And some would have described her as a girl with piercing blue eyes, but we knew she was not the Main Character, so we left off with that. Interestingly, the next customer was a man with piercing brown eyes, which we hadn’t thought of before. However, this observation led more to us discussing what piercing really meant than to our decision about the man’s status as a character. In that way, he was allowed to be more real than the rest of us.

     Should we consider the contest? That was what some of us wanted to know, to define the rules, fix them to the board and our minds. Unfortunately, the line was starting to get held up. We served them coffee. Some had tea. When they needed eggs, they were cracked. When they needed lemons, they were sliced. We did more sometimes, but that was the gist of it.

Daytime is hell. The moonlight is mine. I could never sleep. Stood over my mother and father, as they slept. A knife in my hand, a tear on my cheek. I couldn’t do it. Along with the pain they caused, there was love. I knew they couldn’t help it. Dum and Mad.

I made friends with the shadows to stop the torment. Watched bubbles blow and flow on a breeze I controlled with my mind. I saw faces everywhere. Fiends. The creeps spoke to me.

     At midnight, he invited me back for curry, and I am a sucker for shy excuses. He never turned on the lights. We never had curry. I heard the scratching then but ignored it. I was drunk and wanted his pants off.

     I screamed, waking at dawn. A clear plastic tunnel ran over my head, around the room, and through the walls. Looking down at me was a penis with sawed-off teeth.

     “Naked mole rats,” he said into the pillow. He’d brought home that many women.

The electron looks like it wants you. Nothing flashes desire
like acrobatic ambivalence. Like irreconcilable cleavage.

You want an unfailing confusion, honest against you in bed. Not your
other half. Your inmost mosaic, your micro shatterings. Not a mirror.
An atom’s latticed window. Through it,
a tiny bird flying in every direction at once.

You send the electron an advance. Tell yourself it must be real,
it must be real, to account for missing
momentum, missing energy. (more…)

I threw up again this morning.
This hasn’t happened in months, but the burn feels the same as it always does.
Last night’s sandwich spurts, then drips, out of me: a fire that runs on it’s own because my eyes are shut tight, shoving out the light.
Wish it was a hangover.
Or food poisoning.
The flu, something I could cure.

I was a senior in high school when headaches forced themselves into my daily life, when I woke up with a little bit of the night before’s food stuck to my lip because the pain secured its place again. Caused me to perish. Succumb. Stay in bed. Cry. Run to the bathroom. Vomit. Sit with my legs crossed and stretch my arms over my head. Close my eyes. Focus on the pounding. Let it create a symphony made of pain, one that played only in my ear drums.

I’d think of the the pain, feed it like an addiction.
It reminded me to feel.
Feel always.
Feel deeply. (more…)

237 cabinets.  You are a woman.  You are poison.  Thorned in this palm, a peony unfurling.  When there is a massacre, when the people split and the heavens hide their gods, you refuse to leave the throne.  At tea, the devil’s trumpet.  And all of the ladies unlace.  Just a little.  There hasn’t been a moment for breath.  And if they would call you a great king, cunt and all, would you accept the compliment?  But they will never.  Behind the first door is a pair of perfumed gloves.  A fork behind the second.  Some science that sounds like sorcery, third.  How dare you be Italian.  You are a curiosity in your own cupboard.  Bad mother.  And you are.  And you are not.  Belladonna.  Black widow.  When you prick your own finger, what do you taste on your tongue?

According to Blue Pearl Investment Management’s vastly interconnected computations, Kenny sovereign – self-proclaimed mayor of Mockerton, landlord of the Sovereigns pub, proprietor of Sovereign’s cars a’bargain and lead singer of Kenny Sovereign and the Go Hards – was a grade A, titanium coated, two spits to the wind, asshole.

It hadn’t always been so – when the markets dove deeper than a beaked whale, Kenny’s money had popped and bobbed Blue Pearl to safety. Kenny was square on the donut list.

Then came the call. I’m moving my money he’d said, I’m doing something down here, for the community.

Fucking community snarled Gerald – VP, son of MD, and the tantrum rippled out, accruing significance until it reached Duggan – the best asshole wrangler in the business. ​ (more…)

              to Ms. Smith

I got my Vitamin D this morning from that lovable vacuum cleaner in the sky. It was so pretty my prayer beads sang. I met Jesus the Feminist and staffed UNICEF all in an instant. The moment was medical engineering. It was the anaphora I feed myself in the dark. It was an arrowhead carved from the granite in my belly. It stunk and spat and danced and sparkled. And then it rotted in my hand. But that’s how I knew it was real. By noon it was dust. So I kept walking. Smiles ranging a quarter-mile. (more…)

“He snickered disagreeably. ‘Me, no,’ he said, ‘me, I don’t hang around here after dark.’ Grinning, satisfied with himself, he stood away from the car … perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneering Cheshire Cat, yelling each time that I should be happy to find anyone willing to hang around this place, until dark, anyway.”
                                                                                    Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House


     There will always be a Dudley the caretaker dispensing unwanted advice, undermining your resolve to go on that year-long safari, or ignore those travel advisories from the State Department, or explore that haunted house—give up your job, your apartment, and just take off without telling any friends. Maybe you consider your friends much too cautious, or have no friends you care about. You’re drawn to the dark. You crave the unknown, the thrill of finally leaving the ordinary behind.

     You’ve been invited to Hill House by some paranormal researcher you don’t know, your monstrous mother’s finally dead, you’re free to go. You’re haunted too. You’ve been having dreams where you run up and down stairways, out of breath, corridors twist and turn and you’re completely lost, no way to retrace your steps. You quicken your pace and your heart begins to pound. Whispers from the empty elevator shaft are getting louder. Is it your mother, come back from the dead? You peer down into the darkness, swaying on your feet.

     When you accepted the invitation to spend a week with strangers, you were thinking a real haunted house might dispel those dreams and memories. Or maybe you weren’t really thinking, just obeying your instinct to escape now that the door to your cage was open.