Topaz Winters


I never pick the same song twice at karaoke I
never take off my rain boots without thanking
them first I don’t tell people I love them
unless I plan on not seeing them again Once
I chose my name & I’ve been running ever since
Once I begged the door to open & the door
made no answer So now I don’t bet more
than what’s in my pocket I take pride in
consistently beating every man in my life
at poker I buy plants I know I won’t keep
alive I refuse to look my pharmacist in the eye
Once I was born with my fists in the air &
I’ve been apologising ever since So now I don’t
ask for favours I can’t repay I don’t visit
my body without spending the next day in
recovery I never forget my lip balm
at home I own a dozen mouse traps just
in case Once I wanted better & everything
went downhill from there Once I believed
in angels & lost a good penny in the crevice
of that belief Once I forgave the war but
not my father & Yes I have wanted something
from the beginning of everything but it was
only when I opened my mouth to ask for it
that I realised it wasn’t touch

Topaz Winters is the Singaporean-American author of So, Stranger (Button Poetry 2022), Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing (2019), & poems for the sound of the sky before thunder (Math Paper Press 2017). She is the founder & editor-in-chief of the independent publishing house & literary journal Half Mystic. Her poetry, essays, & fiction are published in, diode, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Passages North, & Hobart, & have been featured by The Straits Times, American Banker, The Business Times, the National University of Singapore, & the Center for Fiction. Topaz is 23 years old & studies Creative Writing, Italian, & Visual Art at Princeton University. You can find more of her work at