Two Poems By Rena Su

People hate Dora the Explorer’s Redesign

because in this new world, Dora is 16 and everyone hates being 16.

being 16 means that Dora explores the outskirts of her neighbourhood, listening

to Don’t Stop Believin’ and We Are Young or another one of those coming-of-age 

songs under nameless streetlights. she carries pepper spray and a set of keys 

in Wolverine formation, because she’s learned that ‘Swiper no swiping’ doesn’t do 

the trick anymore. not even if she says it three times in a row. she only explores at night

because she’s busy navigating her high school hallways in the morning. nowadays Dora 

has more friends but she uses the word loosely. she doesn’t know if they are real 

friends or if they just want her help in AP Spanish. Boots stays home thanks to the rulebook.

Dora would never say this but she thinks about Doc Martens boots more than she thinks

about Boots the monkey. and it’s hard to fit in. but she tries. she tries to lose

her catchphrases partly because a girl in the cafeteria thought it was weird and partly

because she’s goddamn done with asking strangers what to do with her life. 

so maybe it’s a good thing that some cartoon characters have stayed the same age

for twenty-something years. because they don’t want to grow up and do taxes

and be in dead-end jobs. (but I don’t think we want to either.)

To people who confuse Room (2015) with The Room (2003)

the only reason i can distinguish between the two 

is because my friend cried

to Room, the twenty-fifteen one. 

it was the first and only

movie to ever make her cry. 

i tell people that if i were to cry

i would also want to cry to Room — 

i want to choreograph

my emotions and cry at the scene 

where Jack realizes 

that the one room and defunct kitchen 

isn’t the entire world

even if it was his. that there were windows 

that looked like his television. 

that he needed that lie 

in order to be protected. 

when watching The Room, i realize 

that Johnny says “i never hit you” twice 

in a scene where he pushes his fiancée 

Lisa until she falls onto the couch twice.

i would’ve cried for her

if the acting was more realistic

but i’m glad that it was not.

because that way i can pretend

that it doesn’t have a chance of happening

to me or my friends

and that it is all just a television

rather than a window.

because we all need a couple of lies,


Rena Su is a writer from Vancouver, Canada, and the author of the chapbook Preparing Dinosaurs for Mass Extinction (ZED Press, Jun 2021). Her work has been recognized by Simon Fraser University, the Poetry Society of UK, and the Pulitzer Center. You can find her on Twitter @RenaSuWrites

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