This week, a poem by Sophie Robinson.


biggest loser


ok so stupid feelings
will take their hold
at this moment
& every. like the whole
time i say i’m anything but
angry i’m covering or feeling
sorry enough for you to pretend
i wasn’t
full of rage
from the beginning.
five years old a boy
touched my future cunt
i mean just some flesh
but i knew
he touched it & i thought a while
came into school & decided
no sir
him face down on a table
& me face to face
with my sad divorcing parents
getting told
i lacked discipline
& should stay quieter.
i’m twenty nine now &
since i was five i have been
sexually assaulted
many times
first time: bad boyfriend
in the woods
second time: bad boyfriend
in his room
third time: some boy
got his dick out
at the trocadero
millennium eve
forced my head
onto it
& i had lied
about where i was
& when i started
running i didn’t stop
until i was on the train
home & watched the fireworks
thru the window bursting
thru my chest quietly
minus a fistful
of hair.
fourth time: my drink
got spiked. fifth time: my drink
got spiked. sixth time: my drink
got spiked. seventh time: got
groped. eighth time: got groped.
ninth time: drink got spiked.
tenth: late & drunk & high & lost
two guys with hands
shoved up my skirt & thru
my tights & into my pants & in
there like really inside me
all my winter wasted
months on pills & they tore
my only coat & i was always cold.
eleventh time: a guy felt
me up at a bus stop
for a long time & i cried
& stayed still the whole
time he was doing it.
twelfth time: a guy felt me
up on the tube & i just felt
mild anger like almost
nothing. thirteenth time: a guy
put his hand between
my legs as i was walking
home from work & the police
drove me thru south london
to find the guy
but every guy was the guy
& nobody got lost
but me. fourteenth time:
a bar in stoke newington.
i was high on coke & new love
& in my best leather skirt.
i told him: don’t touch me
& he touched me again
& then i said i said
don’t touch me. he told me
to go fuck myself
& he smacked
me in the face
with the back of his hand
& his ring cut
my cheek
& everyone there
more than 100 people
i guess
did nothing:
did not help
or act as witness
or stop anything
that happened.
i am up to number
twenty or so now
but i just really can’t
be bothered to tell you
any more about my times
as a boring or bored or hurt
person in that way
other than to say:
it did hurt
most of the time
& does
& i have not reached
the last time
this will happen
even nearly
& probably that bit
makes me feel
like i have lost
the most.


SOPHIE ROBINSON is a poet. She lives between London and Norwich, where she teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of A and The Institute of Our Love in Disrepair. Recent work has appeared in n+1, The White Review, Poetry Review, The Brooklyn Rail and Ploughshares.

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One Response to “A Poem by Sophie Robinson”

  1. 17 November 2017 at 5:18 AM #

    This is a terrific poem; I’m particularly impressed at how it conveys, by miserable enumeration, the remorseless, endemic nature of such assaults, and leaves us in no doubt that this kind of violation, and continuing numb fear of it, is the norm for many women. It manages to do this and skewer a certain kind of liberal patriarchal complacency (‘Yes, I abhor this kind of behaviour; but I’ve never engaged in it, or seen it – much – and it’s not really that common, is it?’) The media line, basically. Plus, it does all of that without being preachy. At the same time, without parading some version of the traditional confessional lyric ego, the account is full of damning specifics, embedded in lived experience, and this gives it its amazing slightly deadpan harrowing pathos. I’d like to give it to my Level 3 Further Poetry students to read and think about next week; they’ll be discussing and writing political / satirical poetry, and this is just about within their generational language range (i.e. twentysomethings), unlike the rather dated examples I’ve supplied them with. I’m pretty sure ‘biggest loser’ would extend their understanding of that area – challenge, impress, and move them, hopefully, to write.

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