he was not rash / not at first / he measured your breaths / built you into a puzzle, allowed you the challenge / of unlocking him

while you slavered like a clawed thing / newborn and wailing / running at everything full force / streaked in red

he has reached inside you / not with hands / but / plucked the firstfruit of your heart / passed it under his palm / revealing a fluttering bird / a rabbit / a scarf

his tongue bends light / twists shapes in the air / cuts knots / he has riddled his way out of death / and left it grinning

yet when you found the key it swung him wider open / than a pit mine / and you, still running / leapt / or fell / or threw yourself into the welcoming dark / as far down as

*

people are rabbit holes and you do not know, little clawed thing, you do not know what grows here that the magic papers over, you do not know what pain is so bottomless only a miracleman can keep clear of it, you do not know what he has kept secret even from you / all you see is the darkness, the lonely fall forever, but you are a wild beast and you fall and fall willingly in hopes of the end, the land where you can feast on the depths of his heart, where the riddles lie open before you and their answers are sweet / falling so fast that you scream, you beat your fists against him, and still there is no end, there is no –

*

i’m sorry / he said / as you landed gasping on the grass / i’m sorry / i miscalculated

as if it was he who did the leaping

he ruefully smiled / shone your wounds closed / and shut himself

i’m sorry / he said / as if a kinder him could unleap you
but the darkness shone between you brighter than light / bigger than you / or him / or even his words / even spells that twist starlight cannot undo this joining and you want the darkness again / falling or not / screaming or not / with a wanting worse than starvation

you leapt full force at him again and met only / slight breeze / kokyunage / one fingertip deflects you into laughter

the sun’s rays cupped / in the palm of his hand

Ada Hoffmann

Ode to the Areola

March 22, 2020

Dark pigmented nebula
deepening around the nipple
after childbirth, purple
haze surrounding
the storm’s eye

not to be confused with
aureole — that crown of light
radiating from saints’ heads
in certain medieval paintings
from the Latin aureolas
derived from aurum
meaning, ‘gold’

which is also the root for oriole —
those amber-plumed passerines
flashing against late July’s foliage
aging from Kool-Aid lime
to hunter green. Until recently

I thought areola descended
from the same root as orioles
and saints’ crowns. But in fact
it derives from the Latin word
for ‘open place’— which might
connote to a sun-filled plaza
somewhere in Tuscany

and not a chocolate cloud
capping the snowy flesh
my newborn rooted for at dawn
his mouth a withered rose
his head a halo of light.

Angela Narciso Torres

serves up my heart

March 22, 2020

She walks into my life legs first, a long drink of water in the desert of my thirties. Her shoes are red; her eyes are green. She’s an Italian flag in occupied territory, and I fall for her like Paris. She mixes my metaphors like a martini and serves up my heart tartare. They all do. Every time. They have to. It’s that kind of story.

Catherynne M. Valente
The Bread We Eat in Dreams

“What do the fat brides do?” June asks as the they hitch the dress up over her narrow shoulders. She’s the only customer in the bridal shop; all three clerks are waiting on her. One is looking for a veil while the other two are busy with clothespins, pulling the dress tighter around her chest, nipping it in at the waist. They only carry one size, a ten.

“Oh, the plus-sized girls hold the dress in front of them.”

“Curious. It’s an act of faith then, giving you all that money without knowing what they’ll look like in the end?“

“All brides are beautiful.”

“No, they aren’t. That’s like saying all children are good.”

The older woman, the one with the Chanel glasses and sharp nose shakes her head. “There, all done. Do you like this one?”

June touches the bodice, the tiny pink-hued pearls sewn on by hand, and pushes her fingers into the deep folds of silk gathered at the back.

“It’s fine. I’ll take it.”

“Do you want me to take a Polaroid? You can show your mother, or your fiancé if you don’t believe in bad luck,” the youngest one says. Her voice is high-pitched and uncertain. She wants to please.

“My mother is dead and I believe in bad luck.”

“Well, you’ll just surprise him. When is the big day?” the third one says and helps her out of the dress.

“Soon,” June says.

Heather Austin
All Exits Are Final

Please forgive me for writing to you like this, but it was such a great and unexpected pleasure to speak with you on Sunday afternoon in the waiting room at the dock. At my age, few things are unexpected, and one spends considerable effort avoiding shocks and disappointments. I don’t suppose you would understand, but it is the sort of mental habit you develop when you reach old age.

But this past Sunday was different. Time seemed to have stopped, and I found myself being led to a place I had never even imagined.

It would be only natural that you despise me for the disgusting incident I provoked at the hotel, and I had been hoping even before we met to make a proper apology. But the open and completely unguarded way you looked at me left me bewildered that I was unable to say anything to the point. Thus, I wish to offer you my apologies in this letter.

I have lived alone for a long time now, and I spend my days locked away on the island with my translations. I have very few friends, and I have never known a beautiful girl like you. It has been decades since anyone waved good-bye to me the way you did. I have walked along that dock countless times, but always alone, never once having cause to turn back to look for anyone.

You waved to me as if I were an old friend, and that gesture – insignificant to you – was enormously important to me. I want to thank you … and thank you again.

I come into town every Sunday to do my shopping, and I will be in front of the flower clock in the plaza about two o’clock in the afternoon. I wonder whether I shall have the good fortune to see you there again. I have no intention of trying to extract a promise from you – think of my request as simply an old man’s ramblings. Don’t give it a second thought.

The days seem to grow steadily warmer, and I suspect you will be busier at the hotel. Please take care of yourself.

PS. I know it was rude of me, but I took the liberty of finding out your name. By coincidence, the heroine of the novel I am translating now is named Marie.

Yoko Ogawa
Hotel Iris
Trans: Stephen Snyder

Sad to think that the UK’s Labour party is destroying itself. It seems to have an obsession with trendy-left-wing identity politics, which has systematically and almost surgically removed its traditional voter base.

Does the Labour party ever want to win an election again?

It looks as if the answer is NO!

The whole mess is simply made worse by the fiasco of their ‘lack of leadership contest.’

Corbyn, bless his flame-red cotton socks, should have done what all others have done in his same position, and GONE! Departed! Taken his leave! Buggered off!

The candidates bidding to lead the scrapheap of Labour need to realise that reassembling the party’s support in its traditional backyard should be the Number One priority – yet it has barely been mentioned by the party’s senior bods.

We are witnessing the slow death of a political party, because the party appears lost in a wilderness of self-indulgence, divorced from all political reality!

caught masturbating

March 22, 2020

I had my hair permed for the first and last time when I was 10 years old.

An hour or two after we returned home from the hairdressers, my mother caught me masturbating in the lounge room. In 1986, it was acceptable for 10-year-olds to get perms, but not to masturbate in the lounge room, so when she caught sight of me, my mother let out a kind of shocked wail.

“Oh, Shelly,” she said. “And you looked so pretty with your new hair.”

I realised in that instant that I could either be pretty or I could be sexual, but I couldn’t be both. And I should never, ever masturbate in the lounge room.

Michelle Dicinoski
By our own hands

can’t hold back

March 22, 2020

I love that moment when you reach the edge and can’t hold back any longer. Your mind just folds-up like an umbrella as your cock spasms with a life of its own in my hand.