Literary Orphans

Three Poems
by Lauren Patterson


dig deep

what pretty teeth pretty claws

to dismantle you and eat you up

what big eyes

to watch and calculate and trap

what long-fingered hands calloused palms

to find your seams

tear you apart, rend your skin

get at your lungs throat heart

paint you in your own colors

blueblack redblack

mark you as mine and not-yours

let you stretch, crack joints

roll your neck in the bracket of my hands

let you feel some semblance

of control of youth

before fear panic acceptance

sets hooks into your insides

pull push pull

let you spill out and become whole

become better


teeth claws eyes hands

the dark beneath the bed

the creak upstairs

the bang down

what the closet door hides

you want me to cry

want to call me sugar sweetheart


when you are spread out, begging

sobbing arching for some-any

thing, when you get not what you want

but what you need deserve

you will be crying, and i will say

“darling oh darling

. . . . . . . . all the better”

O Typekey Divider


spend time with another, close close

drawing from them

bleeding humanity how to act

behave, learned emotions

let your skin sink into mine

beautiful because I am Other

you can’t pinpoint it

it’s subtle

I’ve studied how to blink

wink breathe be scared or happy or

how to slide my hands through your hair

over your skin, how to playact at

girl normal average

how to smile with less teeth

scratch with less claws

nip instead of devour

you still sense it

the danger, the coiled hunger

moving beneath my skin

but I bat my eyes or smile (bare

my teeth) or lean in, and you


danger draws everyone in, and I keep you

I’ll bury you like a dog with a bone

I’ll slough this skin like a rattlesnake, and I’ll

come back to dig you up again and again

O Typekey Divider


late the year lies, bundled

swaddled in age ;



an old dog, off alone to

end, to meet the year

and another not

the sun sets earlier

until there is no light no

day just night

and the crisp white moon



a starched sheet drying on

the clothesline

swept to the sky

it watches lies in

wait for the page turn

an omnipresent ring around, holding

its glory

the ever-night cold and colder

still, spider patterns on windows

trees breaking under silver weight

her hands ice where yours meet

where you grasp and

shatter, lose touch

flint eyes freezing burn



frostbite, frigid water that closes over

you, swallowing your mind


the year lies, waiting waiting for

your mistake, last hurrah, last

oath, your accidental

sacrifice so, cold, she thrives for

another year, another life

watches your breath with the months

steam dying in the dark air

brings you to the shore

let’s you float, let’s you

go under

O Typekey Divider

Lauren Patterson is an unpublished first year graduate student earning her MFA in Screenwriting from DePaul University. She intends to be in LA within another year, and sometime after that having scripts or series optioned. Her focus, predominately, is in science fiction and/or horror, and she has a healthy appreciation for “bad” films (think: robots, explosions, monsters, car chases, et cetera). She has an impressive knowledge of film history and theory, a slightly less impressive knowledge of the horror genre in both film and literature. Free verse poetry is an outlet, a way to get the mess of her head organized so she can get back to business. Lauren prefers tea, overcast days, and the dark under your bed.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Marina Ćorić