Why do you love me when you told me you couldn’t love a lost monster? Why do you
restrain from erupting when I push your buttons and crash your creations, suspending your
plans? You’re flawful, my dearest, and this is why I open my heart as a loveless; let me present
my evidence, your honor. We dance in impenetrable fortressesses. You skulk and I scare; you
dance, and I dare the world to challenge us one more time. I miss hopscotching with you across a
soggy blacktop playground with pebbles encased in our fists.
Before I begin: Of course, there is no telling how much the world scorned you to date.
So, for brevity’s sake, I deem you the judge of our credibility (accounting for both me and my
unique species). Everything about our moral code is subjective, but I digress. Your honor, let me
open my case with a fact, because I cannot promise everything I relate in this letter will hold
truthful meanings for you. The word ‘shapeshifter,’ as you might have discerned from our title,
connotes our ability to morph, but not into people we have met.. Friends, Nature, humanity; this
is where the magic begins. We look into a long mirror, or any sizable shard of glass where our
reflections match the weariness of our hearts—and freeze. We capture the moment and hold it
close, because they tend to flutter away. Wings are too tempting for our kind.
Do you think you could save me
from the darkness and decline?
Bring me back to what I was,
beaming like sunshine?
Shall you be the white knight
come to save the cursed girl
with lips kissed with strawberries
and a crown of golden curls?
What disappointment will you find,
when no such creature exists?
When you are robbed of the glory
of a true loves kiss.
there was once a body here,
pressed off the land
with pointed sticks.
prickled with shining teeth embers
and words filled with hate.
i have half the heart to hope she melted,
turned herself to rain
to nourish the plants.
maybe she offered her body as rations
to be dragged off and licked clean
by the loving creatures she freed from village traps.
All right, kids. Class dismissed.
Time to join the working class.
What you learned in class
stays in the classroom. No need
to find the volume of cones
or the inverse of cosine when
you should’ve learned how to cosign,
to bow to bosses and cut your losses.
Know that the classroom
is not where class ends.
That class permeates the atmosphere
like the stench of foul cheese.
That class clings to the walls
like stubborn blood stains.
That class is a construct caging clarity
and keeping everyone in a certain class.
at this rate
the hair on my head
is more likely to be shaven
than the hair adorning my legs,
or hiding in the soft underbelly of my shoulders.
what kind of woman am i?
i miss being a child.
i miss having my hair brushed and braided.
i remember i can have my scalp scratched
like a dog,
and the prickles on top of my skull
can still be laboriously licked clean
by a cat who loves me
and doesn't know a thing of showers
or beauty standards.
I’ve been a not-so-serious girl, a pleasure to teach,
avant garde save this sink plug and plastic lavender on chains
around my neck.
I’ve been a comedy performance, a holed-up critique of the teenage girl,
a series of vignettes about the same self-esteemed mistakes flummoxed
in the grim light after staring back at the pale, watery eyes of the male gaze.
I’ve been a starfish splayed on pool tiles, lovely and utterly sun drunk.
I’ve been a clutch of flowers balled in a fist, a recommended song
sitting filing my nails into pixels on a playlist
or a desperate obsession for a thigh gap like a medieval conquest.
I’ve borne the flame of intensity carried like kindling in my weak-willed heart:
easily pleased, easily gullible, easily lit up by our own frail stars.
Why wait until retirement to study those winking glints of inferno?
We carry so much of their gaseous chuckles in our own pockets,
our minds, further afield. Our music, our taste, to touch and know
we are stuffed with the hope that humanity can at least be honest.
I’ve been a graceful endeavour, a stifled laugh, never regretful
of the blaze of it all, this inferno of desire.
Don’t forget the world,
Where you most matter.
Beneath the rough wood--
Windows that only shatter.
The pieces fit so seamlessly,
As if they were never touched.
Infinitely and intimately,
The gold rush has just begun.
There is no map and certainly no treasure,
For the knots have been buried
For years and years,
Under misread measures.
Note: Story was originally published with She’s Got Wonder. They are not longer operational,
but the work can be found archived here: https://shesgotwonder.squarespace.com/journal/i-
For those of you who dream of “Once Upon a Time”, I’ve had it. I’ve lived each picture
perfect moment. Each chance meeting, every eye-opening kiss, and the most glorious of
“Happily Ever After’s”. I could tell you of ball gowns and castles and of the Prince Charming
who comes on horseback to rescue you from all that you have known. I have had it, and I have
lived it. But I have also lost it.
I used to be a Princess. Any girl can be one and any room can become an inescapable
tower if you deem the conditions of your life fit to build one. And I lived in a tall tower, the
foundations built from my life, and its towering visage of my own invention. I hid there for many
years, melancholy, magnificent, and measured. A scared little girl in a graceful frame, watching
and waiting for someone to save me from my life and from myself.
It had felt as though I had been waiting for eternity, the rescue from my self-imposed
exile untimely delayed. I grew more frustrated as the days went by, but I had friends in the form
of birds who kept me company and sang me songs. I passed my days reading the old stories my
mother had once shared with me beside my bed as I fell asleep. Whether it be day or night, I
dreamed of a faraway land without trouble or care, and a man to rescue and love me, and make
my life better with a single kiss. I wished for it every day.
Then, my Prince Charming came.
After Mary Karr, with lines borrowed from “métaphysique du mal”
In the pantry, the lychee nuts eyeball you,
and here is what you think they see:
a menstruating nun sneaking peach jam at dusk, unaware that
she is the very confession spurned by the gloved tips of the
apse-waltzers, the ones absolved of affairs with belladonnas,
shriveled there, legs widespread.
an odalisque of the Rococo, confidante of the cupids drowned
in fountains and their insatiable, cat-eyed mothers who
fled into the folds of flamenco skirts as their espresso cooled,
furred with frost, everything glazed in place.
When I was packing my lunch last night, I was almost impressed by how good it was. I
don't get that feeling very often of "this is exactly what you need" but last night, I got jealous of
the future me who was going to enjoy this meal. So now, as I'm headed to the break room, I'm
ready to devour my food.
Lunch is my favorite time of day, as I can imagine it is for most people. It's the time to sit
and relax. When I get hungry, I normally get grumpy so I depend on lunch to make those feelings
go away. I also love my particular lunchtime because normally no one is in the break room. I
take my lunch earlier than most people to avoid the traffic and it really gives me a sense of
I put my Tupperware into the microwave so I could set up my temporary dining table.
This is my tradition and to make the tradition even better, a recap of Real Housewives of
Potomac came out today so I had entertainment to accompany me. I leaned against the counter as
my food sat in the microwave getting ready for me.
Then my sense of peace was gone. As I was pulling up my podcast to be ready when I
was going to press play, James walked through the door. James is my older coworker who used
to be a cool alternative young guy and now is an alternative old guy who doesn't stop talking
about the good old days. I liked James from afar. He was nice enough and told dad jokes that
pained me but I managed to chuckle. It wasn't until he knew that I had seen Back to the Future or
could hold a conversation about Pink Floyd, that James started to really interact with me more. I
think I gave him some idea that I am an elevated, high-brow member of Gen Z. Not a regular,
sticky-fingered, TikTok-watching, One Direction-loving member of Gen Z (which I am).
Because of these revelations, he talks to me all the time.