things i’ll always be

By Carina Stopenski

grimy slob with unwashed hair,
greasy flecks of scalp dance across
my face as i shake out the flakes,
a bit of fuchsia lipstick on my tooth,
thick black smudges 
on my hooded eyelids.

curious bus stop observer,
putting pieces together
on my morning commute
of people i share a brief moment
with every morning but know
absolutely nothing about.

chronic oversharer.

serial masturbator with a vocal streak
who knows that touch from another
person will never be enough.

home cook with a penchant for
overseasoning and overthink,
mulling over a pot of aromatics
and chopping tomatoes,
turmeric staining fingertips
and leaving golden streaks
across the lid of an olive jar,
asking you about your childhood
as the pot begins to bubble over.

hopeless romantic.

unabashed advocate, screaming 
until i’m red in the face for some 
fucking peace and equity in this city, 
on which the papers have falsely 
slapped the phrase “most livable.”

alive, growing:
as they scatter my cremains,
i will enrich the soil below,
hitch roots in thick black silt;
even if i couldn’t feed myself,at least my flesh will feed the future.

About the author:

Carina Stopenski (they/them) is a writer, teacher, and librarian based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Carina received their BFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University, their MSLS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and their MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. Their work is forthcoming or has been featured in iō Literary Journal, Cosmic Double, Fauxmoir, and Button Eye Review, among others. Carina’s writing centers around the queer experience, body studies, and transhumanist perspectives. You can follow their work at

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