Self-Portrait as Role I Didn't Try Out For but Got Anyway

Timothy Liu

My least favorite

Shakespeare play


in junior high had to be


A Midsummer Night’s

Dream. Seems no one


really wanted to play


Bottom, get turned

into an ass inside


that play within a play—

Pyramus & Thisbe


was it? I always got


overlooked for any

parts with lots of lines—


wasn’t white enough—


played those parts

where I wasn’t


required to speak—


the Changeling, or

worse, the kids asked 


me if I wanted to

not try out for the Wall


but the “chink” the wall


held. Everyone had

a good laugh, even


the teacher. Later on


that year at the cast

party, a stud who starred


as Lysander came up


to the punch bowl

and asked if I preferred


Nips over Cheez-Its—



There were no words


for microaggressions

back then. I got good


playing the butt of jokes,


not knowing how on earth

I’d get the last laugh


when the curtains fell.


Headshot - Timothy Liu


Timothy Liu's new book of poems, Down Low and Low Down: Bedside Bottom-Feeder Blues, will be available Spring 2023. A reader of occult esoterica, he lives in Woodstock, NY.