2 Poems by Stephanie Parent

Punk Noir Magazine



Who granted you a name, when your brother has none?

Certainly you deserve one, after all you’ve lived through—

Watching your brother’s head

Roll off

Because you tapped him on the ear

As though you’d tugged the branches of the trees

Just a little too hard

And apples and pears came tumbling

Down to rot


Why did you have to ask for that apple?

Its skin was shiny as blood

Its flesh as white as your brother’s pale neck

You should have known no good could come of it


You watched your family 

​​​(what was left of it)

Go on as if nothing was wrong

The way so many families do

As if the floor wasn’t littered with body parts

As if the blood hadn’t seeped through the stone


You became the bearer of burdens

A pocketful of bones

They stung like salt

On open wounds


Your brother sang your courage

And dried your tears

But he couldn’t drown out the sound

Of bones singing their darker song

Clittering and clattering

Like memories clutched

In your palm



Love can be a horror

Rank as the scent of animal skin

The slip-scratch of raw leather against 

Tender flesh


The hood hiding your golden hair 

Your blue eyes

You breathe in a creature that 



For you


An animal gave its life

To keep you concealed



From starving eyes


Sacrifice is love

Cloaked, in a different



You must eat the meat

Even without salt, my 



Dear deer


Bitter love

Invading your veins

Like the minerals from that meat

The iron makes you slow and heavy 

With the weight


Of grief

But strong enough, too 

To run


From one castle to another, to a land of 

Gold-green fields and serene blue streams 

A land where the sun shines too bright 

To wear your cloak of skin

Your coat of a thousand 

Creatures’ fur


All the people here, in this castle where you work

In the kitchens, in the cellars—they eye you with 



They know only a benevolent ruler, only the soft 

Sun’s love, caressing their bare flesh


They know only the taste of 

Sweet, salted meat


They don’t know the love that

Freezes and 



The love you choke down your

Gagging throat


Your curse is a gift. Unlike those sun-soaked

Folk, you recognize the treasure hidden in a

Walnut shell, the ring concealed in a cake

Or soup


You know better than to trust, to swallow it 

Whole. But even the wrong sort of love 

Has its lessons, its



A ring can be hollow and 

Unbroken, empty and 



Like a soup without


A cake without


Meat without 



Like an old cloak hung to wait

On a hook

Till the moment you must slip 

Its skin back 

Over yours

Stephanie Parent is a lifelong lover of fairy tales, especially the darkest, most disturbing ones, and an author of poetry and prose. Connect with her on Twitter at @SC_Parent.