Friday, November 27


These are the flaws that make it mine:
a slanted stitch, a hole, a miscount, a wavering hem
that flows from side to side instead of marching steadily on.

The hands that make these things are as contrary, each
slow shift, each clicking needle a testament to shallow
waters. Each wrist flick, each knuckle crack, a metronome.

Contradiction in every cell. Wide palms and narrow fingers,
spread aslant to pull a thread, to snip or coax just a little farther on.
I cannot weave any longer, but I can cull. Press a finger into the

hollow of this wristbone, press your lips against the pulse that beats
there, grey wings thrashing against a black iron cage, grey wool winding
around ebony needles, grey pinstripes on silk like dark waters.

Slipped stitches, dropped skeins, slow and steady will make no
imperfect thing. Speed alone will kill, rushing headlong into the end.

Knot it tight and move on.

Friday, October 9

wheat and cherries and the world's turning

if you missed me, here is what is happening lately:

"In the tundra, yellow grasses waving goodbye to the warm seasons. Marya Ivanova, grandfather's Masha, Mashenka, trudges over camouflaged hills in winter boots, fur wrapped inside, close tied with leather straps. She is heading to the cool slate forest, stamping down gold seedheads and silver tassels. Masha, Mashenka, Marya Ivanova is walking in autumn to the end of the world."

ded maroz and snegurochka are sneaking in through autumn skies to haunt my dreams and press out of me a harvest of words. it's proserpine and the descent of inanna, godfather death and love like salt, kore and the gears that shift the world. see you on the other side.

Saturday, September 26


Sometimes, you sit on the floor of the shower and breathe steam until you can cry. Sometimes you breathe steam so you can go back to breathing air. Sometimes, you chew your nails to rags and avoid looking at the razor hanging on the wall.

You can sleep for twenty hours a day. You can sleep for twenty minutes. You can feel the panic-rat scuttling around the corners of your mind, digging in with its surprisingly adorable claws until the chest pains begin.

You go for days, weeks, months at a time, in recovery, feeling strong and capable and positive about where you are headed in life; feeling the old power rising in you whenever you say no. Whenever you say yes. Whenever you say what you really want instead of temporizing, hedging because you are worried about what the inquiring person will think.

And it's okay, when you make it through these days, even if you wake up the next unable to breathe or think or see, even if you did it to yourself, trying to re-educate your brain on the subject of abuse. It's going to be okay. Some days, it is not okay. And that is fine, too.

But in every minute and every breath, there is the possibility of fear rising in you. Irrational and rough and blood-warm, or acid, or colder than you've ever felt before. At any given moment, you are vulnerable to surprise, to the wrong word, to a stray thought or idea. You fear being brittle, or too inflexible, too pliable. Too broken.

You are not broken. You are going to be okay. Even on the days you are overwhelmed by all this feeling? We get through. One breath at a time. One step. One word.

Every part of you is a victory. You have breathed steam and air, you have given tears and thought and time. You have eaten, you have hydrated and rested. You have not cut. You maybe cut only a little. You thought very seriously about hurting yourself and decided against it? You win. It is okay to make mistakes, and you will. Because progress is not a straight line, or a race, or a contest.

Every time you think, "It could have been me," you can also remember: You are still here. You are important. You are alive and you matter and you will, eventually, leave all this behind for whatever you want of normality.

Leaving things behind is not bad, or heartless, or cruel. It can be necessary to breathe steam instead of smoke, more oxygen than nitrogen. Leaving things behind can be a necessity. You can still remember with love, but you do not have to carry them with you.

I am not a role model, I am only stubborn. I sit on the floor of the shower and cry, and I have to remember to breathe, and I think, "it could have been me."

But it wasn't. And I do not think I will ever allow it to be.

Saturday, September 19

pour encourager les autres

when the razor skips over thin skin
and blood wells up,
falling on the shower floor like rain,

you never notice.

like whiskey in a parched throat,
the pulse and burn
of ink pooled on your stomach,
black and spangled with light,

scarlet footprints on dark carpet,
a stubbed toe, cracked nail weeping

camouflaged tears.
the stain is still there, hidden,

until one day it disappears,
that secret piece of you,
and you never notice at all.

Thursday, June 25

Level 32 Ranger

This might be the weirdest birthday I've ever had. There are things that have happened over the years that, written down, seem like the fiction I work so hard to create. But this is the year that things are truly strange. There is not much that I can say about it, here. There are too many words unsaid.

