• Shareen K. Murayama

FLASH FICTION | Exoskeleton



Terms of endearment still fit me, no matter how relationship-worn. Size four. Size fire horse. Orion’s belt cinched part-time alarmist and cynical. The old me and new me with each growth spiraled; treed a new ring on finger. I’ve heeded to calls, both baritone and alto, as either percolates me equatorial.


It’s not that I mind reusing words. I love sitting my ideas in your lap, your arms around my uncommon thoughts, lifting and supporting my spaces. You are both rafters and birds. I gaze at your towering western, how you bookend the spaces of my living room, all my conundrums. In all this vastness, I worry most for utilitarian words: wild.impassable.pathless.


Do you wonder why some words hum violent and moist? exclusive.ditch.alcoholic.undersea. out of reach. While some words are bubble wrapped, laced: pallbearer.widow.molting.


And more uncomfortable spaces. Everyone treks time forward

and Himalayan, craggy. Better now?




words.terms.endeared ones encased.opposing ends of an em-dash. And the old you traverses the new you and sail the seven hundred stages of grief, plus one hour next and next. Every minute, every year, you icebreak.jagged.dusk and piñata. On knees, you gather pebbled moments with friends not uncomfortable in uncomfortable spaces. Then, not so suddenly, vocabulary cracks along your back between carapace and abdomen. You slowly back out in your new soft shell.still.love.vertiginous.sugar-spun.

Shareen K. Murayama is a Japanese American, Okinawan American poet and educator. She’s a 2021 Best Microfiction winner as well as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal. She spends her days as a surfing poet, and her evenings with her dog named Squid. Her art is published or forthcoming in The Margins, MORIA, Juked, Bamboo Ridge, Pilgrimage, and elsewhere. You can find her on Instagram (@ambusypoeming) and Twitter (@ambusypoeming).