Rival Poet | Cathy Huang

Should our world be sundered by Hell below and Heaven above,
I’d wager that the two of us would be side-by-side amongst the chaos,
writing down all that we see on our little parchments,
dipping our pens in the same inkwell.

You would write about the angels, I know you would.
Fairies and summer roses are always sparkling in your eyes.
But I’m afraid my thoughts drift to darker things.

Should I gather together the pretty words of all the poets,
from every university and every stage,
I think I’d have just enough to weigh equally
the work you do in a single night.

Should we ever speak without reservation,
I think we’d both find that golden timeless rhyme,
the end to conquest, an ambrosia of words
in the stirred air between us.
But we clip our conversations
and the phrases unspoken rot away and disappear.
Yet even amputated, I still come away from you
with all these final acts, soliloquies,
quartos, and sonnets,
tumbling out of my imagination.

Should we ever speak of the night on the empty stage,
after the actors and audience had cleared—
I don’t think we could.
You may need to invent the words for the sight of us,
laying on our backs and talking to the world,
allowing the other to eavesdrop.
I could not fathom your shoulder so close to mine, our long hair mingling together.
So you talked of strange philosophies
And I wondered on war and time
As we lay in the footprints of tragedy and comedy both.

Should I ever tell you that I hear your voice
when I read beautiful poetry
or try to write it
I would hope you say the same.

Should we ever return to that night, I would never sit up and remark on the passing time.
I would never send you away.

Should I have only a hundred words to carry with me,
through every play and conversation and lover’s lament,
to last me my whole life through:
I’d give each and every word
to you.


Writer’s Commentary

My main takeaway from studying the Elizabethian playwrights in college is that their lives are quite fun to fictionalize, glamorize, and romanticize. For all the weight that history carries, it’s just nice to do something arguably silly with it. William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe probably were not in love. They might have never even met. But I had fun writing it, and that’s it. It was fun! That’s it! Take it to the bank, boys!


Cathy Huang is a young writer based in Southern California. She loves insects and earl gray tea and exclamation marks!

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