We Take Our Demons to the Park

by ALPIE LEIN | 3rd Place, student poetry contest

We take our demons to the park.
We let them play.
We show them off,
Like summer knees,
Romanticize the injuries,
Weave baskets with collected sympathies
To carry doctor’s notes of mental disabilities,
Weave wreaths with pity and peony
Over coffee, and cake, and phony
Compassion, to hang for décor
On our front door
For everyone to see.

I cannot bring my demon to the park.
On the see-saw he’s too heavy,
Breaks the swing set usually,
Eats up all the other demons,
Gulps them up, one by one
Until all of them are gone.
Always hungry for a void I cannot fill.

Then chews up the baskets, and wreaths.
“He’s unpleasant, and he reeks of death,”
They say, and leave, their demons close to their chest,
Groom and feed them over spouses,
Use them to excuse spilled wine on white blouses,
Ugly arguments in their stately houses.

I cannot bring my demon to the park.
I cannot bring him anywhere.
In my house in a corner in the dark
He glares at me and
He and I, we share a drink, but still
He’s hungry for a void I cannot fill.


Alpie Lein, a photographer from Berlin, was born in 1983 in Munich, Germany. Currently taking time off to finish her English degree at TCC, she writes short stories and poetry in her free time. She has self-published two specific treatment-related cookbooks as well as the book Young Widowing For Beginners in 2022.

Trey Burnette is a writer and photographer based in Palm Springs, California. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, The Sun magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and various literary journals. He is a regular contributor to DAP Health magazine.