Of Monsters I Loved

I spent years pulling my heart

out from behind my ribs, certain

that I didn’t need it, that barking

mess, making all that noise—

I threw it to the wolves,

took their offering of teeth,

thinking I could rid myself

of the whole aching


but it kept coming back,

loyal and broken,

a resilient wreck

of wanting.


Here are the bones

of what could’ve been,

polished into blurred lines,

woven into silence

like all good mistakes,

the lesson of darker things,

heartbreak resurrected,

perfect and villainous,

pieced together

from ash and rib—

the best of the worst spellwork.


The past is full of monsters

I loved, and I keep trying

to tell the wrong story,

the one that’s easier

to look at, to live with,

where I don’t swallow all the poison,

where I don’t lose myself in the woods,

where I don’t will my body

into a tree

just to have roots.


I am a treasury

of things gone wrong,

a roadmap of the unpromised,

mouth full of rubble

and ruin,

and I could hand you the words

as bright as stars, unmistakable,

but it’s not the darkness

that earned my silence,

it’s a thousand years

tethered to a rock, talons

tearing out my liver—

at some point,

you just stop screaming.


Sometimes, the ache of it all

feels immortal, but that’s just fear

spinning gold into straw,

and the only thing to do

is name it,

say the words out loud,

tame the wolves,

tell the right story,

go home.


(Editors’ Note: “Of Monsters I Loved is read by Heath Miller on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 39B.)


Ali Trotta

Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in Uncanny, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nightmare, Fireside, Strange Horizons, Mermaids Monthly, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny from Subterranean Press. She has a poem forthcoming in Asimov’s. Her short fiction has appeared in Curtains, a flash fiction anthology. A geek to the core, she’s previously written TV show reviews for Blastoff Comics, as well as a few personal essays. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song. When she isn’t word-wrangling, she’s being a kitchen witch, hugging an animal, or pretending to be a mermaid. Follow her on Twitter as @alwayscoffee or subscribe to her TinyLetter. Four of her poems, including three for Uncanny, were Rhysling Award nominees.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. You can register here.