Rooster King

My friend’s dad was pretending to purchase an island

He told the seller he needed to try it on for size

He borrowed a boat and brought six middle school boys to camp

A killer whale named Luna kept swimming up to us 

driving away the fish

he must have been lonely.

I resisted pressing my hand against his thick slick skin

as a boat full of sightseers snapped pictures of us on disposable cameras

Only me and one other boy wanted to fish again the next day

The others planned to collect sticks and explore.

We left our friends in their tents 

and set out towards the lighthouse. 

Our chaperone slept alone on the floor below 

as we laid in sleeping bags side by side

whispering, staring into each other

I wanted to kiss him. 

When I got up to go to the bathroom 

I thought I saw a look flash across his face. 

When I returned he was asleep. 

It wasn't until the ride home that I heard the family dog had been run over. 

When I was in college I learned that Luna died too, 

caught in the motor of some other boat.

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I started college at 17 

my grandma sent me $800 a month to pay my bills. 

I got so lonely that I started hanging out in the library all day. 

I mostly ate potatoes. 

One day I stood by the side of the tracks 

and thought of the skytrain barreling over me, 

crushing my bones and spreading my gore along the rails 

like raspberry jam over toast. 

I tiptoed to the edge to see how close I could get. 

an alarm rang out and the train stopped cold,

I jumped back. 

“It was a child”

an apologetic woman's voice informed us, 

“she saw a bird land on the track and pushed the emergency stop button”. 

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience”

A tall man walked up to me,

leaned in close and spat through gritted teeth:

“I hope they fucking beat that kid.”

I stood silently until he walked away, 

until the train finally came 

and I rode on to my destination

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For lunch I ate one slice of pizza from a place around the corner: $3.50

For dinner I ate at the Carnegie hall with the homeless: $1.50

For dessert, I walked across town

to the only store that sold cherry coke zero

and treated myself to a can:


When I first met him, 

I hid myself in a stairwell and stared 

until he spotted me. 

He was a new transplant from a town of less than 100

somewhere in Quebec, I think.

He had gotten a job as a horse handler 

for a circus act that was in town.

We decided to move into a shared room at the hostel to save money

A few months later the circus was moving to Calgary,

and he wanted to go with them.

He told me to tag along.

I pretended nothing was happening all the way to the end.

I walked him to the bus stop 

and gave him a final kiss goodbye.

In New York City, they had Cherry Coke Zero in every corner store

and I had enough money to buy it by the case.

I quickly lost my taste for it.

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I insulted someone at a Princeton party

when I didn't know what a Rhodes scholar was.

My job moved me from a “nice cubicle”, 

to a cubicle with a pillar through it, 

to a shared cubicle, 

to a desk in a hallway.

I decided to take the hint

My friend drew three cards from a tarot deck

I took my boyfriend out to dinner and ended things

(just like the cards said I would)

I wanted to stay friends but he stopped returning my texts

My Grandmother finally bothered to mention our family was Métis

I struggled to figure out what that means

alone in a city far away from home

I decided to adopt a dog

When I brought him home his eye was infected

He lunged towards chicken bones in the street on our first walk

When I didn't let him in the bathroom with me,

he shivered in fear and pissed on the floor.

He wedged himself between my thighs to sleep.

The next day I lied to the adoption agency

and told them I was allergic.

I slowly burned through my savings.

I spent my last 2 weeks in the city

on a blow-up mattress on the floor of my apartment

staring at my ceiling in the dark

watching the headlights passing by.

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The first time I donated blood 

I listened to Sylvia Plath on my phone.

As the dark red fluid slipped out of me 

she described how she imagined killing herself under the water

I felt lightheaded

Genetic tests confirmed a condition 

where my body will continue to collect iron 

until the rust wrecks my organs 

and I tragically die at the age of 50.

The treatment is bloodletting

In the last 12 months, have you had sex with a man? ○ Yes ● No

I knew once I'd finally been with a woman 

I’d realize I was never really gay.

I started taking girls on dates

compulsively swiping with the joy of a full time job.

I met a girl who felt sorry enough to help me out

She showed up hours late

wearing beautiful makeup and heels

I put on a movie

We sat awkwardly through the whole thing

Stealing anxious glances at each other

When it was over I lead her to the door and told her I had a lovely time

She asked me if I was sure

I wished her a good night

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We went to see a movie about a pair of gun runners

He told me it had been his childhood dream to be an arms dealer

I told him I would sell guns with him

He let me in on his plan to strong-arm the investors for a seat on the board.

A few weeks later he was fired without warning

We got drunk and hit on women at the bar

He told me it was only a matter of time before they came for me

and to just quit without saying anything as a final fuck you

He came back to my apartment and passed out on my sofa

I put a blanket over him.

In the morning he called his wife

and told her I was quitting

I called in sick

I started walking around aimlessly 

Playing the same song over 

and over 

and over 

and over 

and over

I began to lose track of time

Obsessively sending messages

He asked me to give him space

My mother came to town to get me

I messaged him again and again deep into the night until he threatened me

They emailed to let me know I had been let go from the company

My mom fed me sleeping pills and drove me home

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In less than 10 seconds, a man who steps into flowing corn can sink up to his chest, becoming immobilized, said Robert Aherin, agriculture safety leader in the agricultural engineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Within another 10 seconds, he can be submerged and unable to breathe, essentially drowned in corn.

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By keeping my playlist on shuffle, I reasoned,

he would be able to hack the algorithm

to present me with specific songs

Through my playlists he told me 

The government, my old job, and an underground alt-right army 

were conspiring to kill me and make it look like a suicide

unless I did everything exactly right.

I realized that the jackhammering of construction work across the street

was actually the pounding of indigenous drums

sounding out in protest

I joyfully gave away my prize possessions to loved ones around me.

I wrote poems on my phone

with deeply encrypted meanings

and a defiant stance

for the world to see:

He began to grow furious that I kept contacting him,

and I danced in staccato rhythms to cast a spell 

to keep his soul trapped in my phone.

I came to realize that I was a god,

and the shows on the television were all about me.

I painstakingly organized the books on my shelf

To represent the intuitive knowledge granted to each class in a perfect system:

  1. Gods

  2. Elite

  3. Merchant

  4. Proletariat

  5. Insane

I was trapped in a time loop

where the universe repeated over and over again 

and only I was aware.

He begged me to let the universe end.

As the world collapsed around 

me, I was trapped in 

an eter








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It took me months to start speaking again

not being able to read or think clearly

living in the shame of my cryptic messages

The doctor told me it would take years to regain myself

that some may be lost forever

I started going on walks on a path near my Mom’s house

One well-marked trail, in a small loop

Eventually I convinced myself to go out just a little further

To map the network of strange unpaved footpaths 

filled with piles of debris left behind

reclaimed by moss

I listened to audiobooks

stewing in the heat of the summer

staring at the sky

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