Stephanie Kaylor

Sugar in the Raw


He told me he was writing a screenplay

about a gothic girl who gets kidnapped by a pedophile

except it wasn’t really kidnapping

because she couldn’t

care, it wasn’t any better any worse

than home, than school, than all the other faceless men she’d seen beneath their masks, their pants, and you

couldn’t really call him a pedophile because he’d

never done it before

he just saw here there where

no one noticed she didn’t show up

to her classes, no one noticed

she could no longer make eye contact with the face of the world,

no one noticed

that they noticed from the start

but didn’t want to take her hand

in their own, manicured & still freshly



“It was a shopping mall!” I tell him

when he says he doesn’t know

how or where, just why.

I tell him she’s fourteen at the coffee shop, because if there’s anything she hopes adulthood is

it’s drinking coffee

and being left alone

and she can walk around and not hear the taunting

but she’s too young to like the taste

and she gets a peach iced tea instead

pouring in packets of sugar in the raw

so she can crunch it like the candy reward of doing something right

when she’s only heard “wrong”

and he too hears it all

while she runs away wondering why no one intervened but not wondering

why she needed to go to the shopping mall to be within thirty feet of another beating heart, to feel its distant warmth

and he sees her again



“It was the shopping mall,” I told him

and he liked it

for his story

staring up at the ceiling as us writers do

grateful for a couple words

in Scene Two

like pocket change you might use when there isn’t enough in your wallet

to get a soda from the vending machine even though you’re not all that thirsty

but drink half of before it goes flat

and you toss it out


my body


a canvas for you to read in its goose bump brail

but you never learned brail so you read the language as your own­

and maybe one day I’ll learn it too

and let it stick like the sweat to the neck of a man

smoking cigarettes in a shopping mall parking lot

graying his shirt like the seats of the Cadillac he’ll

pull it off in with the swiftness of a man who knows

he doesn’t need to say “don’t tell.”


Stephanie Kaylor is a student at European Graduate School whose research interests include feminist theories of relationally and narrative structure. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Queen Mob’s Teahouse, BlazeVOX, and The Willow Review. She is currently based in the Northeastern region of the US where she is likely hibernating at this moment.

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