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Once, you handed me half a heart,
a pretty keepsake, as if love
could be contained in glass,
displayed as truth,
a weapon, a warning,
a silver bullet against
every demon
you fashioned in the dark—
but you cornered the wrong monster.

You offered honey
but arrived with too much grief,
a gift of quicksand kisses,
a ruin of howling
keening
between every word,
the ghost of love
conjured as fruit, ripe
as belladonna,
too much and the sleep
is endless—
but a witch always knows.

You think this story is yours,
but it isn’t; you haven’t escaped
the labyrinth, this stone river
knows what you have done,
what you stole, what you broke,
what you burned to ash—
there is no mercy here,
only haunting,
a cadre of shame
brandishing knives—
and you abandoned
the wrong Fate.

Now, you wake
godless, soul-hollow,
your chest vacant
and clockless,
ribs perfectly arranged
around the emptiness,
this cathedral of lies,
this once-holy space,
ringing with a dark hymn
only the damned will ever hear—
look down,
you are standing in your own grave.



Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in UncannyFireside Fiction, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny Magazine (Subterranean Press). She has a poem forthcoming in F&SF magazine. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song. Follow her on Twitter (@alwayscoffee) or visit her blog (alwayscoffee.wordpress.com). Three of her poems were Rhysling Award nominees.
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23 Jan 2023

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