27 Mar 2014

Kristina Ten


How many of us in this bed? You, index finger crooked

in the corner of my mouth like a whalehook. Me, foot

cramping against the cool aluminum of your laptop,

video—keyword search: monster, schoolgirl—on mute.


Next to us, Morphling96, a weak-jawed boy who looks

vaguely Swedish and speaks in furious clicks and clacks

reminiscent of the sounds of a keyboard. Just northeast,

a clan of trolls nervously eyes the space over your head,

where a life bar flickers the color of a pollen dust storm.


Southwest, an ex-lover from last winter sticks wads of

tissue between the toes of a wyvern, says: Do Not Move

Or You’ll Smudge The Polish. Nearby, a thing with horns

and a thing with tusks debate the merits of strength and

agility, look at us with disgust. How few protrusions stick

out of us! And with them how stupid, tender we thrust.


Where are you now? Your lips are being stung by bees.

Your lips are being stung by hornets and yellow jackets

and wasps and bees. Your lips are being kissed by wisps

and shadows, lancers and beasts and all-stars and bees.


A priestess does whippets perched on the windowsill,

losing skin each time her thumb freezes to the cracker.

She leans back against the glass, says: I Haven’t Felt

This Okay Since Fifteen. Marrow of sapphires. Keeper

of the light. She hands a maiden the charger, whispers:

Exclusive Offer, One Night Only, Premium Piece Of Air.


You have always disappeared so easily into other worlds.

This one is too three-dimensional, with its cold southern

comforts, feather down bedding. Want to level up, soothing.

Feeling blue raspberry popsicles dripping onto everything

sticky. Analysis paralysis, anaphylactic reaction. Gun down

a grizzly and build me an insulated yurt with its bear hands.


This is adding insult to injection. Two people on the bus

sharing earbuds. Two people on the bus with a backpack

between them, each holding a strap. Can’t help but half

smile at the baby with hair jet-plane black, like iron filings

sprinkled over a bar magnet. Say you don’t mind about the

hostile environment, glad for the double protection so we

can fill the whole room with ultra-ribbed beige balloons.


What’s the difference? We’re all made of clay and our only

defense against cracking is to slick one another wet. I ask:

Would You Like To Feel Alive? You say: No, Not Yet, Maybe

Just More Animated. Your thousand-yard stare is your tell

you’ve gone elsewhere, where your battle looks like mine

but with more heroes to choose from. Rhinestone tramp

the creep camp and how many hearts have you collected?


I am somewhere else too, inside the ancient tower of you,

both parties crumbling. I am candying the bacon. Mind

the timer, bourbon, weapon. I am every way to flip a coin,

scribbling Radical Participation But Not To The Point

Of Consumption onto board game currency in red pen.


Kristina Ten is a dog person and a people person, in that order. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Pantheon Magazine, Quiet Lightning’s sparkle + blink, and SP CE’s LOVEbook. She lives in San Francisco.

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