Poems by Maddie Ketchem

Maddie Ketchem is a published poet and author whose work is featured in Indiana’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, and the Genesis, Spring 2017 edition. She attended Indiana University and currently lives in Indianapolis with her fiancé and two cats.

If I Count Them

I was five.
It was during naptime in Kindergarten
We were all lying on cots with our stuffed animals
(Mine was Julie Bear)
The teachers were pacing between the cots,
Back and forth
Back and forth
Back and forth
A little boy next to me – I can’t remember his name –
Said “I’ll let you feel mine
if you let me feel yours.”
I didn’t respond, I was confused
Seconds later his small hands were unzipping
My forest-green corduroy pants.
If I Count Them,
my Methodist school would think I made it up for attention.
If I Count Them, That Was One.
I was twenty.
He had “IFD” on the front of his t-shirt
For some reason that made me trust him.
If I Count Them,
I might never trust another man.
If I Count Them, That Was Two.
I was twenty-one.
My fiancée and I were at my parents’ house
They were upstairs sleeping
So was my baby sister
I said “no”
He didn’t listen
He raped me on the floor with my family asleep upstairs.
If I Count Them,
my fiancée would leave me and I would be alone.
If I Count Them, That Was Three.
I was twenty-one.
My fiancée had left me anyway and I was alone.
I was at a party after the Initiation ceremony
Of my co-ed fraternity
I disclosed my third to another girl at the party
One of my Brothers
Instead of getting justice for the third
A different “Brother” stumbled into the bathroom
Where I was washing my hands
He turned the lights off
He stuck his tongue down my throat
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t yell
I tried to push him away and finally succeeded
He spat at me “Yeah, you liked that. It’s all you’re getting tonight, slut.”
He turned and left
Later that night, I caught him leaving the party
I punched him square on his nose
And broke my hand – his nose was fine.
If I Count Them,
I would only have broken hands.
If I Count Them, That Was Four.
I was twenty-one.
If I ever reported it, people would say it was during my “Wild Phase”
I was a slut
I was a binge-drinker
This memory is hazier, brought to me by a fog
Made of white wine, marijuana, and Zoloft
What I remember is being cold on the balcony
Outside a party at the lofts on the corner of Indiana Avenue and 10 th
My friends were inside
But I was alone in the cold spring air with a man
And the taste of him forced down my throat
I don’t know the color of his skin, hair, or eyes
But I can’t get his taste out of my mouth
If I Count Them,
people would count my drinks, compare the two numbers.
If I Count Them, That Was Five.
I stopped counting.
If you’re like me, you probably did, too.

The Second Sparrow

My lungs filled with concrete the second I realized that he was going to rape me.
I’d trusted his military dog tags,
His tattoo of a cross,
His “IMFD” (Indianapolis Metropolitan Fire Department) t-shirt,
His fucking Tinder profile—
All very critical mistakes; each mistake filled my lungs with more sticky cement.
He said he was in town on business,
asked me to meet him at his hotel.
“We’ll go out somewhere, there are some restaurants nearby.”
I drove to the Best Western
on the northside of Indianapolis,
then parked in the cold January parking lot.
I hope he’s nice , I thought.
When he came outside, we chatted for a few seconds:
Friendly, polite small-talk—
“Oh shit, I left my keys in my hotel room.
Here, come back in for just a second,
I don’t want to leave you out here by yourself.”
Oh, how considerate . Nope.
When we got into the yellow room that smelled like body soap,
he bolted the door behind us.
His face changed.
I felt hunted.
My small voice came out like a whisper, “I want to go home—”
His next words echoed in my mind for a year:
“No you don’t.”
I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t scream.
He stepped toward me and after the first punch, I froze.
Trust me, I know:
“What were you thinking? You met him on Tinder.”
Well, fuck you.
It happened anyway.
Because here’s what I knew but didn’t understand:
Soldiers can rape. Christians can rape. Firefighters can rape.
And he did.
It took me seven months to trust someone again;
It took me seven months to share myself with another man.
But I did.

MAN – selection

The first article in the MAN-selection series addresses the harassment single women experience in public. The term public harassment might be used to describe a wide range of intrusive behaviors, thus constituting an intrusive act, which according to Vera-Gray (2016), is “an intentional breaking into or entering without consent.” It is the experience of intimidation, in a way similar to aggressive pressure and physical attacks. Gardner (1995), describes public harassment as existing within a continuum of possible events; beginning with the abrogation of stranger-civility; and ending with a potential transition into violent crime (assault, rape, and/or murder).

