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I wish I was more of a nightmare

CW: troubled teen industry, gooning/transporters, descriptions of abusive RTC


I wish I was more of a nightmare

more than just the kid who smashed
a ceramic plate, hurled clever words,
and hid from staff by climbing

up a tree. I wish in the farmhouse
I emptied the cupboards
one bowl after ceramic bowl, hurling

not just one pathetic plate but every cup
and spoon and shiny silver fork
against the concrete. I wish I had the guts

to run like no van was following,
no engine could outpace me, hiding
in the woods until the transporters came,

made the gooners restrain me with
zip ties and cold words and callous hands,
kicked and writhed and screamed
jackass, piece of shit, cunt.

I wish I was more of a nightmare
so that years later I could laugh
at my records rather than cry—

so that every word I read wouldn’t
fill my chest with sadness
but aching joy at my resistance—

so that I could take to TikTok and Twitter
and Reddit and The New York Times
and The Independent and testify
to the scars on my body,

but instead all I have is this broken
brain, invisible grief, my complicity
in my suffering, how willing I was

to let them break me down out of fear
fear fear of what they would do
to me if I was more of a nightmare.


On my time in Mountain Valley Treatment Center in Pike, NH, June-August 2013

Ink Mark
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RACHEL LITCHMAN (Rachel DL) is a queer, disabled artist, writer, and member of the Dane County Youth Action Board. Her work centers themes of survivorship, trauma, chronic illness, disability rights and justice. She has been published in Colorado Review, Redivider, and Black Warrior Review, among other places. You can find her on twitter @wordcalculator or on her website

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