This selection, chosen by guest editor JJ Rowan, is from Breakpoint by Betsy Aoki, released by Tebot Bach in 2022.
[ X_] plays Planescape Torment
I am not a girl. I am always waking up somewhere completely gross. In this case an undead factory complete with me, product #257 (or whatever the tag said, I lost it). The smell of the talking skull isn’t so bad, just the rest of me feels rubbery and old. When they say the tang of copper blood they mean this place, which is a mine of pain, a staircase of creaking bones, an ever-present stone furnace that could end my misery presumably. But it just doesn’t get that easy. The hero eternal has a bad haircut. The hero eternal is sort of a lunkhead, but he’s me, and I try to play him faithful to the part complete with reading all my former skins stretched like drumheads on the wall. Or maybe I’m just the eternal bro doomed to wander the world looking for high fives and bandages, a new girlfriend and more bandages and unable to defeat myself properly, or look myself in the eye.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Aoki is a poet, fiction writer and game producer. Her first poetry collection, Breakpoint was a2019 National Poetry Series Finalist and published as the winner of the Patricia Bibby First Book Award. Her poem “Slouching like a velvet rope” won the 2021 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown. Most recently her work is featured in Cascadia Field Guide, a Pacific Northwest nature anthology matching poets with visual artists. Her prior publications include The Margins (Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Uncanny Magazine’s 50th issue, Calyx, and Hunger Mountain.
JJ Rowan (they/them) is a queer nonbinary writer and dancer. Their poems, not-poems, and interactive performances have appeared in the tiny, Dream Pop Journal, 45th Parallel, and at the SMOL Fair and the Splinter Collective’s Interrupted by Trains, among others. Their most recent chapbook is a simple verb (Bloof Books). They are on the editorial team at just femme & dandy. You can sign up for their newsletter, actual motion, at their website.
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