Monday, June 18, 2012

Dustin Brookshire: To the One Who Raped Me

Dustin Brookshire
To the One who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press 2012)
Preorders available on 6/19
$12.00; 34 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-937420-20-8

$1 from every chapbook sold directly through the publisher
will be donated the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center.

I don’t do reviews very often, but I am pleased to feature Dustin’s Brookshire’s chapbook, To the One Who Raped Me, on my blog.

This collection is a straight-forward account of rape.

In 2006, Dustin Brookshire was raped by a former boyfriend. To the One Who Raped Me is a book not just of sexual abuse--an experience that can only be described as hellish--but an attempt to reconcile the past and present. Television and movie images of sexual abuse are used to contrast Hollywood images to real-life trauma. Interspersed between poems with titles such as “Law and Order SVU,” “Wreckage,” and “My Therapist Asks What Image Haunts Me,” are statistics and commentary on rape, which act as section breaks.  

"There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds in every year. So: 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes to one sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about one every two minutes."
These breaks work well to give the reader a moment of pause and reflection.

Dustin’s poems are economical and direct. His acute self-awareness overcomes any hint of sentimentality. His narrative style speaks volumes in handling the delicate subject of male rape as one poem flows into the next. He makes this very personal experience feel significant and relevant, reminding us of the deep importance of poetry and how it helps us make sense of difficult subject matter.

My favorite poem in the collection is the title poem, which is also the final poem.


I cringe now when there's a rape scene
in a movie.  My stomach cramps
like a bully has hit me.
I turn cold.
Beads of sweat form a crown
of shame across my forehead.

I want your mother to know—
to question where she went wrong.
I want you to stare into her eyes
as she asks you.  Feel her pain.   

I often think of ways you could die—
car wreck, allergic reaction, a robbery.
My therapist says it is normal
to have these thoughts, to want you
to die, but  important to admit
your suffering won't bring me happiness.

What I want is impossible:
to erase the moment after,
when you looked at me and smiled.  

Sibling Rivalry will take preorders starting June 19, with a publication date of August 7. For every chapbook purchased through Sibling Rivarly’s website, the publisher will donate $1 to the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center.

Bravo to Dustin for turning his pain into poetry, and helping others in the process of healing. Visit Dustin's blog at

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