Petite Rouge


Not to forget or remember
but to undo.  Put me to sleep
like all your fairytale girls.
And while I’m there bumbling
around in my sad nightgown,
unwind your voice from my ear,
your arms from my waist,
that last morsel of cake—poisoned
with shame.  It was a long walk
with you lurking behind me in
the forest.  There will be brambles
and briars and all sorts of shards.
As I sleep and as you pluck each piece
from my brain, count them all,
and count them back.  Curse
as loudly as you want, I won’t
hear you.  And with each stab
and drip of remorse,
take my hand and take
yourself away.


Now I am famous and
dead.  Called Red and
collapsed in the belly
of all beautiful tales.
Immortal and sliced
like slivers of the best
foie gras. I ask you now,
who wouldn’t
want me? Want me.


Once upon a time,
I wore all my capes
for you.  And with
every turn of the needle,
every small stitch,
I smiled, never realizing
I had linked my love
to thorns, to fangs.
So listen:
for every girl
in love with another,
there is always a wolf
and a dangerous path.
Choose wisely.  Or wildly.
Or not at all.

Jen Rouse


Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Inflectionist Review, Midwestern Gothic, the CDC Poetry Project, Sinister Wisdom, Anit-Heroin Chic, Crab Fat Magazine, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at and on Twitter @jrouse.

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