By Amal El-Mohtar                                                                                                                             Rhysling Award Nominee “Short Poem”

The tale is wrong. I bear no grudge.
A story in the teeth of time
will shift its outlined shape, be chewed
to more palatable stuff.
Thus death; thus cold demands
for a hot hot heart,
for slivers to simmer in warm plum wine
on winter nights.


They say I told him to bring me her heart,
but I didn’t.

It is a fact well known
that the fashion for wearing hearts on sleeves
has passed. Young girls today,
with their soft looks, their sharp lashes,
wear their hearts as cunning hooks
in their cheeks—that supple flesh
so like to apples, so red, so white,
smelling of fall and summer both,
of sweet between the teeth.

My huntsman hungered.
So did his knife.
Do you eat the red cheeks,
I said to him that day,
and I will eat the core.

I cored her. Oh
her looks might’ve hooked
the hearts of mirrors, of suitors
in dozened dimes, but my huntsman
hooked her looks, carved sweet slices,
blooded the snow of her face, and I
gave her the gift of a fabled room
whose walls were mirrors.
The tale is wrong. Their way
is kinder, I confess.

But mine is fair.

For Caitlyn Paxson and Jessica P. Wick

More from Amal El-Mohtar:

Amal El-MohtarAmal El-Mohtar is an Ottawa-born Lebanese-Canadian, currently pursuing a PhD in the UK. She is a two-time winner of the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem, and has been nominated for the Nebula award. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of twenty-eight different kinds of honey; her poems have also appeared in multiple venues online and in print, including Stone Telling, Mythic Delirium, and Apex Magazine. She also edits Goblin Fruit, an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry. You can find her online at



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