Gargoyle 4
cover collage by Gary Peabody
Publication date 12/20/1976

The Reluctant Rapist: Everybody's Ex-Lover

E. Ethelbert Miller

I am not in her body
I am not in the alley
when the police enter
with their nightsticks
erected in their hands
I am in Elaine’s house
preparing for sex
love or whatever
comes my way

it’s an indoor affair

she is willing
but I think it’s all
quite foolish
how she is exposing
herself to me like film


she turns out the light
I want to put
my clothes back on
I have no desire to perspire

I want to sit on the edge
of her bed
read poems
make love with words
the way we did in the

a tall policeman
is asking her to describe
what happened
how did it all begin

she says
[space] “I can still
feel him . . .”

I am not in her body

I wish I had answers
or explanations
as to why
I am kissing Elaine’s
lips and eyes and fingers
and nipples and stomach
and . . .

the police
are taking her
down to headquarters
to ask more questions
to find a suspect

someone runs
into the alley
with a camera

she covers
her face like film
protecting itself

this is the picture:

my back is to
the camera

Elaine is screaming

I am forcing myself
Between her legs

the darkness
of the alley
is muffling
her voice

you can’t hear it
in the picture

what you can hear
is a short policeman
talking to a tall one


“rape is silent like someone you
don’t know
or someone you do
know who you never
thought it could
happen to

is sometimes quick
sometimes long
it can happen at
anytime to anyone
women never remember
it beginning
they always remember
it never ending
men say women
go around looking
to be raped
men never
know what it’s like
to be raped
until they go
to prison”

Elaine is lying
on the bed
the room is like
a dark alley

I am standing
over her with
my nightstick
in my hand

I am a tall man
listening to
a short one talk
inside my head

“rape is sometimes
quick sometimes
it can happen at
anytime to anyone”

This is an
indoor affair

a poem taken
from a picture