Blood and Wings and Blood

I should have had my period by now but my cycles are all fucked up since I hit my forties. You know it will happen eventually, you just don’t ever think it will happen to you. Like, now.¬† There was always something about the eventual onset of menopause that was in the future, and a distant future at that.

You don’t want to talk about this? Too bloody? Too gross but not in the fun way like those shit slasher movies you watch with all the gore and gratuitous violence?

It’s funny to me. The way that people are. Funny-tragic, I mean. The way they have convinced you that women are disposable and you believed it and moved on and you don’t think that’s a kind of cruelty. You think that’s just the way it is. I can’t blame you. I thought so, too. Parts of me still do and it seems I keep discovering new ones as the years go by. It’s layered into us. It’s almost eerily clever in its own grotesque way.

Did you know that if you cut open a cocoon at any point during its existence you will most likely just see a gooey mess? You will not ever see a half-caterpillar-half-butterfly because apparently it doesn’t happen like that. The butterfly sort of happens all at once suddenly out of the sticky glob of nothing recognizable as anything.

And if I remember correctly, the tiny creature thing just kind of finally drops out one day, also suddenly, from the chrysalis, wings completely gummed together by the soggy muck is was soaked within for however many days. Eight to twelve days.

It is a rather raw and violent way to exit one form of life and enter a new one. Later on we watch in delight as the butterfly flutters through a garden and think, How sweet, delicate, beautiful. Some butterflies make it and some don’t. Some can’t get their wings to open and so they fall to their sad little deaths. Some can only manage one wing, which is not enough.

I’m not trying to make this some kind of metaphor for struggle or some lesson about how precious and slim your life is, or mine for that matter. I’m not trying to say anything other than birth, death, life, are all parts of a unified cycle, and each stage contains within it its own kind of ugliness, stickiness, and violence. And that our collective denial of the brutality of these cycles, our denial of the excruciating pain of the destruction that is giving birth, or the crushing pain a woman must endure month after month within her own naturally pain-wracked body, is to deny, too, the magnificent awe the strength of a woman should inspire.

All of this has been said before. This is not a new ask, to be acknowledged, to be respected, to be seen for all that a woman actually is instead of for what she has been told to be: pretty, happy, quiet, obedient, clean. Perhaps each woman has to say these things for herself at some point in her life, though. In order to make it real in her own way. Part of it is to finally acknowledge, respect, and see herself. We spend our whole lives holding back or denying a kind of pain which is hard to explain because it is so intimate, so deeply woven in that we are some how too close to see it.

Some butterflies, of course, do make it. They drop and they fly and in one ecstatic movement they are off on their own adventures. And they come to know the sunshine and the soft peach light of summer sunset falling upon the colorful petals. And the cold hard rain and the thrashing storms and the driving winds, too.


Photo by Cassidy Dickens



The pagans believe springtime is the season during which their god impregnated their goddess, thus producing an earth fertile enough to birth all of the fragrant flowers and trees, as well as the little creatures who feed upon them. Such abundance is sweet to imagine, even if at the moment believing in it feels terribly fragile, perhaps even dangerous.

We want to be held and we want to be set free. We want to be so close to each other we can’t tell who is the beginning and who is the end, yet all the while we can’t extinguish the gnawing need inside that wants to run through the streets and the fields and the galaxy all alone.

Sometimes when he touches me, I recoil like one of those tiny snails curling back into her pearly shell. I don’t know why this happens, I can only tell you it happens the way when a doctor knocks one of those little hammers against a certain spot on your knee, your leg nearly kicks him in the balls reflexively. I don’t want to kick my boyfriend in the balls but I suppose a part of me that I don’t quite have a handle on wants very much not to be touched.

One afternoon not long ago, I was standing at the stove staring out across the back garden, dead as it was and covered in the last of the dirty winter-into-early-springtime snow. The steam from the tea kettle was fogging up the bottom portion of the glass windowpane, blurring my vision and my thoughts into a kind of daydream about nothing in particular. There we were on a beach as the summer sun was setting across the electric pink horizon of my mind. The warmth surrounding us so intimately, as if the heat of every molecule of the last of the day’s sunshine was sliding and vibrating beneath the tan of our skin.

