Literary Orphans

Poems by Sierra Napoleon

Intentions and Accidents

A forest wolf pack makes great haste in the deep night from the youngest one.

The youngest one seeks every nook and cranny for his family.

He does not know why they left him alone at night whilst so vulnerable.


To an outsider, it is very obvious he is going to die.

He was the weakest as well as the sickliest, making him worthless.

He was extra weight: the best snack for predators who were lurking close.


The young wolf wanders, desperate just for some life and maybe some light.

He begins to howl hoping they will soon respond, but they never will.

“My dreadful howling to them has become crying,” he sadly concludes.


He starts to recall an old, passed-down phrase of truth and states it aloud:

“Crying of the wolf signals the lonely reason it has become lost.”

His understanding of the situation is ever slightly clear.


He does not know that he is sick, just that this was quite intentional.

A proper wolf would never resort to crying; that makes them leave you.

He begins to see that he was so weak against all of the others.


“Why am I so weak?” is the thing he wants to know; sickness made him blind.

“Is that the only reason that they would leave me here: my lack of strength?”

That’s ridiculous, so he believes in the thought they tried to kill him.


To an outsider, this might be a bright idea with many backbones.

They gave him fresh food to build him into something; the sickness refused.

It filed him down to dismiss food he needed, regurgitate it.


As he realized his crying brought predators, he sees two bright eyes.

Those eyes see him, too; they panic and set their aim, a true accident.

A silver object pierces through the flesh membrane, drawing deep, red blood.


A guilty shudder seizes the big, gray alphas; perhaps they will mourn.


Experiencing Glossophobia in a Crowded Coffee Shop

The minds of other people are fascinating:

How they can pull strings of cotton candy out of the machine

And form them into something that melts in your mouth,

How they can convince themselves to go in front of dozens of strangers

And spill their souls over the floor of this coffee shop

And watch as it stains the rugs and the soles of our shoes,

How some of them can read their souls with a passion that is almost terrifying,

While some hide behind their phones and read with gingerly quiet voices

That still breathe out their message in a wisp of fire.

I do not know how they can convince themselves to do all this

When I have spent so long afraid of the laughter of the people in my class

That forever broke any chances I had of speaking in front of a crowd without a sense of panic:

The panic that makes my heart beat up my lungs so it can have more space to breathe,

Leaving my lungs struggling for air

And my hands grasping for my knees to rid themselves of the sweat.

It was amazing to watch them speak behind that microphone,

Seeming from my perspective so calm and so cool

That they made cucumbers scalding to the touch.

Regardless of the laughter I cannot get out of my head,

I also went up to pour my soul in front of this audience

Whose eyes felt like bullet holes in my skin even if I avoided the contact.

I had calmed myself down to a relatively normal heartbeat before going up there,

Which helped with keeping my voice level

And not sounding like an EKG in a failing surgery.

I read to this audience a poem of betrayal and death

Despite poetry being one of my weaker cards to play

In my deck overflowing with far too much prose.

They applauded for my work before I went back to my seat:

Something that always fills me with confidence and pride

And drowns out the headache-inducing laughter that feeds on my brain.


humans like decorations


We were born ruined:

Sipping cigarette smoke into our lungs and crunching off-brand, stale cereal,

Sleeping in shared beds with thin, holey sheets and feeling the wind whisper through the window,

Playing in streets littered with potholes and yards lined with furniture and burnt trash,

Sitting in the dim, empty living room wearing hand-me-downs screaming for their end;

We were born ruined, but I made my life better.



We wear them over our flesh,

Under our flesh,

Burrow them into our skin.


We pull them throughout our hair,

Over our hair,

Drown our locks in chemicals.


We strew them around our homes,

Plaster our walls–

Throw out that old furniture.


We cover our cars in them,

On the bumper–

Rip out those damn tacky dice.



I think I have a problem.

But is it a problem? Probably not.

I really think I have a problem.

But do I? Likely not.

I know I have a problem.

But how do I fix it?

I must get rid of the root of the problem.

But what is the root?

I am.



  1. Bash face against steering wheel?
  2. Inhale carbon monoxide?
  3. Set fire to gasoline?
  4. Drive off cliff.



I hope there’s an afterlife so I can start over again.

I dream of seeing my pure hair and skin without layers.

I wish to hear that my brothers beat their addictions.

I strive to hear that small sane voice within me cry:

“Look how your decorations are no more.

You’re finally free from that hoarding chore.

Maybe you should stop going to the store,

And resist looking like a needy whore.”



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Sierra Napoleon is a sophomore at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is majoring in English and minoring in Public Relations. She also participates in the concert band on trombone and is the copy editor for the UA New College Review’s magazine. Her hometown is Athens, Alabama.

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–Art by J. F. Chow — Artist Profile

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