Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

Nik Buhler


my grandfather at the family reunion       tells me a joke
Why was the guitar teacher arrested?    Because    he fingered a minor
waves of vicious laughter    uncles, cousins, dads    like a finger
buried in guts    I still feel it today    the men in my family have never been kind
I tell my boyfriend years later    alone and gliding home in his    first car    he can’t understand
why    I am so upset    why    stale menstruation puns buzz    between us like
yellowjackets    or why at night    when he lays me down    shoves his crotch into my ass
slips fingers under sheets    I pretend to be asleep    not that sleep stops him    using my body
like a flashlight that sobs or    the girl from before me    who was his dirty little slut
the boy I liked    in fifth grade    kissed me    as a joke    boys who will just be boys
cheering him on    for pinning tongue    in silent girl’s mouth    four years later
his best friend shoves a hand between my folds    ignores fists clenched in leather couch
failed attempts to play dead    now I am nineteen    new place new school    a six foot feminist
says hi    offers me overpriced cigarettes    and tiny squares of paper
that taste bitter on the tongue    once we’re buried deep in    unfamiliar woods    his thumbs
walk paths I can’t see    to my breast    below fleece legging
despite my lack of shoes    despite cries for my mother    despite the layers of snow
I become everyone I’ve ever been    he is Daniel    he is Jordan    he is Christopher
he is Will    and I am eleven    at the family reunion    and my grandfather
tells me a joke    and I’m the only one who does not laugh