Womxn’s History Month Special Issue Poetry Winner: Poems by Winniebell Xinyu Zong

In the End You All Get Caught

after my rapist steve and his best friend ron

you peel me      off       

the grassland

   laugh          as you each        taunt my




between your fingers              merciful god         

who won’t        crush a shell

today      but he can          

    front teeth    flash

                            in arousal      for now    

you own me       you discovered me     

            in dirt          saved           a pearl        

from my own           

                                 home           now you press

me down         

         on a foreign land           watch me


            your endless       body        & desert 


on your         chest hair          over beach-

           burned      skin         

    now I repel you      

with swift retreats            

   you can never catch        

                into a shelter          I carry

           everywhere            the privilege in that           

       now you jump

for the chance             to smother          

    this one

            for the story          to tell    the next one

that life     did a disservice          to whom      a hopeless

romantic          salvaged        all he could      

         the sane

remains       of something          itchy         

      now your victim tears          

want justice        for     look   

  look           my flesh  

will forever          soil        the back        

 of your shoe

                            stain       the good name         

  on your resume             

                            & march                    

  on your bedsheets         

for when I wake                

                  it is never too late       

 why is it never too late         

you fear           for the slowly           but surely        


glued         to your windows          a web of trial    

         oh what if                         I       

will be the reason        you are re-     




i raised my claws

against the whiff

of harbor air which

faithfully smelled like

your morning breath

& the froth

of your affection

when you said

you liked my pussy

because it’s not


you called me   honey

for being your

head-off body-split

ama-ebi    shipped fresh

from a foreign land

you coveted for

taste          no

i was the crayfish

that you de-veined

alive   with the shell on

that you threw

into the saltwater tub

hundreds of my sisters

already waiting there

to die and i

coiled my stomach

retreated from

the mountain

of their bodies

digging for

a mud burrow

to reclaim

the remains

of what once

held my inside

& was now

a hollowed



& retching



Photo Credit: “Female Warrior on Magical Animal, shadow puppet from Gaoxiong, Taiwan, Lin Liu-Hsin Museum” by Hiart licensed under Public Domain and obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Winniebell Xinyu Zong is a writer and djembe player. She was born and raised in an industrial city in China. Zong holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Franklin and Marshall College. Her recent poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Penn Review, and Sierra Nevada Review, among others. She is the Assistant Editor of Frontier Poetry and reads for Pleiades: Literature in Context. At the moment, she practices strict social distancing while pursuing an M.A. at Kansas State University. You can follow her on Instagram @winniebell_zong and she is new on Twitter @WinniebellZong.

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