OF MONSTERS is a series of flash fiction exploring what it means to be monstrous, and each piece, small and silver-wrapped, opens to reveal something different. In Dana Diehl’s “Child Star,” monstrousness is fame, and the feeling that your body is undependable, might any moment split like a seam. In “Jane Eyre,” Zach Doss explores the monstrousness of cutting someone to bits and reconstruction, of a love turned scientific and procedural. Monstrousness is having a fish in your heart, is a series a B movies where we’re just waiting to be attacked, is the pebbling in of a migraine, is being a different sort of person in your attic, is darkness, is senility, is the struggle to swallow. A topcoat of witchcraft. The hint of a tentacle in a pool. Monstrousness is being the person who wasn’t good enough to love. Is the dragon you can’t control. Is knowing how powerless you are.
The series is inspired by Melissa Goodrich’s debut collection Daughters of Monsters, a raw and magical book of spells, an honest yet harrowing look at the wonder and threat of the world.
Pinnochia, you must let the world know you were made
of parts. Like a grammar. To be a debt
loosening, to groan if my nipple is bitten,
out of a system—or is it a myth?
To know a man who, in his youth, knew
why I was made, if not how. To be made
but not born. To accept man as man is,
an ironist, holding me to a bonfire
I feed like poetry. To assume an orderly
life a little, because of a finger that whittles
between my ears. From the most petrified wood.
From a wave spitting its oil from the place
that bid my sanded thighs
part to hatred. To be entered by anonymity
watching me throw up wall and wall
against the hope of water. To be a hole
in the wall. Of nature, pure impulse, the gift
climbing an ordinary gulf, like good gold
oil, like fucked rose oil, like the bubble
in the meat of this world. To accept love
from he who every night grows more certain
bits of my face out of his pencil and a soft
room from his rib. Of as I will be. With
no skin to speak of. Of a most sorry
piece did I come into this world.
Of a dumb peg
to let it in.
Lo Kwa Mei-en is the author of YEARLING (Alice James Books, 2015) and THE BEES MAKE MONEY IN THE LION (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2016). She is a Kundiman fellow from Singapore and Ohio, where she currently lives and works in Cincinnati.