Twenty-First Century Red Riding Hood

by | Issue #4, Issues

The world is my mother and Mother is a witch,
she says, a psychological horror protagonist
walled in, exit forbidden sans consent.
Lest the teen princess be exiled.

The hearth is ravenous, cavernous,
cold as the word no.
The screen is her ladder,
her savior.

Purveyor of Prose. Playground Pariah.
These epithets? Remnants of rejection.
The prince in print is amber light
caressing her getaway caravan.

Clandestine chat logs leave faint whispers
of Late-night roaming the digital
woods, the howl of a gray wolf;
dressed in Santa’s skin, bearing gifts.

Compliments at sixteen,
to Twenty-first Century Red, are gold.
Thinks she’s really Rapunzel, hence her thirst,
for nectar and knife.

Phone screens ignite paper-thin innocence.
The Wolf sends directions to dark dorms, himself
buzzing, iridescent blue. Leaves maps to the restricted
rooms out in the open.

So she sees the bait, the line, the hook,
the looks, the likes, swipes right.
She stuffs both feet into unbroken boots. Bleeds.
For a mirage of a man, and the world.

Los Angeles-born Filipino-American poet Rachel Alarcio’s work has appeared in and is forthcoming in two award-winning WriteGirl anthologies, Exposition Review, Red Ogre Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, at LAX’s Terminal 7-8, and elsewhere. They are a 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Short Story Medalist. She is currently working towards her B.A. in English from Kalamazoo College. Her favorite foods include Brie cheese, adobo, barbeque, and arroz caldo. She also loves cats, despite being allergic to them. Find them @rachelalarcio on Twitter, @raechillout on Instagram, and at