if you separate the lines
The deepest truths
of the human condition
can be revealed
with single line
or a rolling stanza
so can my utter
disdain for ham
the shredded stuff
and still I
to try and tack
some sort of message
or say something
that reveals that
I get you
do you get me
when really my poem
ham and coconut
and doesn’t even rhyme
Laughing as I peer into the crinkly
castaneous confines of my midday repast
receptacle, you mock my mournful
murmurs that my sometimes salami
sandwich is entirely and, completely
"It’s not the end of the world,"
which you say with a smirking
smile not altogether out of place
perched above your deeply cleft
chin and below your awkwardly
"Excuse me?" I ask irately,
intimating that a certain someone
should explain themselves quickly,
quiescent though I had appeared.
Already I am beginning to fume,
furious and sandwich-less.
With a shrug of your shoulders,
sidestepping the question adroitly,
answer you to my round,
reddening face that despite previously
portrayed knowledge, this circumstance
certainly avoids your recall.
Muttering imprecations I say
'shenanigans' right to your face.
"Fallacy and lies!" I triumphantly declare
determinedly, pointing with finger
focused in accusation at aforementioned
And there, ‘lo and behold,
before my suspiciously narrowed eyes
exists a minuscule morsel indelibly
incriminating you as some heinous,
heartless thief of my late, lamented,
"How could you?" I drop my arm,
aching from the tense extension,
electing to rub my poor belly,
belying the neglect it had unavoidably
undergone while I’d been stuck
schooling most of the morning.
"Here I am," whine I, fishing for the guilty
glimmer of conscience with brimming,
batting eyes full of tears. “With nothing
notable to tide me over ‘til dinner,
do not be dismayed when sudden
spells of fainting strike me down.”
"Hollow complaints of your hollow innards,"
indifferently you wave off my woes,
wholly dismissing the trickles of sadness
streaking my skin with your masculine
method of ignoring anything and everything
except exactly what you want.
Disgruntled and stymied, I wipe my primary
ploy to play your heartstrings from my cheeks.
Choosing a different tack, I open my mouth,
marshaling my arguments, but you break
boldly through my coming harangue
heartily with a, “Let’s go out for lunch.”
"Fine," I acquiesce, still unsatisfied
until you take my arm and head door-wards,
deigning to open and then usher
unforgiving me to the car waiting idle.
"I’ll pay." You say, and that makes wide
worlds of difference.
I will gladly forget my salami for that.
The cavernous walls here at the bottom are far enough away that they echo when I call.
I can see the upper edge but I cannot reach, no matter how high on my tiptoes I stand.
There is a desire that goads - coaxes and taunts - as I stand deep in my hole and yearn.
I have hurt myself once more by over-extending in trying to touch the sky.
Just beyond my grasp the blue and white air slips between my fingertips again.
I want out, I want up, I want more. None of this self-pity for me.
Pity, cowering fear, is for those who do not want up, out, and more.
Not paralyzed, I do not lie in wait for opportunity.
I am ever-striving. Ever wanting. Ever hungering.
The void inside creates a vacuum. I’m ravenous.
So much just beyond my hole is waiting, enticing.
I am for making my own opportunities.
To fill the emptiness that means I haven’t
Become that which I am meant to become
Seized created opportunities,
Loved with abandon, laughed in joy,
Killed or birthed, hunted or caught.
I stand at the bottom
In the emptiness
And the essence
I cried upon my return.
I sat on my couch and stared at the far wall, white and undecorated because hanging pictures is low on my priorities. While I sat, I rocked and clutched my teddy bear. Several months older than I am, he is love-soft and smells faintly of my grandmother’s laundry detergent mixed with the dust that accumulates on the top shelf of my closet.
I did not want to be home, I did not want to be away from the man I love, I did not want to be back to the routine of going to work and going home to sleep and going back to work. I could feel the tension knotting into my shoulders once more, when for the past week I had been free of the stretched, claustrophobic feeling that makes me spend my days in quiet anxiety and apprehension.
I do not wonder that I cried until I felt silly doing it and then kept crying.
I had been holding it in while my mother drove me home from the airport, asking the important questions like, “I do not understand how you can be so blithe about living so far apart.” Meaning: How can you do this without emotional pain? And, “You seem to treat him like a sibling and not a lover.” Meaning: Is there romance, is there love? Meaning: I do not want you to be with him just because you have been with him.
