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Poetry Online

Punchline

By Isle McElroy

  • August 10, 2022
Ben Reeves, Girl Smoker, 2007, oil on canvas.

The name of the woman who raped me is — Wait. There’s a joke I’ve been trying to tell. What’s the funniest thing about a man getting raped? But you’re not a man, people say before hearing the punchline. You were never a man, the nicer ones say. I prefer the people who laugh. You come out as trans and then you get raped, says a friend, over drinks. Name someone who wasn’t. I’m ready to try this again. The name of the woman who raped me is Her? The name of the woman who raped me is She was always so nice to me. The name of the woman who raped me is Does therapy seem to be helping? As I walk to a bar with the woman who raped me, wearing her dress and her makeup, she tells me she told her friends she does stuff to me all the time without asking. Her name is Did you two have an arrangement? My name is I wouldn’t be telling you this if we did. The name of the woman who raped me is You can’t keep casting yourself as the victim. Her name is I’ve seen so many men blame good women for all of their problems. Remember the joke? Everything was the punchline. Maybe it’s funnier if it’s more honest. I was never a man, and she knew I was not, and maybe her knowing that I was not made her the woman who raped me. Is that any funnier? The name of the woman who raped me is lol. Her name is I’m tired of paying two hundred dollars a week to repeat the name of the woman who raped me. In the future, I will sit on the lip of a river with friends aching under the sun, our mouths massive with beer and hunks of baguette. But for now I have a new joke. The woman who raped me bought me a bike. Do you get it? My rapist bought me a bike. I still ride it today.

 

Isle McElroy is the author of the debut novel The Atmospherians. Their second novel, People Collide, is forthcoming next year.