Five Poems From PTSD (Juliet III) – Sarah Xerta


I want to stop thinking about rape
I want to stop having been raped
I want my friends to stop having been raped
I am wanting on the behalf of millions of people
Which might be why I wake up
With an anvil hooked in each of my shoulders
Telling me to lie the fuck down
What the fuck is wrong with you
Thinking you matter enough 
To even think about standing upright
A vertical spine is useless to him
And these are useless things to think about
Which goes well with my useless body
Although I heard that every six months
Your skin cells completely regenerate
Meaning that every inch of me is pure again
If we want to be technical about it
If we want to try to attempt some comfort 
Like how the billions of people on Earth
Make the number of people I’ve fucked  
Such a small percentage 
It might as well be zero
I might as well be a virgin
Or at least socially construct myself as one
Which feels like some liberal hippie bullshit
But I’m out of alcohol and tired of living
So I make up little stories 
About flowers beneath pillows
And sometimes hump pillows
While making myself think about clouds


How to be a whole person
When a person treats you like one
Is a sad mystery 
I keep fingering 
Like a broken lock
When it takes me three days
To text you back it’s because
I am not used to being seen 
Beyond the sum of my parts 
I am used to being spine curve
I am used to being mouthy 
I am used to being rib cage 
Breaking through skin
I am new at this 
Is what I say
The first time we fuck
And you look 
Like you want to cry 
For me
So I let you


I get so angry I want to punch everything in the throat
Punch the mirror in the throat and lick the glassy 
Blood from my knuckles
I want to kick in my father’s teeth 
As a way of self-destruction 
I want to kick in my father’s teeth
As a way of kicking in my father’s teeth
As a way of being born
As a way of living
And liking it 
To make a living
I will sell you the gif 
Of me kicking in my father’s teeth
I used to do karate 
I could make a career out of destroying
The men who live inside me 
Which would take a lifetime of violence
Because these men are very violent
And very deep inside me
Leeches in my organs 
Laughing at my funny violence
What could a female possibly destroy
With her funny female face 
Show me your war face
My father used to say
When I was three years old
I’d wear his Army hat and bare 
My teeth like the rabid animal 
He was already beginning to siphon out of me 


Destruction is a manifestation of power 
I guess I have the power to starve myself
Which is almost funny
Disappearing to get away 
From all the men who want you 
To disappear 
It’d be easier if we could just shoot 
Our rapists in the head
Make them disappear 
Why do I have to disappear
I said no
I don’t want to
What’s so hard to understand about that
You treat me like I’m not even a person
You treat me like the word No 
Means nothing 
Like I mean nothing 
Like I don’t exist
Like every time I open my mouth
All you see is more
Space for you to fill 
Like there’s nothing I can do
That you couldn’t use 
To assert your power over me
Maybe I have too many holes in my body 
I am inherently fuckable
Maybe I’ll go fuck myself
With that shotgun
That could really boost my rape victim career
I could really get on the front pages with that
I could really get some money
To take my daughter to Disney World
And pay off my student loans 
Put flowers and real butter on the table 
I wonder if the benefits of my career 
Include the guarantee that my daughter will never be raped
Do you have a daughter
Every night I read stories to mine
In the bed where I was raped
And taste a man’s blood 
I almost like it 
But who wants to be a murderer
What I would like more
Is if I could somehow make sure
That every person my daughter ever meets
Treats her like a person
And when they say I love you
They mean her
Actually her
Beyond the sum of her parts
They would see the sum of her parts
They would see her parts
As fibers of the universe
That wove themselves together
For no apparent reason 
And asked for nothing in return 


I’m so tired of talking about the sky
Yeah it’s pretty
I mean it’s really fucking amazing
How light from the sun shatters across the Earth 
In different lengths
Depending on the color
How something in my head
Works to take in this light
All the lengths 
Like a mouth
All of me is a mouth
Always taking everything in 
Everything in the world 
Always entering me
Whether I want it to or not
Even when I close my eyes
I have dreams I don’t want to have
So much of my life is involuntary 
So much of my life feels like being raped
Is that insensitive of me
Or oversensitive of me
Is it just me
Looking out of my rape victim glasses
I’m jaded
I’m tarred
So sue me
I don’t do well with policies 
Or casual forced entry


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