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,

to kiss and stroke

January 31, 2019

Making love in the afternoon is completely different in summer and winter. To begin as the afternoon light is fading, to wake up, warm and heavy, when it is completely dark, to kiss and stroke the shared invisible body, to leave the person you love half asleep while
you go and open wine…

Jeanette Winterson
Why I Adore the Night

This is how you keep her

January 12, 2019

Kiss her. Slowly, take your time, there’s no place you’d rather be.

Kiss her but not like you’re waiting for something else, like your hands beneath her shirt or her skirt or tangled up in her bra straps. Nothing like that.

Kiss her like you’ve forgotten any other mouth that your mouth has ever touched.

Kiss her with a curious childish delight. Laugh into her mouth, inhale her sighs. Kiss her until she moans.

Kiss her with her face in your hands. Or your hands in her hair. Or pulling her closer at the waist.

Kiss her like you want to take her dancing. Like you want to spin her into an open arena and watch her look at you like you’re the brightest thing she’s ever seen.

Kiss her like she’s the brightest thing you’ve ever seen. Take your time.

Kiss her like the first and only piece of chocolate you’re ever going to taste. Kiss her until she forgets how to count.

Kiss her stupid.

Kiss her silent. Come away, ask her what 2+2 is and listen to her say your name in answer.

Azra Tabassum


December 25, 2018

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen — and kissed me there.

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there.

Walter De La Mare


December 10, 2018

Poetry is a private kiss provocatively exchanged in a public space.

K. Satchidanandan
The Kiss
included in The Mighty Stream, poems in celibration of Martin Luther King eds. Carolyn Forché and Jackie Kay

a witch should not kiss

October 2, 2018

Zdzislaw Beksinski

On the whole I am inclined to think that a witch should not kiss. Perhaps it is the not being kissed that makes her a witch; perhaps the source of her power is the breath of loneliness around her. She who takes a kiss can also die of it, can wake into something unimaginable, having turned herself into some new species.

Emma Donoghue
The Tale of the Kiss
Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

taught to kiss

September 16, 2018

You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we remember what we were taught.

Boris Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago

Night on the Island

September 8, 2018

I have slept with you
All night long while
The dark earth spins
With the living and the dead,
And on waking suddenly
In the midst of the shadow
My arm encircled your waist.
Neither night nor sleep
Could separate us.

I have slept with you
And on waking, your mouth,
Come from your dream,
Gave me the taste of earth,
Of sea water, of seaweed,
Of the depths of your life,
And I received your kiss
Moistened by the dawn
As if it came to me
From the sea that surrounds us.

Pablo Neruda


August 28, 2018

“My God,” he gasped, “you’re fun to kiss.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tender Is The Night

a tale for men

May 15, 2018

Andreas Lie

This is the tale of a quest. It is a tale for men – there is also a tale for women, but I am not the one to tell that tale. Women who come across this tale may ignore it or observe it, help or hinder the hero as they please.

It is a tale that may happen to you, as it has happened in its various ways to many men before you and will happen to many after you. It begins when you have a dream – or rather, a vision, for it is more real than any dream. You see a maiden in a castle surrounded by a barrier of thorns, a maiden who has been asleep for centuries. You learn that the spell which has imprisoned her was cast many generations ago by one of your forefathers. You resolve to find that castle and awaken the maiden, for you realise that she will not be freed unless you attempt that task, and that you must start at once else you will be too late.

And so you set out. Many are the perils that men have encountered on such a journey, and many are the miracles, too. Perhaps you have to cross a trackless desert, or climb a mountain of glass. How have you treated those you met, whether stronger or weaker than you? Have you shared your food, have you treated the animals you met as beings with their own knowledge which is not yours? Perhaps you have helped others because it is in your nature – perhaps it is not in your nature, but you have nonetheless done so because you know it is right. Which of these two is more pleasing I do not know – some say only the first will do, the other being no more than doing what one has learned is useful – others claim there is no credit in what comes naturally, and that choosing to do what is difficult must be what counts.

You have faced many perils, perils which have destroyed some and led others to retreat home. You have passed through them with the aid of those you have helped, perhaps not even being aware that the perils were there. You have come by grace – or by luck, which some say is just another word for grace – to the edge of the lands surrounding the castle.

Here you find the way to the castle is barred by an immense growth of brambles and thorn-bushes. Perhaps you expected that a way would open up before you, as you are the destined saviour of the maiden. If so, you are disappointed. If you push forward boldly, hacking at all the thorns with your sword or axe it will soon be blunted (and if, being a modern man, you chose a flame-thrower or such-like to destroy the thorns, you will find its power has died before you have got far). If you search closely, you will see the remains of a path, and notice that the bushes are less thick near it. As you follow the path it twists and turns, perhaps going backwards for a while, at times you have to stoop or even crawl, and sometimes you have to clear away some of the bushes where they are too thick to make progress, though usually you accept those scratches you receive. And at last, tired and scratched, you arrive at the clear ground in front of the castle.

You enter the castle, and make your way to the room where the maiden lies sleeping. Remembering old stories, you kiss her in the hope that the kiss will bring her back to life. Great is your joy as she wakes up and stands to greet you. But your joy turns to terror, for she has been asleep for centuries and now she is awake those centuries show on her – with each second she seems a year older until you are facing a woman older than you thought was possible.

What do you do now? This is your tale, and I cannot answer that for you. But I can tell you what happened to others. Many, in their terror, rushed away from the castle, pushed their way through the thorns heedless of the deep scratches, and returned to the ordinary world. There some shut out their terror by denying that they ever made such a journey, while others bitterly regretted their faint-heartedness and spent much of their lives searching for a way back. I do not know if any of those ever found their way back; many of them spent so much time searching that the rest of life made no impression on them.

If you are one of those who remained, you will see that the woman is not only older than you thought possible, but also wiser than you thought possible and more fearsome than you thought possible. As she looks at you it seems to you that she is weighing up every action you have ever taken, every thought you have ever had, and will deliver her judgement. It may be that now is the time you choose to run away.

Or perhaps you realise that, though it was a maiden you came in search of, this woman, frightening as she seems, is still the one you sought. If you see this and remain, she changes yet again. Neither a maiden nor an aged woman, she becomes now a woman of your own age, full of strength and majesty and love. Many have reached the maiden, and few of those remained to face the old woman. Few even of those can face her now, and it may be now that you run away. For what she demands of you is nothing less than strength, majesty and love to equal her own, a thing you find harder even than facing the judgement of the old woman.

If you remain and reach out your hand to her, she takes it. Together you leave the castle of vision to live together in the world outside.

“And the story ends,” I hear you say thankfully “as all good stories should with the words ‘And they lived happily ever after.’ ” Of course not! This is not a story told to pass the time when the TV is broken it is a tale of reality. The best I can promise you is that if you have succeeded in coming this far then you will live fully until your death, experiencing the joyousness of your joys, the sadness of your sorrows, the wrath of your angers, the pain of your hurts, and that you will never lose (though you may need to forget for a while) the knowledge of the world’s waking beauty.

Daniel Cohen
Sleeping Beauty