I explain, “I don’t think about him being away, so I don’t have to deal with it,” and “I do not want to make myself uncomfortable by blatant physicality in front of my mother, revealing what I consider private and sacred.”
I cannot articulate myself further, to answer the questions behind the questions, so she tries to understand by asking without asking. Her questions become harder still. Am I lingering where it is comfortable because it is comfortable or because the pros still outweigh the cons? Am I living the life I want? Don’t I want the fairytale, since I’ve supposedly found my prince?
Am I happy?
I did not cry then, not in the car.
I still don’t understand, though. What fairytale?
Every stone a day, what is bright and lovely when pulled from the stream is still a rock when dried and set in series with the ones before and the ones after, something only special when set apart by choice. Still, I feel obligated through some eldritch hex to carry guilt that I do not weight the communion of forever partnership heavier than all other concerns upon priorities’ scales.
I cried upon my return.
I cried for my shoulders and for my teddy bear and for my inability to speak.
And, perhaps, I cried for guilt.
I held the seed between my fingers
and looked out from the bluff o’er fields.
From black, bare earth and smolder
flew ash to encrust our shields.
The land is keening.
The common starve.
The battle is over.
I crushed the seed between my fingers
and walked down from the bluff o’er fields.
Across black, bare earth and smolder
to my men carried home on their shields.
“I bite!” Madeline shouted.
“Yes, darling, I know. Now get off the floor, it needs to be swept.” Her mother stretched behind the refrigerator to snag the broom with the very tips of her fingers. “Dinner will be ready in ten minutes. I need you to go wash your face.”
At two, the girl had the cut-through-crowded-restaurants voice. “Bite! Rawr!” She clicked her teeth together in a mock-snarl, snapping at the table leg. She giggled. “Biiiiiiiite.”
Stopping, her mother turned and raises her eyebrows. Overly polite, she queried, “Excuse me, young lady? Did I not just tell you to go wash your face before dinner?”
The girl snapped her teeth together and giggled again.
“I see.” She leaned the broom against the counter and stepped over to the table. Plucking her daughter up by the leg so that she hung upside down in front of her face, she closed her eyes against the delighted shriek that caught her full in the face.
"I’m going to remember to muzzle you someday," she said, blinking. "Madeline. Get.”
She threw her down the hallway that ran from the kitchen to the bathroom.
It gratified her to see her daughter twist and flick her wings out to catch the air, slowing herself enough to use the wall to take the corner and glide down the hall. Her reflexes were improving. Soon there wouldn’t be any room for the growing child to practice indoors where the air was relatively still.
Madeline thumped to the carpet and ran barefoot into the bathroom as her wings dissolved behind her. Returning to the broom and sweeping up a few crayon carcasses into her waiting dustpan, her mother kept her ears open. The water ran and the sound of vigorous scrubbing floated down the hallway. Hopefully the crayon particles all over her daughter’s face were making it mostly into the sink. It was already starting to seem like one of those days.
Of all the lies my father told
I know this to be true.
You have never loved me,
And I never you.
Janet was early. A decade early and a whole lot less human than my mam’s favorite soothsayer foretold. Said Janet’d find me with a blaze of light, an angelic chorus, and a gentle kiss.
Blaze of light? Indisputable. The brushfire I was puttin’ out lay right ‘cross the road. The angel’s voice was a dirty engine that made my fingers itch to help sing proper.
The kiss, though…
Front tire slammed my gut. Lucky she didn’t kill me.
Soothsayer lied, said she kissed gentle.
Roadside prognostication’s ‘you get what you pay for’, so, of course, she didn’t.
The ancient hand-held radio spit out more static than music. Rich scents of alfalfa, loam and rotting leaves filled the autumn twilight, thick and heady. In the bed of the truck, hands on each others hips and a horse blanket itching beneath their bare shoulders, the couple exchanged whispers and soft laughter.
A vampiric orchestral theme broke through the static along with a ghoulish voice. “The barrier between this world and the next thins on All Hallow’s Eve.” Cheesy laughter - ‘muah ha ha’ - trailed off into pops and fizzles and the next tinny rock song that played accompanied the sound of lips meeting.
Soon: “Baby.” He smiled up at her face - freckled with an upturned nose. She panted at him, her cheeks red from the chill in the air. “Baby. We have to be at the party soon.”
“And we promised,” she said, smoothing his rock-star-long hair out of his eyes and drawing her fingers through the stubble under his chin. “I’ll find the shirts. We can put ‘em on driving.”