I have left abusive relationships, I have clawed my way back to the surface. I have looked into a night sky that seemed endless and unforgiving, searching for a single star.

I have written and I have not written, I have left too many things unfinished. I have lost companions and lovers and friends and a home. I have left a place that never suited me and retreated to take asylum in a place where it rains, even storms, and where fireflies hang in the dim summer nights.

I am feeling my way back into my own skin. The damage is legendary. But I can still tread water.

I do not know where I am going, or how I will manage to move on.  I do not know, anymore, what I want from life, other than to put one word in front of another, one foot in front of the other, and go on. I want to write down the books in my head, not because I feel that the stories should be free of me, but because I want there to be more to life than dead pages cluttering up my brain.

When you come here to see an empty page, celebrate for me. Because when I have written every word down in ink like blood, when I have emptied both barrels at the page, hit my target, and moved on? I will be free.

I want to persist like Octavia. I want to breathe again.

I want to live.

Thursday, May 21


I dream of a soft blanket wrapped around me, the snow falling on your city lighter than breath. I'm writing at a window, my window, wherever that will be, with my legs curled under me and my headphones on. There's hot chocolate on the stove (there's liqueur to mix in it) and the window is cracked just enough to feel the ice in the air, just enough for the smoke from my cigarette to slip out in spiraling clouds to join the blue light of dawn.

I dream of walking to work in the winter, of coffee shops encased in ice and the steam that unfurls from the cup in ghostly flags. It is the silence of a movie's opening credits and who knows, yet, where this story will go? It is the thrill of uncertainty that keeps me balanced, standing tall. Seated, wrapped in dreams and blankets, sweater swallowing me whole and my teacup balanced on my knee. A breath of foreshadowed winter that can touch me, even here.

I do not find it hard to imagine what other people want from me. I behave in a certain way in certain situations. I do not slip, in general. In specific, where you find me, it is different. I am on terra firma only when I know what is expected of me. At any other moment I might slip into the diction and hauteur of someone else's expectations, and disappoint.

I can argue, I can demand. I can sit demurely on the floor, knees canted to the side and skirt tucked around my thighs while I smoke a cigarette in the sunset. I can laugh and flirt and do many things without thinking about them, but I cannot, somehow, intuit what you want. There is some kind of block in play.

Do not give me leave to decide for myself what you want. Do not leave me without an operating manual for our conversations unless you want to see me gasp like a sea-creature hauled upward. Choking, inelegant, on the sudden lack of pressure. I will write these thoughts (maybe), but put on the spot I can no longer speak. Will I ever be able to say what I mean? I cannot ask you, not out loud. I could ask you with my fingers, trailing along your sides. I could ask with my eyes, silently fixed on yours. Tactile, assertive, never yielding, never mute. Except somehow, now, I am.

Perhaps I am caught in the web of your expectations no less than anyone else's. Perhaps I will find a voice in the spaces that exist without thought. It hasn't happened yet.

to be continued.

Tuesday, May 19


no nine-tailed fox, not now. only washi dissolving in ink and tears and rain. your lips are gone and the light that rang in your eyes like the nine thousand names of god has dashed against the rocks and shattered into nine times nine thousand indifferent fireflies.

that name was a silver bullet on a full-moon night, piercing cold, meant to wound until I folded out of your way like the paper crane, I whispered, I warned you, that simple fold that may be my true form. I cannot bar you from harm when I have no more stars to light my way. I used to know where I was going from here.

you are not who you were. I cannot be who I am. I will remember who I was, someday, and I will braid my hair into a coat. a chain. a noose, a sail. I will no longer look into the night sky, hoping for a way home. I have learned the futility of loss, the frailty to mourn, but I never regret. just give me time to stitch this up and regain my balance, to stop bleeding out on someone else's floor.

Friday, May 15

Fin de siècle

I wake in the day, blinking in the sun
dandelion-fuzzy, curls fizzing out of my head,
the blood falling from my face like milk-glass--
ecclesia non sitit sanguinem.

But I blush out of habit and out of reach,
the sucking sound of your lamprey mouth
so many miles away, your voice shimmering through
my dark waters. Your direct gaze.

Reaction in my skin puts out tendrils, a vine
and a catalyst, opals poised to burn, acid
in the acrid night, full moon smiling on the auto-da-fé
of my heart, staked down and set alight

without hesitation. A shiver in the wake of your smile.
A note vibrating in the darkness before the dawn. A knife that
sinks in, remote. I cannot repent. I cannot forget. I cannot relent.

