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This poem is part of our 2016 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.


It's all tricks, sex, and promises,
that's the marrow of it and no help
for it: we have been swindling
and seducing since we had words
for it, stealing each other blind
and then slipping into each other's
sheets at night. We cannot help

ourselves. There is nothing we like
more than getting the better
of someone, other than getting under
or over them. There is magic,
sometimes, cunning, usually, beasts
and men are often indistinguishable
but nobody pays much mind.

Sometimes people die,
sometimes they marry. Usually
there is some victory, pyrrhic
or otherwise, somebody always
gets their just desserts. Sometimes
there are jokes, or else morals.
Blood is satisfying, as are tears,

among other liquids. Try to escape
this story. It is impossible. It draws you in
with false promises and swallows you whole
and squirming until you are nothing more
than a stock character. You assume the name,
the props, the tribulations. This has all

been told before. It fits you like a glove.




Margaret Wack is a writer, poet, and classicist whose work has been published in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Twisted Moon, and others.  More can be found at margaretwack.com.
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