Two Poems

Joanne Holdridge

A university lecture hall with the lights off. The image is taken from the side of the curved rows of seats looking toward the windows on the opposite wall. There are three sets of windows: all three with 4 square panes at the top and two sets with taller rectangular panes at the bottom. Green foliage is visible outside. Sunlight reflects off the rows of seats, which face toward the front at the right (out of frame).

Photo Credit: Romana Klee/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Before #MeToo

He strode into class
as if he’d just stepped down
from his high horse to enlighten
lesser mortals of our real purpose here
when I knew, knew he was the one
you’d tried to kill yourself over

I watched through narrowed lids
pulse in my forehead throbbing
sat in that room listening to him
twice a week for sixteen weeks
but didn’t get up and walk out
didn’t drop the class and add another
didn’t stop wanting a piece of him, to get back
for you, because you couldn’t

When it came down to it
I didn’t string him up in the garage
hang him like a side of beef from the rafters
still haven’t gotten
my pound of flesh, the tongue I wanted
to rip out to give you back yours
all I did that night he was sure
he had me, was say No, I won’t go home
with you, and I swung off down the hill
my whole body shaking, hands clenched
and he was alone in the rain
with his sorry self
and that had to be enough


When the Email Comes

from the man who raped me
the subject line reads: old friend
The message says he’s been looking
for a long time and finally found me
through an old poetry journal.
He hopes I haven’t forgotten him
and though it’s been decades
he still remembers me.

I call my brother in a cold sweat
feeling as afraid as I did at fourteen
when Roli pinned me to the white shag
carpeting of his living room floor
shoved himself inside me, grinding my left cheek
into the rug, saying women like this

I can barely get the words out of my throat
to tell Freddy about the email
and how much I hate being found
but he just orders me to hit delete
says there’s no point in my thinking
about any of that again


Joanne Holdridge lives in Devens, MA and has recently published poems in Coal City Review, Illuminations, The Midwest Quarterly, and has appeared in a previous issue of Toasted Cheese. She has work forthcoming in Green Hills Literary Lantern and has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. Email: joanne[at]

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