they told me a good girl

would not hang their family’s

laundry out for the neighbors to gawk at

but i am neither:

every year i am shedding

goodness like a basilisk,

pointing fingers,

assembling branches for witch hunts

leaving hints for others to follow and memorize.

my mother says there is no

judge but god so i say then fine

i will be jury

i will be executioner

i will be swift hand of pagan deity

turning entire lineages to ash.

i will be curses following them for years,

knife in the body of a daughter

sharpened as i was by summers of

tiptoeing ballerina quiet across the floorboards,

of me, lamb-like,

watching an open palm zero

in on my cheek–

is a slap still a threat when

it holds a promise,

said he would give me something

to cry about,

prophecy coming golden and true

so even after all this time

there is still me,

town crier armed to the teeth

with warnings,

my mouth going off a mile a minute with

no survivors left,

like i saw red in the water

and tipped the whole goddamn ocean out,

like a real bitch

like i owed myself something.

Levi Cain was born in California, raised in Connecticut, and currently lives in Massachusetts. Their work can be found in Red Queen Literary Magazine, The Hunger Journal, and other publications.