Apathetic Goblin Nightmare Woman

“I guess,” you said. “You could stand to be sleeker,”
stand taller, be smaller, like the bamboo
behind your two-dollar Bodhisattva,
your Buddha from the neighbourhood thrift store.

Wear skirts that soften
the rhetoric of your politics,
your culture-conscious, myth-haunted, faerie hysterics,
your imminent immigrant histrionics,
“I know,” you said.
“That you’re not my manic pixie dream girl
but did you have to be
an apathetic, unsympathetic, totally neurotic
trash-talking, line-crossing goblin nightmare woman?”

Well, yes.

I am the sum
of parts that don’t fit,
Tír na nÓg in a dress that won’t reach
my knees, won’t soften the glare
of the moon on my teeth, won’t
distract from the horns, or the thorns
in my hair.

I am a literal nightmare, motherfucker,
and that’s fine with me.

So, no.
I will not be
better with your mother.
In centuries prior, I’d have eaten
her bones for supper.
Just because I made the mistake
of taking you to my bed,
doesn’t mean you have any right
to say where I make my bed?

I am the tengu,
mountain queen, enraged
by the injustices that I have seen.
I am the bucca, the pooka,
the knockers that followed miners
to America, drumming dirges
for the dying.

I am the act
of suffocating
on society’s improprieties,
the redcap
with a bucket of gore,
snarling, “Fuck this. No more.”

I am the mess
you left in the confessional,
the opposite of what you find rational,
And if you don’t like that, fuck that.
Take your shit and go.
Under the mountains, there is no place
for people like you, and if you choose to stay,

I can’t promise
we won’t choose one day
to make into you a mince pie
with a butter crust,
a glazing of nuts,
a sour-sweetness like the way
you said to me I was okay, but never good enough.

(Editors’ Note: “Apathetic Goblin Nightmare Woman” is read by Stephanie Malia Morris on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 19B.)


Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw writes many things. Mostly these days, they write horror and video games and occasional flirtations with chick-lit. Their work can be found in venues like Clarkesworld, Fireside Fiction, Uncanny, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and more. A Song for Quiet is their latest novella from Tor, a piece of Lovecraftian Southern Gothic that they worry will confuse those who purchased Bearly a Lady, their frothy paranormal romantic comedy.

One Response to “Apathetic Goblin Nightmare Woman”

  1. CTracey

    I come back to this poem every once in a while, I just LOVE it!

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