He caught her arm before she slipped out of the truck, planting a kiss on her wrist and earning a smile in return. By the time she had gathered their discarded clothing and costumes, he had started the car and was waiting to pull back onto the road.
“You have to put on the mask before we go anywhere,” she said, climbing into the passenger seat, proffering a limp gray mask, and fishing in the glove-box for a bottle of fake blood. “It’ll be more fun if we show up with everything on.”
“Yeah, yeah.” He slipped the mask on and leered at her, affecting the classic-Hollywood Dracula, “I vant to suck your blud!” She shrieked as he bit a string of kisses from her neck to her thumb. Her teasing struggles covered the meaty, ripping sound from outside the cab.
Laughing by the time he finished kissing her, she pulled on her own mask and arranged the bandages to flatter her dime-store Egyptian earrings. “We can put on your cape when we get there.”
The bump when back tires found the road disguised the weight that climbed into the bed of the truck.
Their friends threw the party in an old barn miles from everywhere. Light spilled through the slats between the boards, a glow they saw before they topped the hill that hid the the abandoned farm from the surrounding residences. Next to the barn, a farmhouse crouched, dark and rotting.
The truck illuminated the farmhouse windows as they descended the hill, throwing the shadow of a giant teacup on the wall of the kitchen. As they watched, a brick fell from the chimney and punched a hole through the roof. She shivered, clutching at his arm. “Totally haunted. This place is perfect.”
After they parked in a graveled drive half-full of cars, she hopped down out of the cab. Dust clung to every one of her bandages. She complained about the stains as she helped him tie his cape and affix the plastic ruby brooch at his throat.
“Just enjoy, Baby,” he whispered into the bandages just above her earring and nudged her through the doors.
The barn easily fit the hundred who showed up to dance. Despite the sequined laughter of crowd, however, it still managed to be appropriately Halloween. Fake cobwebs mixed with the dingy, gray real, and huge bubbling cauldrons of dry ice made the gaps between her bandages feel chill and clammy. The hay had rotted in the loft and every so often a glob of matter splashed down onto the dancers below, dislodged by the bass.
A DJ stood in the corner and tended his turntables, running his thumbs along the mixing pads that helped him slow-fade from one song to another. A scuffle in the corner accompanied cries of ‘dead rat, dead rat’, but the event lost out to her and his desire to celebrate.
The two of them danced and kissed and danced some more. What little conversation took place kept itself outside the barn in the light-striped dirt at its sides.
Suggestions to investigate the house were laughed away. Even the bravest considered it one heavy breath away from collapse. Heat, music, and the electricity of skin on skin was far preferable to foolish horror-movie idiocy.
His cape and her mask-and-earrings were set aside soon after they arrived, lost underfoot or on a drink table or ground into the cracks between the concrete slabs that formed the floor. It became a game for him to catch her up and nibble a kiss into her neck before she’d have a turn to shamble after him until she cornered him with a knot of celebrants.
She laughed when he captured a wandering Elvis and planted a kiss right on his lips. She made them hold still so she could get a picture of it on her cellphone.
The shadow slipped from the bed of the truck and onto the ground, gaining shape and volume and height. It left no footprints and raised no dust.
A latecomer bidding a couple of his friends a good time as they stayed in the car walked straight through the shadow without recognizing its presence. Bits of it clung to his shoes as he entered and detached as he joined the dancing.
As the shadow coalesced in a corner, growing in size and gaining shape, the DJ announced a retro song and a cheer went up. With most party-goers singing at the top of their lungs, eyes closed and heads thrown back, the now-creature plucked the rat carcass from inside its limb and discarded it. It breathed, filling new lungs with air heavy with sweat and dust and heat.
It claimed a discarded bow-tie and and a bikini top and finished its transformation into an androgynous humanoid. It tied on both the bow-tie and the bikini-top and left its lower half bare, choosing instead to leave its shaggy legs and hooved feet uncovered.
The familiar song over, the dancers once more separated into group, cleaving to friends and letting the music carry their heartbeats.
The shadow caught a ghost. The ghost’s eyes, all that could be seen through the scissored holes in the sheet, widened in surprise. The ghost saw it grinning in pleasure and invitation, a shadow without a face, filled in by expectation. Despite the click-click of the hooves and the pebbles-in-a-glove feel of the hands on its shoulders, the ghost nodded agreement and the two began to dance.
