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Dead Skunk Logo: round logo of a white skunk silhouette on a black background with the words “Dead Skunk” in cursive. “Dead” is neon purple and “Skunk” is neon yellow.

Joyce Liu is a young poet from Canada. When she has a soft drink, it's usually a Sprite or 7-Up, and she calls it "pop" because she's Canadian. More of her work can be found in released and upcoming issues of perhappened mag, Gone Lawn, and Vagabond City. Joyce tweets sometimes at @joyceliuwrites.

Close up of dew drops on dandelion-like plants. Pastel pinks in background.



xinhui, joyce, dudu, my love, forgive him. he is an oldest child, but so am i. nobody has ever asked themselves to forgive me. nobody has ever needed to ask me to forgive them. he raised himself from childhood. i pulled him out of his own grave and i could put him back in it but — i don’t know how to want that, anymore. we could sit and shuffle through our guts like a deck; i think the blood would make it easier. he’s always loved his girls easy and i’ve always loved being easy for him. here we are, him counting cards without looking and me watching it all slip through my hands. i want to call him xiao but he doesn’t call me xinhui anymore.

the names pull back into my teeth. the lights at home are flickering through the windows but you’d have to squint to see it, could just as easily tell yourself it’s nothing. all these little mistakes we slide through for each other, a hint of his smile the bribe for our neural security. so we’re unforgivable. so fucking what? he wants to smite me but i want it more. the only end i’ll ever find is at his hands, and he at mine. nobody else would give us the satisfaction. nobody would even want to touch this, this mess of sad indie playlists and messages at midnight. he probably doesn’t love me, don’t think he knows how, but he also won’t deny it when pressed and if you give enough of an outline i can let myself fill in the blanks. kindergartner meet colouring sheet. pot, kettle. he misses the certainty of having a punching bag and i miss the ambiguity of not knowing when i’d be punched. i deserve better and he probably deserves worse but i’ve never known how not to throw the game from the start, how not to apologize for who i’ve chosen to be.

nobody has ever needed to ask me for forgiveness because i’ve always given it away for free. the one time i wanted someone to pay for it, i took the cash and couldn’t keep it in my hands.

Header image Sonja Cvorovic Getty Images

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