Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Charlotte Simmonds’s ‘Kirsten’




Says she has a small dog.

You would like a small dog.

Will Kirsten let you walk her small dog?

Will she let you play with it?

But what if Kirsten’s small dog doesn’t like you.

What if it rejects you.

Rejection is so painful and hard to bear.

It feels like you are dying.

You are dying.


If you were in ‘the wild’, ostracism would mean certain death.

If you were in ‘the wild’, it would be hard for you to feed and shelter yourself adequately.

If you were in ‘the wild’, and then you got an injury, you would be really screwed.

If you were in ‘the wild’, no one would be able to help you.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you would be dead by now.

If you were in ‘the wild’, wild dogs who were in the wild would feed on you.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you could productively give back to the wild.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you could help everyone.


You could help everyone except the runt of the litter.

The runt of the litter is too small to feed on you.

His elder siblings shove him rudely out of the way.

His mother no longer loves him because she does not buy into that sunk cost fallacy.

The runt of the litter is excluded, cast out, ostracised, just like you.

He never meets another runt of the litter.

They never hump, conceive, give birth to even runtier runts.

All the small dogs of the world die out.

In the wild, all the small dogs are dead because your body was too small, there was not enough to go round, they could not feed on your body.

You’d think Kirsten’s small dog would like you, because it, too, in the wild, would know the pain of rejection, like you.

But it doesn’t. It blames you.

Kirsten’s small dog thinks this is all your fault.


©Charlotte Simmonds





Charlotte Simmonds is a (currently) “autistic” Wellington writer, translator, sometime researcher and intermittent theatre practitioner. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared on stage at BATS Theatre in Wellington, in New Zealand podcasts, on New Zealand poetry blogs The Red Room and Poetry Shelf, in New Zealand literary journals Landfall, Hue & Cry, Sport, Turbine and JAAM, in Usonian literary journals The Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride and Broad Street, and in the UK journal Flash. She is the author of one published collection of poetry and lyric prose, The World’s Fastest Flower, a finalist in the Montana Book Awards in 2009, and was more recently shortlisted for an Australian short story prize.







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