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an open letter to my next-door neighbor by MP Armstrong

dear next-door neighbor,

i think i know what you think of me,

but i still have questions.

like, when you’re throwing parties,

why do you always connect to my bluetooth speaker?

and, am i successfully burying my gender

under these layers of cable-knit wool,

harder than the contours of my hips

and scratchier than my body hair,

or are you a blackbird, sharp beak carving up my curves

in search of a clearer answer?


have you seen the person you assume i’m sleeping with,

and do you believe that we’re like you?


you must, dear next-door neighbor.

one night, i walked past your window,

its blinds pulled back and blinding led bulbs

illuminating you and your boyfriend’s naked bodies,

pulling underwear over flushed limbs.

our moment of eye contact dropped like a coin

into a gutter but the next day you apologized

and winked a footnote: but you get it, right?

i didn’t.


i fit in here like a thorn

on the stem of a tulip.

i thought you would’ve noticed,

or maybe you’re just trying to be kind

by ignoring that i pretend i can control the storms

every time it rains and i walk to the mailbox

with my keys slotted between my fingers

even in daylight.


dear next-door neighbor,

did you know any of this, or have i just

stripped in front of you, too?



MP Armstrong is a disabled queer writer from Ohio, studying English and history at Kent State University. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Perhappened, Prismatica Magazine, and Hominum Journal, among others, and their debut chapbook, who lives like this for such a cheap price?, is forthcoming from Flower Press. Find them online @mpawrites and at mpawrites.wixsite.com/website.

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