Wednesday, April 15


Where is the worry? Is it in the second-day stubble of my shaved legs? Or is it in the swell of my breath, pooled in my lungs like the tide and pushed out with a sob? The things I never noticed until your absence from my body? I do not know. Today is grey, the kind of grey I love. It is about to rain.

I have slept too long, wrapped in blankets and piled with cats, purring somnolent on my chest and hip. They reach out to each other in their sleep the way I imagine reaching out to you.

I will not dress today. I will write or I will smoke on the porch in a nightgown. I will drink cafe au lait with almond extract, and I will eat dreams.

The cats do not miss me. They have curled down in the warm puddle of blanket I have left and they are sleeping again.

I cannot focus on any one thing, your hair swept to the side and ending in a wave, my beloved ocean in shades of wheat and gold. Your eyes, blue and green, cobalt universes. Your lips and wry smile, the defense against any endearments I might muster in an array of hope, pleading.

I tell you I love you and I cannot see if it sinks in to the hilt. If it touches you at all. At all.

I light candles against the day. I wake at night and breathe the damp darkness I have been dreaming. I hear music, I want to sing, but the words are no longer there. Salt on my tongue washed away with too-sweet coffee and heavy smoke. I cannot see myself without you, and I try.

I live. I breathe. I exist. But your context is missing, your definition and style. I can touch and be touched and I will enjoy it, I will arch against another, and another, and however many others, and whisper in other languages the words they need to hear. The words I need to say. What meaning does it have, when I am not beside you?

Here is a game I have been playing: Who is the secret center of this dance? I reach out and manipulate because it pleases me to do so, in the moment. Because it fills my emptiness. Because I cannot touch you, because I cannot see my love sink into you, to the hilt. I wish I could be ashamed of my cruelty. I have nothing left, not even a conscience. You have all the best parts of me, still.

All that is left to me is sin.

Wednesday, April 8


You are a shrine to dangerous things, he says, while I press
my nails into his neck. And I am. I breathe smoke into the
night sky and wait for the clouds to roll in.

Kali, dancing, pauses between steps, and I run, heart aching
through lightning strikes and coming down hard on every
roll of thunder. Singing bowls chime the dawn of my day.

Tear it apart, he pleads. Crack it open and pull out the shreds
and shards of every evening spent beneath your feet. Tease out 
the splinters and do not worry, do not mind the ragged breaths.

I will do as I please. I will dance, singing, while I belt on bones
and crown myself with lilies and ashes. Howl hymns to me, taste
chicory and burnt sugar on your tongue and bow down.

I am lovely in this light, a dangerous thing you have discovered,
a monster and a lake, a god and a sea in which you may drown.
Dive, drink deep. Be afraid.

For I am a shrine, sacred to those who creep into my arms, to the tears
and exhaustion of love. Hallowed by sound and sharp scent and the burn
of needled flesh. I am a temple and a wave.

I will draw you in and be damned.

Saturday, April 4


the key grinds in the lock, the tumblers turn
and I am mute with need, my shaking hands filled with 
cast-off shards of iron and agate, glass sticking into skin,
blood welling from the edges and you sink deep. somewhere,
I left my resistance out to dry.

I will pull my ribcage apart and let you eat, replace my red-running
muscle with silver wires, that wretched heart with a canary
stained with iodine, leave me packed stiff with gauze 
and settling in for the winter, racked with longing

and marveling at the chill.
it's supposed to be spring and still I run through gasping cold,
ash-brown trunks blushing green, maple buds burning 
against the sky like the embers of every lonely cigarette
that has flared between my lips at night. at dawn. at civil twilight.

you have coiled between my thighs to hold the ashtray and 
even wordless, my hollows and edges limned electric,
there is no difference between the summoning
and the invitation.

Friday, April 3


It is after three. I can hear a drip from somewhere in the house, some faucet reminding me to sleep. I have turned on the music to hide it, but the beat shaking in my bones taps the same rhythm. My skull is a kettle heated to boiling and you are sleeping, responsibly, in your narrow bed so far from mine.

The storm has passed and the rain has slowed. I am waiting on a package. There is nothing at the door no matter how many times I check, not since I discovered the slip to be signed yesterday morning. I want the books inside, but I want the shoes more. Impossible shoes, lacing tight over the arch and nosebleed-heels stretching my calves to screaming. Fuck-me pumps. Fuck-you boots. Somewhere in between, the reality of life in a strange new place.

