Laura Madeline Wiseman


You ask me what's the scariest monster I've ever seen, but I don't know. Cartoon monsters aren't scary, not animated ones or those in B films. Blockbusters ones are usually misunderstood male monsters the kids' love in the end. Come on, you say around a malty mouthful. You trot back to the kitchen for another, never bothered that you're drinking alone. What about serial killers or men who rape women? Your eyes soft, glassy, vocal cords loose, mouth easy, ready to grin, You've got to have a scariest? I say, I think we read Grendel in school, one of the original monsters. He had a bad mom, or maybe it was a bad sister. Nibbling my cracked lips, I pinch the bridge of my nose and start to answer truthfully, but you're nodding off as you sip, the bottle loose in your hands. I know I could tell you anything, any bright, delicious, mercurial lie. I could say I've ridden in death's cart where the mountainous sky is big and golden. I could say death is my sister, a woman who rules a darkness of rough men. I could say monsters aren't real, but instead, I tug your hand and lead you from the couch to sleep on my spare. Streetlight falls across your thighs. The nightlight turns your face green. You squeeze my hands and say, I love you, even though we've just met.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence. Her recent books are American Galactic, Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience, the collaborative book Intimates and Fools with artist Sally Deskins, and the flash novel The Bottle Opener. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies. Currently, she teaches English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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