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By Linda Eve Diamond 

The victim was her own and only witness. 

She took a stand. She swore. 


She told the truth, “So help me,” 

she cried, “help me…” 

as she realized she was on trial.


Witness this box of questions:


                 …and, of course, the questions of concern
                            for his reputation.

The peering jury and public listened
for yarns to spin, threads baring raw skin,

sarcastic twists, dim wits, laughable quotes, 

good sound bites—ones with teeth.


The chorus sang in full disharmony,

that she wasn’t coming off well

as she was…

   too quiet, too weak, too forceful, too loud, 

   too robotic, too angry, too shrill, too cold, too hot,

   too trashy, too plain, too flashy, too buttoned-up, 

   too emotional, too unemotional, too clever, too dumb, 

   too much, too little, too straight down the middle 

                                                 .…and that was her problem.


Credible evidence was, incredibly, dismissed. 

Justice was assaulted, publicly, for all to see. 


The offensive defense celebrated 

the gripping courtroom trauma

and successful persecution 

of the victim. 


The victim’s voice had wrung out 

and dried up, as she fell back

into a shattered reflection. 


She took a seat. She swore,

to herself, a cut-throat vow 

of self-preserving silence. 

This poem was originally published by Tuck Magazine on October 10, 2018.

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