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Published: Sat Apr 15 2023
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 97 Politics Race Gender
American Discourse

All my life I’ve known that inside me is a tiger. All my life I’ve sown what’s inside of me on fire. Outside my crate is a town terrified by my hide. Beyond the stage are clowns who sight me as a prize. I want to declare my desires. It is not these bars I want burning nightly. I do not wish to lose my stripes like the lion, or align my body with the trees. I wish to be more than free. What I want to burn is the curtain. To blaze the gauze through which people see. What I wish to have remain is the imperfect circus. Who stroke my fur knowing the cage is me.           

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Nicole W. Lee, born in Sydney, Australia, to Chinese Malaysian parents, has published her poetry in Crazyhorse, AGNI, Meanjin, and wildness. An MFA candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College, she is associate poetry editor of Four Way Review. (updated 4/2023)

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