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The rat is occupying a treadmill, crusading

for a piece of cheese he will never catch. If,

by some wonder, he achieves the glory of

teeth latching onto prize, it will be blue

cheese. The rat hates blue cheese. Though,

as long as the rat keeps straining there is

imagination of survival—which is not to be

confused with escape. Held like this the rat

dreams, and briefly, he is happy.



I write this to you from the body

of a raccoon stuck in a Whole Foods

Market of America at 4am. Animal

sounding out words I used to know

when I still said things like this job

is soul crushing. When semi-coherently

making sentences that made sense.

When I had human hands instead

of paws, scratching against the locked

front door. Not thinking in straight lines

I am all running. Hide and no seeking.

Here little raccoon is scared. Forgetting

how to be properly human. Ha. This

sounds like the setup to a bad joke.

Someone tell me the punchline, please,

I do not get it. I want to get it. It feels

as if my brain is being beaten out of

my body with a shopping cart. I am not

a customer, I am the raccoon wearing

rubber gloves. Ordering five pounds

of New York strip steak for someone

with enough money to spend more

than my weekly grocery budget on five

pounds of New York strip steak. And they

have me, poor tired bastard, do it

for them.


Aoife Smith (they/them) is a writer and fiber artist living in Western Massachusetts. They can often be found wearing platform boots, looking at the sky, or cooking. Aoife’s work is featured or upcoming in publications such as Death Rattle, Emulate Magazine, and Lemon Yellow Press.

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