Self-Portrait as a Dreadnought

by Han VanderHart

without armor, without big gun array, without long range fire and brimstone.
rather than battleship that will become memorial to men or fish
I am brief—the light of a candle before an open window
no iron sides, no fueling of the war economy in the making of me
breakable as the stem of clover in the field
soft as the crab inside its shell
I dread everything
I am sore afraid
the angels in paintings: they speak to me


Han VanderHart is a genderqueer Southern writer living in Durham, North Carolina. They have poetry and essays published in The Boston Globe, Kenyon Review, The American Poetry Review, The Rumpus, AGNI and elsewhere. Han hosts Of Poetry podcast, edits Moist Poetry Journal and reviews at EcoTheo Review, co-publishes River River Books with Amorak Huey, and is the author of the poetry collection What Pecan Light (Bull City Press, 2021).

Image: Anne Nygård

Image description: a lit candle in front of a frosted, gray mirror. Additional candle lights are reflected in the mirror.