I’m jolted free of this daydream by his hands on my hips from behind, and suddenly I’m back at the stove in the kitchen in my socks and sweatshirt. I jerk away. It’s not that his touch is wrong it’s that it’s an intrusion. The violation feels real even though it shouldn’t because he’s the one I have invited in. He’s the one I thought I wanted inside and around me all the time.

He senses my disturbed reaction and moves away, apologizing as I try to tell him it’s not him it’s me, even though I know it’s actually probably all of them. All of the others who moved in much too close much too soon. The ones who come into your life and damage you sort of chip away at your sense of boundaries, your sense of movement.

I never could quite figure out if I ever knew when what I wanted became less important than what they wanted. Why I should shrink and they should grow bigger and thicker and harder until they were as big and thick and hard as they felt like being and in response I forced my fear to become a thing I thought I could conquer by acting like I wasn’t afraid. Like I wanted it even. Like it was all my idea – my body, my decision. If the world they created couldn’t be escaped, I would tell myself a different kind of story to try to make inhabiting it less upsetting.

Ever since I was small, they told me stories about men who shot their semen into women and they called them gods and goddesses and made it so that the act of impregnating was all tied to the seasons, the earth, the very existence of the world depended on the woman wanting to bear the heavy awful weight of touch rather than destroy it.

Sometimes when he touches me it’s like a scream. Like the parts of me that should go soft instead grow as hard and thick as the walls I wish would crumble to the ground.


Photo by David Todd McCarty

Trash Novel

Do you wait until you have collected all of your material before you write it down or do you just start writing and see what happens? I’ve tried it both ways and can’t really say which is better or even easier, but who wants it to come easy anyway?

Difficult doesn’t bother me, it’s boredom that makes me sick. I’d rather back myself into an impossible corner and try to puzzle my way out of it just for kicks instead of sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I like a challenge which is maybe why I like him. The trouble with that is that maybe it’s the only reason I like him and he’s barely got anything to do with it outright. He has a girl all his own from the other side of this town which offers so little and promises even less. She makes him feel either insane or blue depending on how her hormones are running on any given day of the week, but at least on the weekends he can drown her out by getting drunk on the beach among a bunch of their airbrushed airhead friends.

With the sun beaming down on her brown skin, playing upon her golden hair and bouncy full breasts, he can forget for a while that he isn’t in love and it doesn’t matter in any case. He sips his rum and soda as the water is sparkling like diamonds, gulls swooping down between the waves. All he wants is the sand and the surf all around him as often as possible. Not rings, not a wife, not kids, not responsibilities of any kind no matter how hard she tries to convince him otherwise.

There are some people who pretend so well that they convince themselves the world they are living in is not of their own making but rather it has been bestowed upon them by some other worldly being. The hand of a God, be it vengeful or benevolent, which has nothing at all to do with them. Fate is fate, right is wrong is wrong is right, and it’s all anybody’s guess until it’s all over for good, as it will be no matter who’s in charge to begin with.

Such is my obsession with intervening where I do not belong. I want the man I cannot have because I need to prove I can have him because then we will know exactly who is in charge around here and it will be me, come what may. Sometimes I wait and gather my material first. Approach him all the while knowing what buttons to push and when to hang back and let him push the buttons himself. Sometimes I just show up, buy him drinks and see what happens, which is usually my car or his truck or a hotel room on the side of the highway. Seedy? Well, sure. But I never said I was proud of anything, only that I was in control.

There’s a difference, subtle as it may be.

When we kiss in the darkness, it’s like fireworks exploding all across a midnight sky. Even in the dead of night I can feel the warmth of the beach on his smooth tight skin. What is mine and what isn’t somehow blurs between us and we are no longer a part of any of this earthly game. We twist and writhe and play high up above on the stars, spinning and spinning into the infinite beyond. There are no boundaries, no one to blame, only the sweetness of ecstatic sin. The heady thrill of a chase I secretly hope will never end.

