I know that statistically, some of us are meant to be stabbed. But first there is only

a slight pressure, a metallic taste where my mouth could be. And some muffled sounds

I have learned are cuss words. Or the shaking they do in frustration.

If that doesn’t work. If that doesn’t render me in their hands, there is a blissful pause.


But I know they are looking for something sharper. When they find it, they will pierce

what protects me, even if it makes them break a sweat. They will get to me.

When they do, sometimes they are wheezing;

their breath belabored. They look at me like


I am supposed to cure them, relieve them

of something.



The dumb one is leaking and then swallowed.

We are difficult in our packaging, these bodies.

These round, silicone drug-filled things.



Her hand was shaking and I fell from it, so giddy I bounced. Rolled

on the uneven hardwood, fifteen feet from her grasp. I listen to her

suffer. I heard the echo of her fuck and then an oh and I knew

she wasn’t coming for me.


In the middle of this night only half of her can breath,

half of her filled with a corporal cement. The kind nature


designed to suffocate things. Her chest congested

with common things. I could have helped, but why

enable a good rest.



I am faulty; what they advertised.

A real plague

is coming.



by Natalie E. Illum


Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist and singer living in Washington DC. She is a 2017 Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Fellow, and a recipient of an 2017 Artists Grant from the DC Arts Commission as well as a nonfiction editor for The Deaf Poets Society Literary Journal. She was a founded board member of mothertongue, a women’s open mic that lasted 15 years. She used to compete on the National Poetry Slam circuit and was the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications, and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA in creative writing from American University, and teaches workshops across the country. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox, on her website, and as one half of All Her Muses, her music project. Natalie also enjoys Joni Mitchell, whiskey and giraffes.



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