Dear Beast,


I had two weeks, a bicycle

and a smart phone. I said

I’d go—but not 


for you. I had to find 

a house and it was so hot

for May. I’ve always wanted


you, Beast—hackles and power

and the chain kept popping off

and the rents so high, I moved


deeper and deeper 

into the city. A castle 

for a bargain. You may turn


prince or be hunted, killed

dead as the roads, potholed

and busied with cars. One lease


had just been signed

another studio, also taken. 

At worst, I thought you’d kill me


before the open house 

even began. The grey bungalow 

was under contract 


to another woman cast

from hometown sprawl

but the next-door unit 


would soon be empty 

so even though it was so close 

to a windy intersection 


and the yard was a concrete slab

and the tall power lines buzzed

in rain, it was my only ticket


out. I stretched my hand to yours.

I signed in blue. I took it.



I know the hunger

of living alone, fragmented 

in candlelight when the electric


bill goes unpaid, feeling 

damned that a lightning strike


is unlikely as a huntsman 

come knocking at this door. 

What witch settled


in a cottage or cave nearby? 

I grew up one hour from every


city, sky stained with light

pollution and freeway hum, wires

and panic bleeding


into every dusk and dawn 

yet when it’s gone, I’m a rose

choking under glass. I’m cobwebs


in a brass chandelier. I got a dog

as if caring for a furred thing


could make me feel love

but it’s all teeth, shit and fiend. 

Patience was never 


my strength. I’m growl 

and chase, hunting


for slugs in the garden. I curse 

the curse and remember 

how a cold heart and sharp 


tongue can sharpen teeth—raise 

the chain link. Lock the gate. 

- Stacey Balkun