The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Breakpoint by Betsy Aoki

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 & dandyYou can sign up for their newsletter, actual motion, at their website.


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