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Rat King, Briana Gonzalez

CW: mentions of blood

Slick, seborrheic shoving and screaming, tangled

tantrum of one another—we thrash and squeal,

sludge smeared on ratty palms—knotted together,

over-the-shoulder fear and avoiding your photographed

eyes—wrestling with sebum, with spectral splicing—you

dart away, we grind teeth and claw you back—rats do not have hands like this.

Double star of poisoning: your photo on the bed

side table, gnawing holes in cardboard so we steal

one last wet-nose sniff of your pretend-survival—your

inactive Instagram account—shriveled shells of memorial

flowers and programs—your phantom bite

in our grieving—I’m letting myself bleed.

You scurry into grave—darkness—we, dragged

along, fur-crumple, tear-matted—the embrace

of rotting, forgetting your smell—we’re tethered

together—writhing, wailing, weeping wishes

of restoration, heads bowed, forepaws folded—I practice indents of kneeling, swiping at dead beads in the damp—yelling at your stranger-stocked house— it’s the losing rats, who whine and shriek.


Briana Gonzalez is a Chicana/e queer poet and an MFA candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder. They have pieces published in Coffin Bell Journal, Southchild Lit, Green Ink Poetry, and The Raven Review. She plays tabletop roleplay games and drinks far too many Monsters. Check Briana out at

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