Reasons for Random Harassment in Public and Why It Matters

Written by: Aubrey Conrad

READ @ Medium

What is public harassment?
Public harassment describes unwanted public interactions between strangers. The perpetrator of public harassment is normally motivated by a person’s sexual gender or orientation and causes the victim to feel annoyed, scared, or humiliated. What is now popularly referred to as “street harassment,” frequently occurs in restaurants and theaters, on public transportation, in stores and parks, at beaches, and many other public venues. It is delivered in the form of verbal harassment, but may also include gesturing, exposure, and/or groping. Why do women, especially those without a male companion, remain the targets of public harassment in this day and age?

In some cultures, such as those where abortion is used to propagate a disproportionately large population of males, it is more acceptable to discriminate in regards to, not only gender, but also race, religion, political conviction, and social status. Therefore, the women of western cultures are more likely to be harassed by those who remain dedicated to these types of societal constructs.

Perception of masculinity

Children raised with the idea that a woman’s place resides in service to males, often perpetuate certain behaviors in the public arena; and treat women, especially single women, accordingly. This person may believe that ‘real men’ pinch bottoms, for example, and feel that this is a complementary gesture.

Perceptions of inappropriateness
Public harassment is a targeting of women with harmful and disrespectful speech, often following an evaluation of appropriateness, and what may be construed as sexual availability. While much of society has grown more accommodative, there remains a conservative sect who will continue to call certain modes of dress into question. A woman who dresses ‘inappropriately,’ in public, is more likely to attract public harassment.

Perceptions of non-availability
Women who like to go out by themselves are more prone to offensive behavior and sexual advances than women with partners. A woman seen to be living an independent life without a spouse, might be interpreted as a rejection of the “reasonable man,’ a figure belonging to a kind of cosmology thought to be available to women in their approach to all matters of the world (Vera-Gray, 2016) . The idea of the ‘reasonable man’ is a known legal hurdle in cases concerning equality. It is a referential status objectifying women, which on the ‘street,’ could result in victimization, such as stalking, rape, and paedophilia (Kelly 1996).

Why does random harassment in public matter?
Public harassment is a human rights violation and form of gender violence with far-reaching effects for the victim. Women end up feeling less safe in public places and may limit the time they spend there. Women must come forward and speak about public harassment, since it is one way of healing the resulting emotional and psychological harm. Everyone should be free and safe in public places, whether they are by themselves or with companion(s).

Married LGBT Couples and Adoption


Written by: m.wilson

One of the most excellent benefits to society stemming from gay marriage, (besides equal rights), is the prospect of abandoned children finding loving homes. Prior to 2016, single male homosexuals could legally adopt in all states. However, in some places like Georgia, Kentucky, and Michigan, there would have been doubt as to whether that person could adopt their partner’s child, for example. On the other hand, gay family adoption would’ve been nearly impossible in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Michigan. This of course changed because of the Supreme Court decision made on June 26, 2015, Obergefell et al. Petitioners v. Hodges (Director – Ohio Department of Health), when same-sex marriage licenses became recognized in every state. This fundamental status remained until May of 2019 when the US Department of Health and Human Services enacted legislation allowing freedom of religious conscious, which enables faith-based organizations to deny services to LGBT individuals. According to USA Today 2018 (as cited by HHS), the new ‘conscious rule’ currently covers over 8,000 faith-based child-placing agencies nationwide.

Right now, there is an abundance of orphaned children living in the United States seeking loving families; and there is a very real and serious need for adoptive parents. The government no longer tracks domestic adoption, says Channel 6 WRGB in Albany. In any event, according to the Miracle Foundation website, there are roughly 500,000 kids in U.S. foster care alone and 8 million children in orphanages around the world. Agents and employees currently working in child adoption are critical of the system, citing bleak outcomes for the waiting children (CBS6Albany.com). Though exactly how to improve the situation may not be as apparent.

It’s interesting to consider that the first orphanages in the U.S. were created to protect white children who had lost their parents to conflict “between Indians and Whites in Natchez Mississippi,” (Minn. State Legislator, 2019). Centuries later, President Roosevelt would reform the system, and pave the way for the United States Children’s Bureau (Adoption.com, 2019), making orphans part of the nation’s welfare system.

According to Adoption.org, the process of adoption is often expensive and drawn out, and in 2014, domestic adoptions/foster care adoptions/adoptions from other countries), dropped to 110,373 from 133,737 in 2007. Prices for both adoption via domestic agency and international adoptions often run high and may range from $5,000-$40,000 (Creating a Family, 2019). The most reasonable way to adopt a child, the site says, is via foster care, which normally ranges from -0 to $2,000.

