A Dictionary of Halves

Jennifer Lynn Krohn


Demigod: half human, half faith
You’re too smelly for the heavens, and you only love a person if you can devour their belief.

Devil: half angel, half scapegoat
You may have fallen from grace, rebelled against the Lord, but you never suggested that that sweaty middle-aged man start sleeping with his 17-year-old babysitter. You may be evil, but you’re not gauche.

Dragon: half imagination, half lightning storm
Before the invention of lightning rods, it was more bearable to lie in bed and listen to the thunder if you imagined it contained a lizard. After all, any old knight could kill a lizard, but no one knows how to stop a storm.

Giant: half man, half building
Sometimes glass reflects a man, sometimes it’s clear and he can see the neighboring building. Sometimes a man mistakes a window for a mirror.

Ghost: half memory, half optical illusion
When people go blind, the part of the mind that processed images and colors and light keeps working. When widowed, the part of the heart that loved him keeps beating.

Ghoul: half-starved to the point that any meat will do
They’re already dead, and the snow in the pass keeps piling up.

Harpies: half bird, half mother-in-law
These relatives remind one of his own mother, except they would never give him her breast or take his side in a fight.

Ogre: half cannibal, half landlord
To be fair, not all cannibals are landlords.

Mermaid: half fish, half wet dream
Long enough at sea, any man will dream of breasts and oranges.

Minotaur: half bull, half king’s sexual jealousy
Whenever someone tells a story of a woman lusting after livestock, understand it’s slander by some man who’s been measuring himself but is always a few inches short.

Phoenix: half flickering candle flame, half sunset on a dusty day
When you light the candle again, are you sure it’s the same flame? When the morning comes, can you be sure it’s the same sun?

Pixies: half dragonfly, half Victorian children’s story
There is something grotesque about that long and bulbous insect body connected to such beautiful, delicate wings.

Vampire: half corpse, half contagious disease
Small town in 19th-century New England dealt with consumption outbreaks by digging up grave after grave until they found an uncorrupt corpse to desecrate.

Witch: half woman, half men’s insecurities
Even as they hung the women, both those who confessed and those who didn’t, the men couldn’t escape the feeling that they were still the butt of some joke.


Jennifer Lynn Krohn was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she currently lives with her husband. She earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Central New Mexico Community College. She has published work in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Necessary Fiction, Storm Cellar, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine among others.