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Featured Poem II • May 2016


Swimming with the Shark Boys


Carina Bissett


I was warned to be wary in water, especially when swimming with the sharks. But those were the boys I always liked best, with their slick-backed scalps, sharp smiles, and eyes like bottomless pits.   I recognize them by their restlessness, the subtle gleam as they cut through the crowd, the shimmer of shadow in a clear sky. But others also watch them prowl. Deadly beauty attracts admirers seeking the sharp taste of fear.   I watch mermaids flirt through a mirror’s lens as they pout full lips and flaunt dangerous curves. Scales shimmer in a practiced seduction as they comb hair perfect for binding men. The shark boys just laugh, teeth bared.   The sirens’ orchestrate a counterpoint, chaos conjured from the deep, dark places. They measure out the notes of seduction, drowning the protests of the waves relentlessly breaking upon the rocks —a requiem for the dead.   My selkie sisters and I know better than to venture out of reach of safe shores. We cinch our seal skins tight around our waists, watching for the warning signs, the scent of blood on the waves.   But every time one of the shark boys turns, gliding out of the gloom with graceful ease, I can’t help but wonder how it would feel to shed my skin, press flesh on flesh, smother in a crush of deadly kisses, falling into the abyss.



BissettCarina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies, including the Journal of Mythic Arts, Mythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, and The Horror Zine. For links to stories and poems, stop by carinabissett.com.

She shared this about her poem: “I was one of those awkward, artistic types in high school, and it didn’t get much better in college. It didn’t help that I was attracted to the bad boys, even though I knew nothing good would ever come of such encounters. I was always intrigued by those sharky eyes, flat and bottomless at the same time. Best of all, these boys were so often caught up in being ‘bad’ that they never suspected that I was dangerous too. ‘Swimming with the Shark Boys’ is a cautionary tale. Whether it’s for the selkie girls or for the shark boys is something I’ll leave up to the reader.”



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