Ode to Julie

July 6, 2020

Who claimed she could bend spoons,
and did, twisting them around her wrists,
bracelets that jangled with silver hunger,
their lunettes humping up her arms
like shiny serpents.

Who invited her feminist friends
to topless teatime, which was just as it sounds,
a dozen of us hiding behind our elbows,
strategically holding mugs of chamomile
while Julie read tarot.

Who once borrowed from me
plaid pants she loved so much
that when I asked for them back, she peed
right there, in the street, in my pants,
which I let her keep.

Who laughed when I asked her for a date,
then kissed me so hard I didn’t notice
she never gave me a yes or no, just swung
like Salome down the sidewalk, me licking
her pomegranate gloss.

Jennifer Perrine


July 2, 2020

Are you happy? You wouldn’t say!
And for the better — let it be!
To me, it seems you’ve kissed too many,
There lies your grief.

All the Shakespearean tragic heroines,
I see in you.
But you, a young and tragic lady
No one has saved!

You’ve grown so worn,
Repeating that erotic
Chatter. How eloquent,
That iron band around your bloodless hand.

I love you — sin hangs above you
Like a storm cloud!
Because you’re venomous, you sting,
You’re better than the rest,

Because we are, our lives are different
In this darkness,
Because — your passionate seductions,
And your dark fate,

Because with you, my steep-browed demon
There’s no future,
And even if I burst above your grave,
You can’t be saved!

Because I’m trembling, because can it be true?
Is this a dream?
Because of the delightful irony
That you — are not a he.

—October 16, 1914


Beneath caresses of a soft plaid throw,
I summon yesterday . . . a dream?
What was it? Who’s the victor?
Who, the overthrown?

Rethinking all of it anew,
I’m tormenting myself again.
And that, for which I have no words,
Was . . . love? But can it . . . ?

Who was the hunter? Who—the prey?
Oh devil, all of it, it’s upside down!
And the Siberian cat,
What did he grasp amidst his drawling, purring sounds?

And in this battle of the wills,
Who ended up whose tool?
Whose heart was it, yours or mine,
That flew?

And yet, what was it?
What do I long for? What is it that I so regret?
I’m still uncertain, did I win?
Or was I had?

—October 23, 1914


Today melted today
I spent it standing at the window.
My gaze had sobered, my chest felt freer,
I was pacified again.

I don’t know why, it must be simply
That my soul had tired
But somehow,
I didn’t want to touch that pencil . . . it rebelled.

And so, I stood there — in the fog —
So far from any good or evil,
Drumming lightly with my finger
Against the softly ringing glass.

My soul no better, and no worse
Than any passerby — take that one.
Than those opaline puddles
Where the horizon splattered,

A soaring bird,
That unbothered dog running by,
Even the singing beggar
Didn’t draw tears from my eyes.

Oblivion, oh what a darling art,
The soul has long accustomed to it.
And some big feeling
Was melting in my soul today.

—October 24, 1914

Marina Tsvetaeva
Trans. Masha Udensiva-Brenner

To the Women

June 30, 2020

I love women — and love or a woman can be
gold tossed upon a pillow. Woman is my
necessary gold. Women’s bodies are dusted
with love and gold. I want to hear women’s
voices; the sound of smoke rubbing velvet.
Give me a woman’s hair for my fine, thick
blanket in the night. Breasts soft as
eider-down beneath the head; arms gripping
stronger than a drug. Women taste of melted
honey moving sweet within the comb. Woman
to woman, I tell you — Women are the beginning
and the end of love, and love is more than all.

Frankie Hucklenbroich

Sex Writing –

June 30, 2020

The changing room in Macy’s. A rest area bathroom. The hood of a sports car.

If there’s a chance to get caught, I’ve probably fucked there.

