photo of a starry night sky

Why Did He Stop? by Kristin Garth

Note: This poem first appeared in Feminine Collective.

CW: sexual assault

I ask myself a lot: why did he stop?
Did I make too much noise? Did he
hear other boys stir, their sleeping bags flop,
anticipating eavesdrops? Too dark to see
what he was turning me into beneath
black nylon, stars. Do choked sobs travel far?
A body he pulled from a crowd asleep,
attacked — was I too loud, muffled and marred?
I cried the very first moment. He liked
wet things that weep. I still see his pale arms
some nights I cannot sleep. Two decades psych
evaluations of his limited harm
dissecting desire to tear me apart. 
It’s not: why did he stop? Why did he start?

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart & Best of the Net nominated sonnet stalker. Her poetry has stalked magazines like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, formercactus, Occulum, and many more. She has six chapbooks including Shakespeare for Sociopaths (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Puritan U (Rhythm & Bones Press March 2019), and The Legend of the Were Mer (Thirty West Publishing House March 2019). Her full length, Candy Cigarette, is forthcoming in April 2019 (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), and she has a fantasy collaborative full length, A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony, forthcoming in June (Rhythm & Bones Lit). Follow her on Twitter  (@lolaandjolie) and visit her website (

Lead image: “star gazing” (via Flickr user Luke Cureton)