was he ever

poetry by Josefine Stargardt

was he ever

was he ever violent – physically or sexually?

she dreams of his hands that touched, touched, touched

as he branded her neck with purple kisses


she dreams of her wrists, the sheer weight

of his body, how once or twice

she could not catch her breath


are you sure you don’t like it?

she leaves her body before he does

buries herself – the blankets muffle his pleading


when she refuses to fuck him

his silence stains the mattress

you’d think after two weeks I could expect


his come on implanted deep inside of her

his tears and tongue grow poison ivy in her brain

her no is a leaf that crumbles too soon


she dreams of his hands that touched, touched, touched

but was he ever, truly, violent?

Six Signatures

poetry by Josefine Stargardt

Six Signatures

I hear myself speaking, but this is not my tongue, cannot be my tongue,

my tongue is speechless.


It is 11am on a Tuesday and I am naming my abuser,

grabbing his fault by the hair and dragging it up from my gut


buried ten months deep. I shake with helpless laughter

he did this to me


entered my life through a crack in my heart

like trickling water, he wore me down


then picked me up and put me on a throne

long live the queen 


queen of illusions, queen of nothing knock down the throne

and throw her to the dogs


a pattern on repeat, knit a chord 

thick with lies, with hidden fights and scars that never show


tied to his side

until I broke – 


and left him. 


my body a map, my body a river polluted 

searing hot showers and waiting for blood


good god, let there not be a baby.


A person on the phone, this person breathing, breathing.

Fuck. Then breathing and breathing again. 


An hour on the phone, then days in the loop

we believe you, a statement and six signatures


now waiting, dreading, telling myself

he does not know where you live anymore

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Josefine Stargardt

Josefine Stargardt is a bilingual poet based in Germany and the UK. Her work has been published in Binde der Welt die Schnürsenkel zu (2016), the anthology of the Treffen Junger Autoren, and other German anthologies. One of her poems has also appeared in Met Five (2019), the yearly anthology of Cardiff Metropolitan University.