Old music began to play, older than waxed drum inscribed with a needle. It began low, and soft, and did not overpower the DJ. Instead, it followed the shadow and the ghost as they danced, steps delicate and intricate, the percussion of their heels and the harmony of their movement making the dance a full symphony. The shadow drew the ghost close, pressing into the sheet with the cold planes of its body. Once more, the empty face held a question.
The ghost nodded and whispered, “Bring them all,” and party became revel.
The music could not hide the ripping, rending, and tearing noises. A confused, bated hush fell over the celebrants as, from the edges of perception, things crept inside the barn. Along the walls. Across the ceiling. From the cracks in the floors. Things came, mostly in humanoid forms, grotesque. Horned and hooved, clawed and fanged. They descended upon the guests.
Every creature claimed a partner. Elvis stared into the too-large eyes of the hellspawn that chose him, trying to avoid looking at the long forked tongue that flicked out and in as it breathed.
The mummy, freckled, sans earrings, clung to her vampire’s hand as a succubus accosted him, drawing her tail between his legs and a clawed finger along the line of his jaw. His grip tightened on his girlfriend’s hand, but the succubus tugged him away.
Left alone and un-partnered, the mummy turned to run. Before she took two steps, however, she fetched up against someone hard and cold. She looked down, very slightly down, and tried to back away when she recognized the figure.
The ghost - a true ghost - put out his hand to stop her. His spectral fingers held her wrist as she tugged to pull away, her breath coming in short gasps. “No. Go away.”
“The barrier thins,” the ghost told her. “Some of us step across.”
The music began again. In the corner, the DJ appeared preoccupied with a pair of inquisitive imps. The small creatures, red-eyed and furry, pressed buttons they shouldn’t. The songs switched at random, some playing the same vocal line over and over, some skipping tracks after a few brief moments. The dancers tried to keep up.
Some of the costumed partigoers accepted the spirit of the revel immediately, drunk or high or foolish or courageous. Others evaded their partners from beyond the veil and fled to their cars. A chorus of motors sounded from outside in the makeshift parking lot, drivers with keys, able to flee. The creatures froze those who did not run or accept the revel, placing them in solemn lines about the edges of the barn, able to watch but not move.
No one screamed.
The mummy and the true ghost claimed a corner between a frozen greek god and his caryatid counterpart. Tears ran down the stilled woman’s face. The mummy sat on the floor, crossed her legs, and stared at her hands.
“I never thought to see you again,” she said, the sound of renewed laughter washing over the pair. The dancers now made more diverse sounds. Thudding and squeaking and snarling intermingled with the jingle of jewelry, the squeak of leather and rubber on concrete.
Each breath she took felt distant, belonging to another. Hand on her chest, her fingers tingled and numbed, and her heartbeat seem to stutter. “I’m glad I’m sitting.”
“I never said goodbye.” She covered her mouth and spoke the words into her hand. The sharp claws of a beast stepped inches away from her knee as it whirled its partner. Swing dancing.
The ghost rested a hand on her shoulder. “I knew.”
Timid, she reached out a hand and brushed the hair over the exit wound on the back of his skull. She started to speak, but he stopped her with a small, quelling noise in the back of his throat. “Don’t. This is goodbye.”
She folded her arms across her chest. Eyes dry, she took a deep breath, “No coulda-woulda-shouldas, huh?”
He smiled, older-brother fond, and said, “We can dance.”
They left the god and goddesses, immobile beyond quivering, and joined the press on the dance floor. Gyrating bodies filled the barn near to bursting, crowded with dancers taller and wider than their mortal counterparts.
The sister noticed now more ghosts among the dancers, preserved in death as they left the realm of the living. Men and women missed limbs and organs, danced without eyes and mouths and ears and hair, variously charred and flattened and embedded with glass. The ones without an obvious death scared her the most. More than monsters came through the barrier this night.
She danced with her brother, a slow wedding waltz, as the revel grew louder, rowdier, and more fierce. Some of the statues at the side melted into mobility and joined with creatures, claimed upon their first step. The chaos increased as the human participants forgot the world beyond the barn and set the ground to trembling.
Dawn arrived too soon. At the first glimmer of sunlight through the gaps in the walls, the partiers dropped their arms and blinked at each other in the barn’s musty haze. The music, small and tinny in the morning light, faded as the DJ stirred. Sleepy, murmuring, the costumed awoke. No creatures. No statues. No sign of anything but an elation that carried through beginning hangovers.
