expression of sexuality

June 16, 2019

In Dracula, blood is of utmost importance. The novel opens with Jonathan Harker’s experience in Dracula’s castle, the first proof of the supernatural power and unnatural pull of vampires, and the first few examples of their overwhelming appetite for blood. The act of taking blood and allowing blood to be taken is eroticized in the novel, and the absolute necessity of blood for vampires in order to survive connects the creatures and their blood lust to exaggerated, violent sexual images. Built on many aspects of Gothic horror with these tropes of Dracula’s castle shifted to and set against Victorian-era London later in the novel, Dracula emphasizes the corrupting foreign influence of the Transylvanian vampire and his hunt for blood as he invades the patriarchal society at the center of the story. The lead characters are modern and chaste, as per the era’s societal expectations, directly in opposition to Dracula, an inhuman demon, a creature on a constant hunt for young blood, a predator whose influence tests Victorian conceptions of gender roles and the expression of sexuality. Dracula directly attacks women, so the men seek to protect the women and their innocent forms from the sexual outsider, Dracula, but in turn, the men are tempted greatly by the corrupted females with their inviting, vampiric tendencies. These warped women appear first in the form of Dracula’s brides, three vampiric beings exerting a tempting force on Jonathan Harker, and later Lucy Westenra becomes a threat as well in her vampire form. Mina Harker’s possible transformation into a vampire leads up to the climax in the novel, as the male characters race to prevent her change into a monstrous and hypersexualized form.

Sean Bernhard
The Blood is the Life

Down There

May 14, 2019

Yes,
I want to talk at length about Men-
struation. Or my period.
Or the rag as you so lovingly put it.
All right then.

I’d like to mention my rag time.

Gelatinous. Steamy
and lovely to the light to look at
like a good glass of burgundy. Suddenly
I’m an artist each month.
The star inside this like a ruby.
Fascinating bits of sticky
I-don’t-know-what-stuff.
The afterbirth without the birth.
The gobs of a strawberry jam.
Membrane stretchy like
saliva in your hand.
It’s important you feel its slickness,
understand the texture isn’t bloody at all.
That you don’t gush
between the legs. Rather,
it unravels itself like string
from some deep deep center –
like a Russian subatomic submarine,
or better, like a mad Karlov cackling
behind beakers and blooping spirals.
Still with me?

Oh I know, darling,
I’m indulging, but indulge
me if you please.
I find the subject charming.

In fact,
I’d like to dab my fingers
in my inkwell
and write a poem across the wall.
“A Poem of Womanhood”
Now wouldn’t that be something?

Words writ in blood. But no,
not blood at all, I told you.
If blood is thicker than water, then
menstruation is thicker than brother-
hood. And the way

It metamorphosizes! Dazzles.
Changing daily
like starlight.
From the first
transparent drop of light
to the fifth day of chocolate paste.

I haven’t mentioned the smell. Think
Persian rug.
But thicker. Think
cello.
But richer.
A sweet exotic snuff
from an ancient prehistoric center.
Dark, distinct,
and excellently
female.

Sandra Cisneros

Thesis: I’ve lost my virginity seven times and still haven’t managed to lose my vagina.
1: The Breaking of the Hymen
• I didn’t even bleed. The dryer ate a sock.
2: Lesson on ‘Romance’
• Strawberry Shortcake underwear near my ankles, he pulled out.
3: One-Night- Repeated Stands
• He lived with his parents, we fucked to Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me.’
4: Soul Mates
• Two pumps. Two months. That lasted long.
5: First Time Initiating
• Freshman in college. He still loved his ex. His dick didn’t work.
6: Older Man
• 25, told me to ‘suck it.’ It was unreciprocated. He says he still loves me.
7: Ex-Boyfriend
• ‘No one will ever make you feel like that again.’
Conclusion: If I lost my virginity, each man must have found it, in their own special way.

Alex Brandow

a man slaughters a goat

March 28, 2019

In my earliest memory, a man slaughters a goat in my bathroom. In Rabat, I am nameless, another Moroccan girl to be looked at but not seen. When goats cry, it sounds just like a baby. I couldn’t list all the terrible things we do to one another.  I remember the goat kicking out, frantic. The shattered mirror. The stumbled prayer. I was sick every visit: my stomach heaving dirty water. I would cry and everyone else would tsk, murmur American. Once, I kissed someone and I’m afraid it ruined the world. I’ve learned that it’s not what you do with the knife — it’s how you hold it after. But how do you hold something like that? Something that never stops baring its teeth; a voiceless dog, all bite, no bark. I remember very clearly that I never saw any blood. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know what to do with a knife. I didn’t even know what to do with that mouth.

Yasmin Belkhyr
Surah Al-Fatiha,
Bonelight

Love

March 19, 2019

When I fed the pigs and two of them got to scrapping over an old soft onion, I thought: that’s love. Love is eating. Love is a snarling pig snout and long tusks. Love is the colour of blood. Love is what grown folk do to each other because the law frowns on killing.

Catherynne M. Valente
Six Gun Snow White

sex was scary

March 7, 2019

“Those Victorians always coupled sex with death,” writes Margaret Atwood in a recent short story published in The New Yorker. This particular comment comes at the conclusion of the story, after an elderly woman exacts fatal revenge on her childhood rapist, whom she encounters on a booze cruise for seniors. As Atwood notes, the Victorians were always coupling sex and death, and they had good reason: sex was scary. Without modern medicine, childbirth was risky and infant mortality was high. Further, diseases like syphilis and other venereal diseases posed an additional threat that could be fatal. The Victorian vampire is a spot-on literary manifestation of these fears. Penetration by the vampire could leave the victim dead.

Emily Schuck
Re-masculating the Vampire: Conceptions of Sexuality and the Undead from Rossetti’s Proserpine to Meyer’s Cullen

breathe blood

February 24, 2019

There is blood everywhere and I am lost in it. I breathe blood, not air.

Kelly Cherry
Lady Macbeth on the Psych Ward

Send an angel

January 27, 2019

Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?

Thomas Daggett
The Prophecy

taste their own blood

December 29, 2018

She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.

In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?

Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin

better after dark

December 18, 2018

Honest. You’ll have to trust me. After midnight I’m so cute – so sweet, too! Sweet as the taste of a virgin’s blood, which always tastes so much better after dark.