Dealing with the aftermath of trauma—emotional or physical—can shape a person forever. In Kayla Sargeson’s poem “Hellwave” the speaker—whose body has been previously traumatized, “cracked open like glass”—rebels against that pain by inflicting more pain upon her body, but on her own terms. By riding the hellwave, she wants to eliminate the space that’s been violated, wants to fill it with things that can only temporarily hurt her: punk rock, drugs, tattoos. This hellwave is smeared with motorcycle grease, heroin and semen, and it leads Sargeson’s speaker into a punk rock oblivion.

Kayla Sargeson Hell wave

by Kayla Sargeson

Twelve tattoos and can’t stop
want my body covered/
no space for that night at the fraternity house:
body cracked open like glass.
I want a needle in my skin.
I’m the queen wasp thick and pissed off.
My friends say girl you’re on the fringe/
father likes to get me drunk/show off:
This is my smart daughter. The pretty one’s at home.

I know the push of a hand on the back of the head/
faceful of cock/baby no teeth
do what I tell you
/stepfather’s raised fist: bitch I’ll hit you.
At the Rock Room, for a tit grab
it’s all-you-can-drink-all-night.
I’ll suck you off for a joint.
I’m looking for my studded Sid Vicious cliché:
skinny punk with the bass guitar.
He’s got the chain wallet, leans
against his amp and almost looks alive.
He rides a Fat Boy/he’ll get me out of here.
We’ll ride the hellwave screaming.

Rebellious Women in Poetry (brought to you by rebellious women) is made possible by rebellious women. Kayla Sargeson is the author of Mini Love Gun, forthcoming from Main Street Rag. She earned an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago, where she served as a co-editor for Columbia Poetry Review. She co-curates the MadFridays reading series and is the poetry editor for Pittsburgh City Paper’s online feature Chapter & Verse. “Hellwave” first appeared at TattoosDay, a tattoo blog, in a feature on tattooed poets. More about Kayla’s tattoos, and the poem, can be found here. Introduction is by Jessica Dyer, a writer and editor who lives in Chicago.

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