Sheila Dong


a plastic sword sits in the dirt, next to a blank sandwich board. no one else is around so i wear the board and pretend it’s a suit of armor. i swing at tree trunks with the sword and despair at the hollow sound. in a parking lot, birds have fallen in perfect rows, still alive but only blinking. weapon in hand, i loop letters in the air backwards: is anyone there? please come. the dirt sighs. how far i fell, starved landscape, elephant-colored river forsaken by anything healthy. this world and i deserve each other. i lance open an abandoned hornet’s nest and human hair spills out. the nest looks like a severed head hiding its face behind dark locks. sorry, i say, like i killed the person it belonged to.


the woods are
a hurt thing
in the dark,
moving through
grey-green silk.
you stand a long time
by the creek, then
feed it two pennies,
one for you, one
for the love
inside you that
you can do nothing
with or about.
it must be past
midnight. you follow
home the rain.
throw a lamp
against your wall
but the light

SHEILA DONG lives in Tucson, AZ and holds an MFA from Oregon State University. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rogue Agent, Rust + Moth, Stirring, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Old Pal. Their chapbook Moon Crumbs was published by Bottlecap Press in 2019.

Read more by Sheila Dong:

Poem in Stirring
Poem in Rogue Agent
Four poems in Old Pal