Four Poems | Linda Crate

as i am

i didn’t know what to say

when you told me i better not

to be a lesbian,

felt as if you had stumbled into

a secret of mine i wasn’t ready to share;

except i’m not a lesbian but i am also

not straight—


i buried that part of myself for a long time

because i was taught that it was wrong,

and because i saw how they bullied that

one openly gay boy on our bus until he

thought taking his life was the only option;


i told myself and them a lie that day

when i said:

“i am straighter than an arrow”—


everyone seemed to think nothing of it,

and all my life people around me were

openly dismissive of the lgbtq+ community;

do you know the trauma it is to carry a

part of yourself a secret always in case

someone disagrees?


i love you, but i wish you could love me;

as i am not as who you want me to be.


to me she’s always been kind

i know what it’s like to be unappreciated

and to feel as if no one loves you,

perhaps that’s why i have always loved

unappreciated things and my favorite birds

will always be ravens and crows;


they have a beautiful magic few can understand—


just as few seem to understand my worth

and magic,

i always stop and listen to crow song and watch

their movements against the blue or gray or

white skies as they drift into clouds to do their

spells across the sky;


most people love the sun but i know that he

can be cruel so i am wary of him—


the moon is my mother, to me she’s always been kind.



a finer powder

you may have gotten away with murder

the first time you buried me,

but i assure you that i am stronger now

than i was then;

you thought i was damsel in distress just

because i like to wear skirts and dresses—


i am feminine not fragile,

and you’ll find that i am not someone

you can tame;


i am feral and i am fierce

come to tear me from the home

and hearth of my dreams and my aspirations

you’ll see just how vicious i can be—


wanted to break me just because you could,

and now that i’ve risen upon flaming immortal wings;

i am here to remind you that phoenixes may have

tears that heal but their fires also burn their

enemies into a finer powder than dust.



in the guise of all your darkness

you named me the villain in your story,

i am certain of it;


so tell me what

am i?


the blood thirsty vampire? the angry

harpy? the shrieking banshee? the

furious werewolf? the village witch

that no one has ever trusted? the dark fae?


i just want to know which part i should play

because i will be as good an actor as you

trying to convince everyone you know you’re the hero,


and i’ve been in theater before;


so i am sure i can be convincing in whatever role

you need me to be—


i just need you to know that i will be the best villain,

the one that you cannot defeat and cannot outrun;

and i know they’ll hate me for it when they see you are

just a man but maybe you should’ve thought of that

before you made me the enemy, before you painted me

in the guise of all your darkness and doom and guile.


Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash


Linda M. Crate’s poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has nine published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press – June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon – January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017),  splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), the samurai (Yellow Arrowing Publishing, October 2020), Follow the Black Raven (Alien Buddha Publishing, July 2021), and Unleashing the Archers (Guerilla Genesis Press, August 2021) and three micro-chapbooks Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018), moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020), and & so I believe (Origami Poems Project, April 2021). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018).


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