The AmericanAdoptions.com website states that domestic adoption is typically easier to accomplish than international, for gay families. International adoption itself is said to be in decline as many countries have barred or restricted American parents over the last decade. However, foreigner – LGBT adoption is currently permitted in Columbia, Brazil, and the Philippines, the latter of which must be done as an individual and not as a same-sex couple.

Despite trends in paid surrogacy and IVF the costs of which can exceed $100,000 (NBC News, 2018), adoption was the primary option for homosexual families (Robinson as cited in Whatley, Cave, Breneiser, 2016); and as of 2019, same-sex couples are four times as likely than different-sex couples to be raising an adopted child (Lifelong Adoptions, 2019).

The Genetic Benefits of Mating Outside Your (Group)


Written by: m.wilson

When individuals tend to mate within a particular ‘group,’ it increases the likelihood that the recessive genes of the ‘founders’ will (activate) – interact with each other and develop within the couple’s offspring. The founder effect is enhanced when a fraction of that group changes locale, because the potential for these recessive genes meeting up increases. Basically, there is less competition in the area so these recessive genes are being hired for all the work…

“Where’s My Hasenpfeffer!”

Amish people, mostly residents of the Eastern Pennsylvanian region, are said to be in high demand for genetic study because of their intermarriage. Scientists find that the founder effect is very common within the Amish, (descendants of German immigrants), which causes abnormalities such as dwarfism and polydactyly – additional fingers and toes. So instead of the traits diminishing (‘My son John Doe happens to be short’), these genes increase in concentration; grabbing onto each other so they can make things happen.

‘Why doesn’t Harry marry royalty?’ says your auntie M. 

Royal intermarriage has been instrumental over the centuries in matters pertaining to inheritance, diplomacy, legal concerns, etc. (Wikipedia, 2019). Looking back at this history of the monarchy through the lens of science, often provides additional insight into the possible causes of some of their misfortunes and challenges. For example, scientists speculate that Henry Vlll may have suffered from McLeod Syndrome, a genetic disorder “caused by a variety of recessively inherited mutations.” McLeod is both mentally and physically debilitating, which they say, may have caused him to be more punitive towards his wives. However, it is considered a matter of fact that inbreeding caused the downfall of the Spanish Hapsburgs (1516-1700). During the 16-century Phillip ll, (a most regal member of the Spanish Hapsburg dynasty), was generally regarded as a “foreigner” during his marriage to Mary l Queen of England; despite the fact that she was actually his first cousin once removed, (her mother was Spain’s Catherine of Aragon). No children resulted from the marriage of Mary and Phillip ll. He would, however, continue reproducing in later marriages. On the other hand, during the 17th century Charles ll of Spain, the last of the Spanish Hapsburg males, whose inbreeding coefficient was higher than 0.20, was born an imbecile. He had a misshapen head, could not walk properly, was impotent and sterile; and died young at the age of 39. Upon his death, the French Bourbon dynasty would claim power over Spain (Science Daily, 2009).

Charles ll’s inbreeding was the result of “repeated cousin marriage over several generations (Discover, 2009).” It is said that his upbringing only contributed to his mental retardation and hypersensitivity. His genetic disorders had to do with ‘recessive alleles at two unlinked loci: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis…’ Needless to say, for some royal families, it could be a good idea to take a refreshing, genetic break from the group.

Cancer Mortality Rate Increases for Latino Immigrants

A recent public release from the American Association for Cancer Research (Nov 2018), stated that the cancer mortality rate is increasing for Latino immigrants. Cancers, such as prostate, pancreatic, and stomach, were the cause of 21% of the Latino death rate in 2016 (AAAS, 2018). Apparently, each generation encounters higher rates of cancer. The risk of lung, colorectal, and liver cancers, has increased significantly in third-generation Mexican-born immigrants, as compared with first-generation Mexican –born immigrants. The study concludes that there is an “overall increased risk of cancer with each generation born in this country (AAAS, 2018).

The report discusses the American lifestyle as a possible cause, and another, the problem of access to healthcare. However, a study published in PNAS (2015) found that the genetic relatedness in Mexican couples is frequently two to three times higher than randomly sampled couples of other ethnicities (including non-Hispanic whites) in the same location.

This rate of genetic relatedness increases to four times greater in Puerto Rican populations, indicating that ancestry correlations of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are shared at third and fourth cousins (in relatedness). Unfortunately, the propagation of “disease burden” becomes more evident within related environments (PNAS, 2015). More research needs to be done and behaviors certainly exacerbate genetic conditions. However, it seems probable that elevated prevalence of Hermansky-Pudiak syndrome (recessive lung diseases), asthma, and now cancer, have a strong association with genetic relatedness.