Three Poems by Katerina Stoykova

To The Woman Who Owns a Fitness Business Called:

“Helping Women Gain Confidence, Pride and Purpose”

Sister, I understand the pain that propels you 

to devour your own mass 

in volumes of self-help, to frequent the fitness, 

perfecting those biceps and ass, 

to plump the lips and pump the tits 

and fence your face with endless lashes. 

I hear you speak of goals 

and drive and dreams. I’ve learned:

The higher you aim, 

the more minute you feel.

I knew your Dad. He left

your pregnant mother. Over the decades

he felt bad, but not enough

to reach out. 

They say: “Hurt people hurt people.” 

I disagree.  Sister, hurt people rush

to save others, overgive 

without anyone asking,

oscillate with anxiety,

hellbent on niceness. 

Except in private, when 

they eye the knives and trace the veins

and contemplate the strength 

of the overhead fan 

or rehearse unheard of ways 

of cracking open their own heads

to pull out the steel wool 

of self-loathing.


I Want to Run Away and Marry a Job

We’ll be together 24/7.

In sickness and in health.

Obsessed, I won’t think 

of anything else. Thank God. 

I’ll barely remember you,

being so devoted to my marriage,

focused one hundred percent.

I won’t pack anything

but this laptop. Maybe 

my passport, just in case

the job takes me 

to any of those places we bookmarked.

On the rare occasion 

you pop into my mind

I will counteract by constructing

elaborate to do lists, then taping them up

like a fence around my office chair. 

Eventually the walls will be airtight.

My job and I inside, 

till death takes us apart. 


Once I destroyed this poor man

who wanted me for his own.
It’s one thing to write about love, another –

to make good on promises.
Future faking is a delicate art.

Years of life borrowing.
Relationship bankruptcies.
The proficiency of abandoning 
rivaling only the speed of 

vacating yourself. 
What do you hate more: 

being stuck in a loveless marriage 
or finding yourself

alone on a Friday night? 
Careful now. 

Walking out differs from packing 
all those bags in your mind. 


Reaching for rock bottom 
to pick up a forgotten arrowhead. 

No more left 
from Cupid’s attempts.

Katerina Stoykova is the author of several poetry books, most recently Between a Bird Cage and a Bird House (University Press of Kentucky, 2024). Katerina is the founder and Senior Editor of Accents Publishing, where she has selected, edited, and published close to 100 poetry collections. Katerina acted in the lead roles for the independent feature films Proud Citizen and Fort Maria, both directed by Thom Southerland. Her poems have been translated into German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Bangla, and Farsi. The Eight Floor Balcony, a volume of her selected poems, was translated into Arabic by acclaimed poet Khairi Hamdan and published by Dar Al Biruni press.