I have never been good at making friends, only finding lovers. I can only take pictures of my back, painted in Victorian wallpaper patterns. I bend at the waist and stretch imaginary muscles, pull my hair down to cover the emptiness and wear the sorts of dresses that only emphasize my utter lack of humanity. I am not beautiful, no matter what you say, no matter the wisps of thought that escape my mouth on a misty night, no matter the wideness and calm of my eyes. The vulnerable look on my face, they will tell you, is only a trap for the unwary. There can be no true feeling from someone like me.

No. The feelings I have had! They burned me hollow, they were coals scooped from different hearths and set in my skin to char. Piece by piece, how I craved the burn, the ash, the fall. Corded and caught. I have been touched by no one since. Dancing in the forest, dancing in the sea. I dance because of--or is it despite--my lack of an audience, and I will dance for you, if you are unlucky enough to be caught in my gaze. I have so many names, pet names, endearments breathed in my ear at climax, epithets, each a choked whisper bubbling from the throat of a dying man, in all the languages of the world. But I am not a threat, I am nothing, nothing, not even the wind in your face as you run.

Only a woodwife, stained dark and hollow and waiting to fill with someone else's need.

Wednesday, April 1

little brass key

I have a steel wire wrapped around my skull, silver flush with the bone in a spiral shape. There is a keyhole just below my occipital ridge, enameled in green, lined with brass and surrounded with copper filigree. I have grown my hair to hide this vulnerable place, the fontanel of my desires still fluttering and gasping for breath. I have hidden more than this from you.

You are a clockwork creature, and I have wound the brass key in your back for years upon years, springs coiling ever tighter inside your bones, and I hesitate to wind you when you creak and groan beside me, but I cannot stop. If your springs snap, perhaps I will finally be able to take the key and give it into your hands, give you the ability to touch the arbitrary nature of this desire. Perhaps I have always expected you to stick the key into your mouth and coat it in acid, and then use it on me.

Let me break the strands of coiled wire resting in your skin, and I will kneel in front of you, pulling my hair aside. I will bow my head and wait for you press the key into my own lock, to turn it while I bless you for the pain. When you twist the wire of my bones I will open like a flower and sing my pain into you, I will weep and plead and curl into you. I will drown you in the dark waters I have concealed for so many years, and we will rust in the cold and copper-tasting well-water together, whispering pain into each other's bones to replace the metal your acid has leached into my base and basic nature.

Thursday, March 19


I have sand in my teeth
salt on my skin
and I will not dive into fresh waters,

I will not drop these stones

waist-deep in other oceans.
I will still go on

into every night.

Sunday, March 15


I learned to be cruel when I was young,
and my teachers were always older
wiser in the ways of hurt

and we do not hurt each other
before we have learned to hurt ourselves

the pain in your voice draws blood
up to the surface of my skin, welling from every
deep breath, every last thought

of a world without you.

I light candles, each tiny flame a lesser
hurt in a sea of anguish, a tide of hellish loss
engulfing me, dragging me down.

I am heavy with it, swallowing
my own pain like shards of glass
before it can cut you

and I am spent, exhausted
and alone--not alone--
it ticks and chimes like a countdown, brass gears

shifting in an expanse of wretched silence, scarab-back
shining, fleeing the sonar of its own clicks and clacks.
I will beg and I will bargain for you, and never
ever look back. I'm calling you out,

I'd pull you out of hell with the notes of my last dying breath.
Without the light in your eyes I am afraid
my leaves will fall, my little moon will wane.

Wednesday, March 11

a pact

Jotun, jotun, brush my hair, and I will be your Thursi.
Call me night and call me cold and I will warm for you.
Cry out in my arms and I will be your Yagayevna,
witch-daughter and eater of flesh,

praise me and I will sing. Unholy hymns rising in the
air like wisps of fog, surrounding you,
binding your arms, knotted tension and anticipation.
Peel back my skin with tempered wit.

I will take your hand and place it on my throat,
hold a hallowed knife against your spine, press these
words into your mouth by moon-dark and while you
choke on them, I still will sing,

pull you into the tide. I will drink
deep of your lust, your longing, and your adoring
gaze. See me as I am.
Braid my hair into fetters, chain yourself to my broken heart.

Frost-eater, fell and fair, wrap my braids around
your wrists and hold tightly. Call my name
in the night, gasping for breath under my wave,
until we drown together and rise again with the tide.

Brush my hair, long strokes from my crown to my waist
and I will sing for you until you can weep no more.