I never ask him how he feels about what he does with me behind her back. She’s nothing to me except a part of the reason he gets me so high. But even though I don’t ask, he tells me anyway. We pull up the crisp white sheets and smoke the cigarettes the hotel forbids. Tracing his finger along the tattoo on my left shoulder, he tells me he can’t help it. He doesn’t mean to hurt anybody but the story seems to be writing itself.


Photo by Dainis Graveris


All the things we dare not say swirl around in our stomachs like a thousand butterflies beating their slim shaky wings. I press my lips to the glass just to feel the cold against the warmth of my tongue. I touch a hand to my cheek just to feel like maybe I’m not alone.

You pick me up in your sleek black car and we wind our way through the back country roads, all dotted with deep red farmhouses, endless fields, silos, horses, and sprawling mansions with those heavy wrought iron gates at the end of their miles and miles of driveway. One of the more obnoxious gates is adorned with two giant fierce looking metal eagle statues on either side, all angry eyes and talons clenched around what appear to be two blank blue globes. I guess if you are going to have a pair of mean gigantic raptors at your front entrance, they may as well be screaming.

The afternoon light is fading into a deep orange glow, the way it can only in between seasons. Somewhere suspended between a blood red winter and a pale yellow spring, the light blends itself into a peachy mist and begs us to hang on just a little longer.

As we walk along the tight downtown street, I notice all the people crowded inside the Irish pub and my insides buckle and cringe. Even from outside looking in, I can hear their fevered breathing, see the diseased air hovering over their soggy burgers and fries.

It’s all too much too soon and too little too late and I guess deep down I knew it would be but seeing it happening in real time is enough to blow your mind. How easily we forget, or try to. How desperately we cling to the hope of going back to whatever it was we thought we loved so much but mostly took for granted until they took it all away.



Photo by Kyle Mills

Mirrors and Smoke

Another day slides open outside my window. The deep night sky giving way to a new navy blue dawn as little lights begin to flicker on all around the neighborhood. The smell of coffee rouses my sleepy senses and I head to the kitchen for a cup, my bare feet suddenly cold against the hard wooden floor.

In the days that come, we can expect warmer weather, or so they claim, but growing up around here you know the first few days of spring can be a tease. We once had six feet of snow in April back when I was in high school. The weather, like a life of its own, is a gamble.

I’m heavy into editing some of my older works dating back about a year and a half. It’s hard to believe I have written over five hundred pieces on this site and that some of them are even half decent. Some are about me, some are about other people, some are not about me but claim to be. When you write, you sort of walk a blurred line between truth and untruth, fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes you simply run over it altogether.

Creativity can mean bold but it can also mean disguise. You can tell a thing, and swear by it, and all the while be building a case against it at the very same time. Which is not to say that I’m not telling the truth, but rather only to say that you may or may not ever know.

This is why you should not fall in love with writers. They are impossible to understand. They are impossible to pin down, to penetrate. I once saw a woman author on Twitter completely annihilate some poor sap who claimed to have deep feelings of connection to her because he felt through her confessional writings that he understood her as intimately as he thought he understood himself.

The trouble there is that we are all strangers on the internet. We are all making this shit up to some degree all the time. We build an image, conjure up a fantasy. Love is just a word and relationships are distorted because we have constructed a world which feeds on insecurity and loneliness, and then turns them into currency.

As I write all of this to you, I can see little birds and squirrels coming alive in the early morning light. Soaring from tree top to tree top in the frigid winter air, running up and down the big thick trunks. A pink haze is blending in with the powder blue horizon, like a pastel drawing, or a painting.

There are the dreams we think we can reach out and touch if only we had the nerve. People we think we know because they seem to wear their hearts on their sleeves and bleed on the page for all the world to read. But it is so much trickier than that these days.

So often, maybe too often, what you get is not what you see.



Photo by Ilona Panych

Broken In

I’m trying to meet you where you are but I keep missing the mark. I watch your eyes watching my mouth and I think it’s working. I think I’m getting better but it’s hard to tell if I can be trusted to evaluate such a fragile thing.

