Cool Story, Bro: Favorite Stuff I Read In September and October

Carmen Lucia Alvarado, “Astronaut Poets” (Samovar, September 2)

I’m often hesitant about “all X are like Y” statements, which is how this poem begins, but I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little and I feel seen.


Sarah Gailey, “Away With the Wolves” (Disabled People Destroy Fantasy!)

This is a werewolf tale that quickly and quietly goes elsewhere than expected. Suss is a chronically ill girl who can change into a wolf when she wishes to; wolf form is the only time she isn’t in pain. Her wolf self isn’t overly violent, but she doesn’t always remember or control what she does, and the people around her are quick to blame her when wolf-related things go wrong. What I love about this, besides the disability representation, is that Suss’s arc isn’t about repressing or embracing a vicious animalistic side. Instead it’s about agency, belonging, and finding ways to give back to her community as her whole self.


S.L. Huang, “As The Last I May Know” (, October 23)

Huang takes what could have been an arid, trolley-problem-style thought experiment – would people in power be less likely to give certain kinds of orders in war, even in self-defense, if they had to viscerally experience those orders’ human cost? – and fills it with heart and feeling. This is the kind of story where there are no easy answers, just all-too-human characters whose lives and needs are all too real, even as they come into conflict in seemingly impossible ways. It’ll stick with you.


Cynthia So, “If Love Is Real, So Are Fairies” (Uncanny, Issue Twenty-Nine)

A poem full of sweetness and longing and hope. The feeling of having an imaginary fairy to link you to someone, as the poem describes, is relatable to me.


Ali Trotta, “Three of Swords, King of Cups” (Fireside, July)

A poem about love, rebirth, and honoring oneself even in pain. I really love the metaphor in this one.