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poetry Committee Work

He said, she said: The effects of sexual exploitation of women on campus depends on the credibility of one's point of view. Francesca Bell's poem "Committee Work" unveils this not-so-delicate dialogue.

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Committee Work

By Francesca Bell

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,
and 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’s poems appear in many journals, including B O D Y, ELLE, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, and Zone 3. Her translations appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Circumference, Four by Two, and The Massachusetts Review. She co-translated Shatha Abu Hnaish’s book of poems, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017).Red Hen Press will publish her first collection, Bright Stain, in 2019.