Committee Work

The football players,

            when accused of raping

the drunk girl, said she

            had approached them,

pulled their pants down

            and sucked their penises

into her mouth.

            One claimed he was unable

to achieve an erection

            despite her efforts.

Another felt inappropriate,

            zipped up, and walked out.

One was seen behind her

            with his pants down,

but none could say

            whose fluids were found

in her vagina

            or her underwear or her ass.

The school had no interest

            in DNA. The committee

closed the case, and

            the football players went on

to an undefeated season,

            trampling team after team.

They ran joyfully,

            faster than the opposition,

faster even than all

            the drunk girls who rush

to their knees, who bend over

            pool tables and couches,

no longer content

            to just ask for it,

no, those bitches

            reach out to take it.

Francesca Bell

first appeared in River Styx

forthcoming in Bright Stain (Red Hen Press, 2019)

Augsburger Allgemeine

Augsburger Allgemeine

I’m so excited to share this article from the Augsburger Allgemeine about German poet Max Sessner and about my translations of his work. For those who don’t read German, the article details the story of how I came to translate Max’s poems and of how stunningly quickly I’ve been able to place the translations in English-language literary journals.

Read More

YOU CAN CALL ME MA'AM, for the ladies at Laguna Beach Lit Fest!

YOU CAN CALL ME MA'AM, for the ladies at Laguna Beach Lit Fest!

Having turned forty-two, having menstruated
lo these thirty years, most often
on my hands and knees or curled, drugged
and sobbing, around the hot water bottle.
Having borne three children and been stretch-marked
and bloated beyond recognition. Having pushed
those babies from my womb as each skull crowned
like live coals against my perineum
and lodged for good measure up my ass.

Read More

Maybe Time

Maybe Time

Every couple of years, I strip down to my underthings and let my dermatologist and her two assistants check my entire body for skin cancer. I admit I feel weird and a little chilly, being the only nearly naked person in the room, but I have become basically comfortable in my body and benign toward it. I even have the illusion, before the doctor arrives to examine me, that I am still, well, kind of hot. That, though I am clearly a middle-aged woman who has borne three children and nursed for ten years, the possibility exists that someone could find me attractive. (And I mean someone besides Mr. Bell, who has a contractual obligation to fulfill.)

Read More

As Pretty Does

As Pretty Does

I spend a lot of time lately thinking about appearances. Maybe because, at forty-six, I’m chuffing along on degradation’s slow train, time holding me in its lap and having its way with me. Or maybe it’s because I’m the mother of a teen-aged son. I don’t know if teen-aged boys are more attached to physical manifestations than the rest of us, but I find them unabashed and enthusiastic, brazenly unashamed of their judgments of other people’s bodies.

Read More