Starry Eyed Skull by Kelsey; for more information, visit

The Starfish & The Sadist

by Anna Cates

Someone told him starfish can regenerate a limb.
And so, he sped away to sacrifice one ray—
just to see what might happen—
just to see if that might suffice.
Then, because limbs are so expendable,
he opted to snip off another.
Then, because he felt momentum budding
in his bloody soul,
he cut again, then again, slicing with a knife
then snipping with shears
until the soft, salty starfish was nothing but a blob—
ring canal and rectal cecum—
squishy anus leaking shit.
Then, because a blob isn’t all that much
and can’t lift a tube foot in its own defense,
he crushed it beneath his boot
then returned to the sea,
to tide pools brimming with feather boa kelp,
to search for a fresh starfish.

About Anna Cates

Anna Cates is a graduate of Indiana State University (M.A. English and Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction/English) and National University (M.F.A. Creative Writing).  Her first collections of poetry and fiction, The Meaning of Life and The Frog King, were published by Cyberwit Press, and her second poetry collection, The Darkroom, by Prolific Press.  She lives in Ohio with her two beautiful kitties and teaches education and English online, including graduate courses in creative writing.