, for crack. To the place she knew.
Is it me?
12. When the man bent me over and said don’t tell anyone about this
The house on Holmes the driveway curves
to the back behind the house
the wind blows
and leaves sweep
the concrete red leaves
brown ones that crunch under my feet
I said I wanted to go
but once paid for there are no returns.
13. No one clapped.
Kat Moore was the winner of Profane Journal's 2016 Nonfiction Prize. Her poems can be found in Permafrost, Maudlin House, Souvenir, and decomP. She has essays in Hippocampus, Blunderbuss, Whiskey Island, Yemassee, Salt Hill, New South, Pithead Chapel, and others. One of her essays was a finalist in the 2017 Best of Net. Another essay is in the anthology Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine forthcoming from the University of Nebraska press.