Size / / /

for Victoria Liao

We play out our fantasies in real life ways—
some sweet taboo silhouetted against red temptation,
a captured snake in a hot meadow, all stretching hydraulic
with the language of lust and peeling skin from fruit:
the tight-fitting black truth of my narrative shunted.

You give me energy, you make me feel lightweight;
when I’m chained collecting fresh lava for my daily brink test—
how long I can go without my face to the sun. As if
from a store display, as if I was plucked out among other
smooth dolls, mindlessly miming beauty, red-lipped, black-eyed,
your bumpy hands pressing pinpointed targets,
siphoning memory like gas through fishnets,
stamped on wet inner thighs, folds of flesh.

Send your location, come through—
this time, direction betrays my home body, the flight.
I traipse nets of red teas and spiny shoes in the dark, the truth
at the bottom of the grave growing songs more delicious
than your maps, eking out my phony domain. In another
life, I would open my throat and black pearls would drop.

We’ve all been there some days.
You don’t really deserve a warm body to squeeze.
To steal blood from stone is dark magic; to warp
hell into a nest, a feat. Love, this mortal plague,
crows in vain at my new escape for the portal.
You’re pouring your heart out. I am lied to
for the last time. The right dance sets me free—
when I push against the dead earth, the earth pushes back.


[Author’s Note: This poem was inspired by, and uses lyrics from, Doja Cat’s “Streets.”]

Terese Mason Pierre is a Toronto-based writer whose work has appeared in Fantasy, The Walrus, FIYAH, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Elgin Award, the bpNichol Chapbook Award, the Pushcart Prize, and others. She is the co-editor in chief of Augur Magazine and the author of chapbooks “Surface Area” and “Manifest.” Visit her website at
Current Issue
25 Sep 2023

People who live in glass houses are surrounded by dirt birds
After a century, the first colony / of bluebirds flew out of my mouth.
Over and over the virulent water / beat my flame down to ash
In this episode of  Critical Friends , the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, Aisha and Dan talk to critic and poet Catherine Rockwood about how reviewing and criticism feed into creative practice. Also, pirates.
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
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