You see, I live so much inside my head that I get frantic when I try to step outside of the warm cocoon of my own mind. Unpredictable as my mind may be, I can always find somewhere to hide as long as I stay in here alone.

It’s the people who try to penetrate too deep too soon that I don’t trust. There’s the guy up the street who shoves his thoughts and opinions¬† on me without warning or regard for the fact that I keep walking faster and don’t make eye contact. He just lights up a fresh cigarette and keeps up with my long strides, although with his short idiotic legs and surely smoke-strained heart I’m not even sure how he does it.

This kind of violation has been happening to me all my life. Though it isn’t the worst kind I assure you, it’s still unnerving in the way it reminds me like a sudden jab in the ribs that I am not safe in the world because at any moment something not my own can be jammed into me like a splintered stick in the spokes of the spinning wheel of my one chance at a life less intimidating.

I don’t imagine normal people think this way. I suppose they would just tell the creeps to back the fuck off in no uncertain terms but there is some kind of defect in me. When I’m cornered, something inside shuts off and shuts down.

I’m skittish about feeling too good or too bad in the presence of others. I can’t tell where the boundaries between us are so when someone reaches toward me, I feel like I am falling away. It might be fear but knowing the feeling of fear would mean knowing the feeling of no fear, and somehow being able to sense the difference.

I’m not sure I have ever known a break in the fear.



Photo by Karina Tess

Down This Lonely Road

There is beauty in the madness behind your eyes. I can taste it as if my body were made entirely of tongues.

I’m sorry I make you want bad things. I’m sorry I’m not good enough for you and I complicate even the messiest of messes. I’m at the center of the cyclone at the bottom of the bottle and I can’t feel a thing.

‘Hate’ is a strong word but you use it anyway just to see if anything at all will stick. Words like knives against the wall. Throats like broken glass.

I know I can’t write my way out of this but maybe if I can get you off, I can write you in. You tell me I’m not in control of you. I’m not in control of myself and it’s a problem. I’m always the problem.

And you. You’re never the solution even though I try so hard to make you a piece which will fit inside this heart of mine which sputters and skips along the empty roads so few ventured to follow me down over the years. But you will never fit. And the roads you want to wander down are yours and yours alone.

Time is a tricky thing, you understand. There’s the time pulsing in your hot little hands and then there’s the time measured in terrible mistakes and I’m afraid I’m running out of both.

If you leave me now I can take it, I just don’t know it yet. If you walk out that door I will lock it behind you and unhinge myself from what’s left of my mind.

But my body will remain. This fucking body which screams and screams your name.


Photo by Brooke Cagle

Swear to God

What happens is you ask me, Truth or dare? and I say: both.

Do you believe in God?

I’m just trying to survive the day, you know what I mean. Survive the gray drizzle tapping on the slanted tin roof. Survive the night which is about to unfold in front of us for no reason other than because it has to and it has no other choice.

You didn’t answer my question.

You didn’t listen to my answer. Let me say this another way. I know there’s something out there, something toying with us from the other side, but only if you believe in ghosts. The way a child is a afraid of the dark until one night the dark sits at the edge of the bed, plays with the child’s hair until they become a kind of friends which turns into a secret which never goes away. It just sinks down lower and lower into the child’s bones, and then blooms and lives inside of her, takes on its own variation of feelings, perceptions, intuitions.

There are shadows on the ceiling standing still as they look on, eyeless. You reach out and trace a small symbol on my breast, tell me I should pray.

I don’t believe in your God but I like your fingers on my skin. I imagine going down on you just to prove my point but I’m so sick of your games I just stare off into the distance and swallow the last of my drink.

Sex is God. Whiskey is God. Art is God. Stale mouths and smoky pink skies which rise in the early dawn. And we dance and we fuck and we lie and we all fall down.

I don’t believe in your God so don’t ask. I left God a long time ago but not before he left me a million times over. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in anything it just means I probably don’t believe in you, unless you prove you are really here and really paying attention.

As though reading my mind, you undress and dare me to do the same. It’s a little bit funny and I almost smile when I lay back and raise my arms above my head. When my eyes take in your pale skin and muscular build, the vapors in my blood begin to simmer and I think about how what we really want to worship is danger because in lives as boring as these it’s frighteningly hard to come by.

