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CAS for Database

Dingzhong Ding

Shanghai, China

Shanghai Foreign Language School



The day I came out

as crustacean, I thought

I couldn’t be further

from mortality. To hear

unbodied shrieks from

corners, my first and

last child. Since then,

I had been smeared

across the spotlights

and had appalled my

patrons, now that I am

a vehicle: carnival of

phantom limbs, bones

that want. Of course,

I buried my darling

stillbirths and someone

else’s unborn live ones,

having encountered the

fullness of my family’s

desire. Unbeknownst:

creatures of dirt and

exoskeleton being

the most adept at

manslaughter. That is

to say, I felt something

turn and not brake.

Such is my pride:

what ends in me ends;

a one-man, one-night-

only performance.

Once, another dung-

beetle stationed itself

in the middle of a

footslogged pavilion.

Such is its pride: to be

witnessed, permanent,

representative of a

species and a weather,

even as a paralysis or

specimen. Meaning,

either be glorious or

offer theater. Such is

nature’s grandest lesson.

I marvel at the prospect

of neither. I map myself

out of my hometown

and return as a pretense,

the finest specimen of

what could’ve been,

what is presumed to be.

Back home, they’re glad

my coming-out is linear

and surgical. But I had

the hardest time leaving

my skin. To battle the

instinct of human lesions,

to turn infinite and then,

uninheritable. To the

onslaught of onlookers:

I put on stage wear

and a show.


Ding courageously dissects the mechanisms of transformation, identity, and discovering personhood. A skinny, langy poem with a powerful soul, Pride is a piece that will crawl itself into your heart and an anthem you will crawl back to.


Dingzhong Ding (he/him) is a writer from Shanghai. His work has been recognized by the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. His recent poems are out now or soon with Poetry Online, Vagabond City Lit, and the Incandescent Review, among others.

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