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Ariel, belle of the sea, drunk on a bar stool next to me. She grieves,
says she feels suckered, did not sprout the legs

she was promised. Her siren-red thatch clings head to shoulders
as she sobs, I am neither a woman, nor a fish. The gin, murky, her third,

gestures in her lily-knuckled grip. I think, What a dreamer. Who could help
but adore such a creature? I once read that the Danish novelist who imagined her

was celibate. When he died, his recovered journal said, MY BLOOD WANTS
LOVE. I pity big-eyed Ariel, now draped over the marble belly

of the bar; she is the candied contortion of his original lust. She looks up,
her tear-drops look too severe. They cut tracks, and when one starts

from her mouth I know it is blood. Stunned, I follow their ooze to a pool on the blue
rubber floor, 'round a pile of her salty insides. How had I not noticed her

missing lower half? All this time, a torso propped on the stool, snug
in its seashell brassiere. With each weeping heave, she has pumped from the place

where her waist was severed: a sludge of lungs, stomach, and parts
of her heart. The gin, too, must be mixed in. I recall

Hans Christian's full entry: MY BLOOD WANTS LOVE
AS MY HEART DOES. Like little Karen in his later fairytale, whose possessed

red shoes force her to dance forever, Ariel was misled.
She misread. Signed for a human soul, not legs.




KH van Berkum is a New England based poet and teacher whose poems have appeared in publications such as Curio Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Eunoia Review.  She is currently an MFA Candidate in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at Boston University.  She lives in Cambridge, where she can often be spotted dog-walking or spontaneously dancing.   
Current Issue
26 Oct 2020

これは大正時代のお話である。廿世紀も早十五年を過ぎて、新世紀到来の興奮もすっかり冷めた頃合いである。
I couldn’t write any more. It turned out that the trajectory of my world had been determined by the stitches of so many regrets. It turned out that I had had so many chances to enter into a new, potentially better world.
我写不下去了。原来,我所在的世界线,是由这么多遗憾的节点织成的。原来,我有这么多机会,进入一个可能更好的世界。
Heitaro was a rational young fellow who believed in the progress and harmony of mankind. He felt nothing but contempt for ghosts and yokai and didn’t hesitate to declare that anyone scared of such insubstantial phenomena was an unenlightened imbecile. He had a habit of saying things like, “Act like you’re living in the 20th century!”
along the coast we have islands like the pirate Cofresí. Fairytale vanish has since disappeared.
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