But you don’t ask me any more questions so I don’t tell you you’re the safest place I’ve ever been in God knows when.



Photo by Ava Sol



Straight No Chaser

Spreading my fingers out over the keyboard, I feel certain this is where I belong even if it doesn’t come out right. I’ve cracked a window open and the air coming in smells like the slightest touch of spring. It dares me to imagine warmer weather moving closer and I almost do.

It’s that time in winter when you are desperate for even just a lick of spring. The trees are dead and the sky is cold in a way that numbs your heart and hardens your skin.

And yet something inside will not loosen its hold around the hope that we just may come through unscathed, alive.

It is, of course, too late for that. Some winters leave scars.

How do you destroy a world? First you lie about it. Then you convince everyone, including yourself, that the lie is the truth. You take reality by the hair and force her face into the dirt. You value money more than people and some people more than others.

We try to live in the space between terror and trust. Our hands tremble when we touch. We reach for a pill, we reach for a gun, but the threat is invisible and it’s found its way inside. It has already multiplied and cannot be undone.

He used to stroke my ego and I used to like it. Told me how beautiful I was, how he could gaze into my eyes for all eternity and stay inside my body forever. For a while I tucked my entire being underneath the promise of that.

But beauty fades and he faded even faster, into the nothingness that is the randomness of a brief encounter with a stranger.

We grasp at straws while praying for wings. We can’t shake the feeling that everything we ever wanted is just around the corner if only we could figure out which corner. But the whispers are only the wind. We circle the block, around and around again.

Our eyes scan the white upon frozen white of winter across the endless hills as we gnash our teeth against the indifference of the cold.

Even still, not everything we wish for is warm. Not everything that’s warm intends to bring us back to life.


Photo by Yohann LIBOT

So Good It Hurts

The sex was so good I’m pretty sure I saw actual stars glistening all around us, shooting and exploding into the darkness. I could feel the heavenly rush of chemicals coursing through my entire body, sending me into a kind of delicious euphoric shock that was waves upon waves of pure pleasure.

Not a bad start on a rainy Sunday morning, as I crawl out from under his slumbering body, pull on my sweats and head down for coffee.

I used to tell myself I could only write under circumstances of extreme, or at least sufficient, melancholy. But ever since I discovered his talent for delivering multiple orgasms, I’ve changed my perspective on the whole situation.

They wouldn’t have you believe it but a writer can write from a place of sweet, sweet pleasure. Or at least I can, which is news to me. Eventually it will all dissipate, of course. And I’ve not told him this because it’d surely collapse his spectacular hard on, but even in my most ecstatic state there is a deep feeling of loss inside of me that just will not let me go.

Ever since I can remember, I have carried an uncanny sense of everything slipping away. It is as though my soul is a thing which dwells just below the surface all the time, and it is watching me as I crumble, minute to minute. Skin cell by skin cell, the life within me is being shed.

We fall into lust and disregard the danger of forgetting that when push comes to shove, we are on our own. This kind of thinking does not make me a hit at parties. This kind of thinking is the kind you tuck inside your tight ass jeans and wrestle with in the silence of your own solitude.

The trouble is that solitude is all there is. You are the only one inside yourself all day, all night. The difference for an artist is that we dive into that abyss instead of trying to bury it by filling it with unimportant shit. We can’t help it.

We want to get to the bottom of it because we know that that abyss is who we are. We know, too, that there is no bottom. This presents a kind of problem we desire to solve and not solve. We want to know the end and we want the end to never come.

When you crave the emptiness they think they are trying to save you from, you learn to become two different people all the time. The one who pretends to understand them, and the one who swears to god you never ever will.

The coffee has kicked in and my fingers are flying across the keys as I punch down some philosophical bullshit just to get the chaos out of my head and onto the page. The writing is the only sacred space. I don’t need self help and I don’t need yoga and I don’t need church. What I need is a life centered around the one thing that doesn’t flinch.



Photo by Rachel Coyne