All artwork © Jordana Mayim


The new normal.

The words set me seething.
And if I continue to be what I have been,
a prisoner of lies,
I will do with my rage what all the
gaslighted dragons do with their fire:



I will incinerate myself.



Beside my ashes, discovered in the castle’s courtyard,
claw-marked chains will bear proof:
I fought valiantly against vicious foes.



Tear-drenched apologies
and shredded dreams
will precede and follow
my far-too-early exit from this world.





Forgive me,




“No, princess,
I will not rescue you from your tower,
be the wings you need until you repair your own,
be the journey to your crown
and a witness at your coronation
as you dub yourself
Commander of My Own Steps.



“No, subjects,
I will not be your partner in a battle for freedom,
burning up the edicts of a heartless king
and his court of thieves,
ushering justice through the breached fortress walls,
calling upon compassion to author new laws.



“No, children,
I will not teach you about your power
or the power of kinship.
I will not enrobe you in my embrace
or plant kindling inside your spirits
to stoke your fires if they wane.
I will not stitch joy to your songs
or beautiful to your names
so they all become synonyms for one another—
so I can be certain that you will
never forget who you are.



“No, my beloved companion in flight,
I will not be here to greet the future
when your path crosses mine,
when fire meets fire
and thunder heralds the news, loud and clear,
so the most distant lightning bolt
and furthest star will hear:
‘Rejoice, sisters and brothers of light!
More radiance has just been born!’




I will not be light or laughter or union
or participant in the tenderest acts of love,
my day



The new normal.

Those words set the old normal
shrieking with laughter as it
sharpens blades, loads guns,
stretches its filthy hands and merciless weapons
into tomorrow after tomorrow after tomorrow
while it forewarns through smirking lips,
“My replacement will make you miss me.”



The new normal.

The phrase doesn’t set me counting the days
with a song of tra la la in my heart
because soon everything will be as it was,
except, of course,
for one more layer of masks,



and distance pledging
with fingers crossed behind its back:
“I will save lives.”



the new normal bids me sit at its feet
as it sheds its disguise and reads an old proclamation with a fresh layer of ink:
Different will suffer consequences.
The outcasts will remain cast out!



The new normal shushes me back
to the silence I came from;
back to the days when I believed my voice
was something I needed permission to use;
back to the certainty that my words were
unworthy of being heard;
back to songs that writhed unsung
and gifts that died ungiven.



The new normal makes me fear that
things will continue to be misnamed:
the illogical, senseless, and unjustifiable
forever stripped of their prefixes and suffixes;



ailing spirits severed from the sanity
that the correct words restore.


And so…


To be continued February 14, 2022…


Jordana Chana Mayim is a writer, illustrator, and backpacker, among many other things. She’s published two books, with two more on the way. In them, she shares all the light that travel and overcoming depression taught her how to see. At the tender age of six, she received her first clinical diagnosis of “abnormal” from a child psychologist. Since then, she’s learned how to reclaim her voice and define herself. Difference isn’t a disease. It’s the origin of existence. The full text of The Fate of the Dragon will be published in February of 2022.