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Evidence:
his slump,
haunted eyes I imagine
cannot un-see torches,
cannot un-hear screams
of “diablo!”
“Akuma!”
“Monster!”

I want him to know
I see it.

That I notice the way
his sternum pinches
and caves,
that, sometimes,
I wonder what weapon
birthed his posture.
A .45?
A switchblade?
Some unfathomable,
archaic battery?

I imagine him healing
beneath a mossy bridge
beside a dead river,
his wings and horns
shed in favor of a ‘normalcy’
he can never truly adopt.

Evidence:
a fumbled smile
with too many teeth,
the way he minces
into pedestrian traffic,
his weight poured forward
as if he was never
truly designed
to stand upright.

I want him to know
I understand.

We are all monsters here.

He does not need
to stand upright
for me.



Lora Gray is a nonbinary speculative fiction writer and poet from Northeast Ohio. They have been published in F&SF, Uncanny, and Asimov’s, among other places, and their poetry has been nominated for the Rhysling Award. You can find Lora online at lora-gray.com.
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20 May 2024

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