They trickled out in ones and two to find their cars, spreading away from the barn, mussed, torn and exhausted. Somehow no one was surprised that the farmhouse had collapsed overnight.
The glaze-eyed vampire found his thoughtful mummy unwrapped and excavating her earrings from the packed gravel. He held her tight to his side for a moment as he stared at the rubble of the farmhouse.
“Baby, I think the party did that. Didn’t hear it go. Did you?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No. I didn’t hear anything. You okay? Did you take something last night?”
“Naw, didn’t take anything. The whole thing just-” he cut himself off with half a hiccup and kissed her dirty cheek.
“Yeah,” she said, “I know.”
In my dreams
I am hunted
I hide desperate
but decay clings
hounds on the trail
danger following close
as white pants
at social gatherings
personifications of death
my dreams are filled
with blood and fear
I sleep lightly
And wake early
Okay, so, I’m warning you now, I’m going to start posting more fanfic and original fiction, since this name is the same as my ao3 account name. Fair warning, no harm in unfollowing, thank you for your kindness!
Also there will be bad poetry. I’m very, very sorry for the bad poetry, but apparently I write an awful lot of it. (Pun intended)
He sucked the dirt from the metal and spat, holding his prize up to the light to see what he had found. Silver and ceramic made him laugh and drop his head back onto the pillow of his lover’s ribs.
“What’s-?” Lazy, she only asked half the question. She sprawled content on their blanket, sun- and sex-warmed, her eyes closed against the dappled sunshine that came through the leaves above. Her fingers threaded his hair, and her nails scratched against his scalp to draw a contented hum from his throat.
“Have you ever seen Peter Pan?” he asked.
She cracked an eyelid at that, peering down at his upturned grin. “Read.”
“I know- I know, uncultured swine, me. Books superior and all that.” Unperturbed, he held up his thumb capped with the flat-topped cone of a decorative thimble. The glaze had cracked, sundering the blue vines and painted leaves into tiny, wobbly squares, but the metal still gleamed. “I have, however, seen the stage play, so I am perhaps not too far down on your list of possible summer flings?”
“Perhaps not.” Her expression softened, with nostalgia among other things. “A thimble.”
“Are you secretly a romantic?”
He gestured at the hill beyond them. At the sweet-smelling grass that had bruised beneath their footsteps as they’d climbed to their picnic tree. At the grazing horses that whickered greetings to passing riders and their mounts. At the far-distant city, a smudge on the horizon different only from a storm cloud in that it had grown no closer during their idyll. “Do you know how long it took me to find this place? A spreading oak a-hilltop, with gnarled bole and shade-perfect leaves?”
“Is that a quote?” She captured his hand, pulled it close to kiss the palm, the thimble. “Minutes at least.”
His smile turned inward. “Mere minutes, of course.”
Reaching for the thimble, she asked, “Is it for me?”
“The kiss.” Her nail clicked against the metal. A light tap to indicate which kiss she meant.
“It’s your kiss,” he agreed easily.
Her eyebrows rose. “But you won’t give it to me.”
He turned his face from her to stare up at the branches. The leaves rustled and nearly covered his quiet admission. “I’m keeping every one of your kisses.”
The space between them grew, though neither of them moved. His gifted tree rained small twigs into their hair, upon their naked chests. He held her hand tight. She toyed with the lobe of his ear, traced the shell before she bent to speak so he would hear.
“You’ll see me again,” she said at last. “A promise I shall seal with a kiss.”
“Seal it with a thimble,” he said. “I gave you a tree.”
She pulled him from where he lay to stretch out at her side. Pressing her lips to his, she murmured into their warmth. “I grant you both a thimble and a kiss.”
“And I decide which is which?” he asked when they broke apart.
“The kiss will last you longer, I think,” she said, plucking the notion from his thumb and smiling at his protest.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” he said, folding his hands over hers to reclaim his find, “And I wish you were never wrong, but I took more than few minutes to find this tree. Trust me when I say your thimble will outlast your kiss.”
One part oatmeal and three parts magic, she was a mix of shadow and light, bitter and bright. She offered absolution in an outstretched palm and I - a shy child, faded and crumbling - refused with tears. She left and I could not say that she despised me. She walks with a potato-peeler, a mundane, stolen terror that reveals bone one confession at a time.
This morning I misremembered speech, and freed a god created in my kitchen by a wisp of errant prayer.