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.

DEAR BEAST,


     

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