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April 21, 2023


Angel Rosen

A woman at the bar asks me about my sign

to try to guess what drink I’m ordering.


I grin Ophiuchus, his hands holding my lips

like a mile-long snake. Before I can answer,

I crush a scorpion under my boot,

and catch a flying arrow in the palm of my hand,

without any visible injury.


Thirteen was always a lucky number for me

in the way that it was unlucky for others.

My thirteen periods a year, my horrible puberty age,

my stack of VHS tapes of the Friday the 13th collection,

my extra donut in the box.  If thirteen meant bad luck,

it also meant I could predict it.


“I’m the thirteenth zodiac, Ophiuchus,” I confess.

Someone rolls their eyes. I don’t believe in that.

Emily Dickinson, my birthday twin, 

exits her grave, sans Sagittarius,

all serious haunt of Massachusetts, 

and arrives at my side, serpent over shoulder.


December set me on fire,

kept me volatile. Unable to walk anywhere

unencumbered, committed to 

appearing at all places 

with a beast in both hands.


Medusa-born wretched girl turned

frightful woman with a viper cocktail,

too damn wise for anyone’s good,

a tail of thirteens dragging behind me,

with one scale shining on the back of my neck.