The Northville Review
an online literary journal
I Am Not A Psychopath

Arlene Ang

I begin breakfast by tying my shoes.
I don’t go around smiling with plastic vampire teeth.
I own seven color tvs, one for every porn.
I have been to church lately.
I know how to make it look like an accident.
I ask my neighbors about their day to see if they can be helped.
I don’t have a family, but I have food coupons.
I collect toy robots, too.
I am a trophy room filled with other people’s goodbyes.
I don’t remember my dreams.
I lock the doors and windows and fridge before going to sleep.
I used to give piano lessons to children.
I fell into a manhole and left my fingerprints there.
I can kill someone with a Tickle-Me Elmo doll.
I stood by my therapist until his death.
I was arrested twice for shoplifting.
I live in a real town with real people who know my real name.
I can tell you where I was and what I was doing on August 25, 1967.
I wasn’t born yet. I came out later.
I have nothing to do with the recent bodies found near my area.
I don’t know why this chair has only three legs.
I like stories that have dogs in them.
I always walk free.
I have an ingrown toenail that hurts like the rest of the world.

* * * * *


Often we learn to hate or love poetry depending on how it was presented to us in school. Usually, it isn’t so much taught as forced upon us… especially when someone who never got beyond “Mary had a little lamb” suddenly gets a full dose of Shakespeare to memorize or learn like an algebraic formula. You can only imagine the thermal shock. That’s what happened in my English Lit class, anyway. And one thing they never mentioned about poetry is that you, the reader, are free to interpret it. There are no right or wrong answers — in the end, everything pivots around the reader who is there to complete the poem. Poetry, like wine, is a living, breathing liquid. Imagine the words and images as they flow in and conform to the shape of your own experiences. The question isn’t about what the poet meant or the poet’s intention, but what the poem means to you. Right now.

About the author

Arlene Ang finished serving a full-term sentence at Cinnamon Press in 2010 for the heinous crime of Seeing Birds in Church is a Kind of Adieu. She has quarried stone in maximum-security prisons like Ambit, Caketrain, Diagram, Poetry Ireland, Poet Lore, Rattle, Salt Hill as well as carved fancy shivs with her bare teeth for the Best of the Web lobotomy farms 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books). She is presently confined within Spinea, Italy where she shuffles as an inmate between the labor camps of The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. For a detailed record of her criminal activities, please visit