Jimmy the Dinosaur

  • For Leslie, Halloween 2014
  • His arms and legs flail wildly,
  • And from his profile, laughter
  • Billows up like so much smoke.
  • It comes from a deep place: one that,
  • Two years ago, did not exist, but now
  • Has some basic understanding of itself
  • As a tiny boy, two years old, still surprised
  • By the movements and sounds he makes.
  • Tonight, he is a dinosaur—
  • And he is just able to know how funny
  • This is, hooded green suit with eyes
  • On top, disguising him, even to himself.
  • The delight in choosing who — what
  • To be has not eluded him. Tonight
  • As he stomps from door-to-door,
  • Though his body will be made from human parts,
  • It is Jimmy’s dinosaur cloak that exposes his heart.
  • And maybe it is the humor of a man
  • Being something he is so clearly not —
  • The ridiculousness of pretending
  • One could ever be something other than themselves,
  • That the fire-breath could ever be contained.
  • But then that laugh. That possibility.
  • To know the infinity in the choice, in the being.

Voices in Waukesha

  • The possibility — the endless whispers
  • of living against all rules, feral
  • children beholden only to a Shadow —
  • that’s what makes the blade slide in,
  • not too far beneath her ribs. That’s
  • the ghost-hand driving young hands.
  • By twelve,
  • I was old enough to know that life
  • is a series of ever-narrowing choices,
  • that each path you choose locks
  • doors behind you: Slenderman
  • threw those doors wide, opened
  • the gates of Hell to this world,
  • allows evil thoughts to form
  • human shapes. Those shapes
  • climb on top of his tall shoulders,
  • grasp those hollow bones, and ride,
  • further away from their promised
  • destinies and closer to the gaping
  • maw of disaster. The Internet campfire
  • gathers, discusses, hushed:
  • how could this have happened?
  • But sometimes the blade is easy.
  • Sometimes we’re lured by monsters
  • we’d die to become.

Ma De, Held Down by a Ghost 

  • Hidden voices whispered like his lo-fi
  • cassette tapes; maybe the secret was there.
  • Ma de, his grandmother said, but the eye
  • of night felt more real than specters. Not scared,
  • but aware of the force that subtracted
  • his mind from his body late at night, he
  • lay, paralyzed, as dark scenes were acted
  • against his white wall. What did he see
  • the night before he met her, heard the kiss
  • of her thighs? What spirit laughed when he pushed
  • her hard into the springs of her mattress?
  • He remembers the look in her eyes, crushed
  • by what would soon be her past. Though he’d claim
  • they were both held down, he knew he was to blame.

Katie Darby Mullins teaches creative writing at the University of Evansville. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has edited a rock ’n’ roll crossover edition of the poetry journal Measure, and has been published or has work forthcoming in Hawaii Pacific Review, Harpur Palate, Prime Number, Big Lucks, Pithead Chapel, and The Evansville Review. She was also a semifinalist in the Ropewalk Press Fiction Chapbook competition and the Casey Shay Press poetry chapbook competition. She’s lead writer and founder of the music blog Katie Darby Recommends.

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