Like sex, writing is both public and private. Like an exhibitionist, a writer gets off in private by exposing her work to the public…Writers are natural pleasure seekers, hedonists. I don’t know of anything more satisfying than laying on the hood of a car, staring into the black night sky, and watching cold breath float slow from my lips like I’m lying at the bottom of the ocean, like the stars are shimmers of sun from the top side of waves. I love the ashy, flat taste of Cabernet a whole bottle in. I love the thoughtless, cliff-wobbling moment before an orgasm better than the orgasm itself. But this is not enough. A writer must push her pleasure into risk, expose herself publicly to strangers with no knowledge of how she might be received, and become something that must be seen. The best kind of writing lives at this intersection…

There are many ways to expose yourself, if willing. I find pleasure in sharing my sexual exploits with friends, just as I do writing about the experiences. “I’m a very physically needy person,” I always start. Then, after some perverse account over coffee, I stir my cup and shrug as if I’ve merely recited the weather forecast. This makes me feel powerful for a moment: because the stories are unforgettable, I feel that I have become unforgettable. Sometimes, I bring my friends’ shocked reactions to the bedroom and share them with my partners, if for nothing else than to extend the pleasure of being seen…

One summer, I dated a married woman whose husband agreed to her seeing other women. He was a nurse who sometimes worked night shifts, which is when I would sleep over. The morning I met him, I woke up on his side of the bed, rolled on top of his wife, and woke her up by going down on her. She was in the middle of a loud orgasm when we heard her husband unlock the front door. She finished as he knocked on the bedroom door, then I wiped my mouth on their sheets and dressed quickly. I left their bedroom and held out my hand for his.

“Nice to meet you,” I wanted to say. “I just fucked your wife.” Instead, I shook his hand and sat next to him at the breakfast bar while his wife made us pancakes.

Emily Smith
Radical Vulnerability: The Writer as Exhibitionist

A woman of forty enters the cluttered bedroom of a girl half her age. She begins to passionately caress the girl. Using her hand between the girl’s legs, she brings her near to orgasm – then slides away.

‘Don’t stop,’ the girl says. ‘Please don’t. I was so near -’

The older woman lays back on the bed, legs spread wide, and pulls the girl towards her.

‘If you want me to finish you,’ she said breathlessly. ‘You must be a good girl and eat me out first -’

We got naked, fast

June 27, 2020

Friday night, and I’m two hours, four cocktails and three intense kisses into my first-ever date with a woman. We stumble out of a tiny bar onto the street and look at each other. She puts her arm around my waist, pulls me into her, bites my bottom lip and whispers in my ear, “So, are you coming home with me?”

Ten seconds pass, then I kiss her in a way that says, “Hell, yes” – before hailing a cab and diving into the back seat. She gives the driver directions to her place, then pins me up against the window, smiles at me with her ridiculously beautiful face, and kisses me. Her hands are all over me and my breathing gets shallow – I’m half turned on, half terrified of meeting the driver’s eye in the rear-view mirror…by the time we stumbled through her front door, into her room and onto her bed, I surprised myself with how confident I felt with her.

We got naked, fast. She stopped to check I was OK, but I was more than OK – I was completely mesmerised. I couldn’t stop looking at her, touching her, kissing her everywhere. She pinned me down on her purple sheets and talked to me while she kissed her way down my chest, tummy and tops of my thighs. She went down on me and it felt amazing, like she really knew what she was doing. Then I flipped her over and did the same – being between her legs was fascinating and confusing.

Even though we had the same body parts, this was a totally different angle and I had no idea what to do. I tried to imitate what I knew felt good on me, and it was received pretty well. We played around with each other’s bodies for hours, then fell asleep tangled together.

Kate Leaver
I always wondered what it’d be like to sleep with a woman

that mass of pussy fur

June 26, 2020

My sweet darling … I do miss you darling one and I want to feel your soft cool face coming out of that mass of pussy fur like I did last night.

Rosamund Grosvenor
Letter to Vita Sackville-West, dated c. 1909.


[It is amusing to think that when Vita Sackville-West took up residence in Sissinghurst during 1932, her closest friends believed she had started to live a most chaste and celibate life with her homosexual husband and their two sons – when in fact for the next ten years she shared the tower with her lover, who was, of course, also her sister-in-law, Gwen St Levan.


But we shouldn’t be surprised by this. On Vita’s wedding day she had two bridesmaids, one of whom, Rosamund,  she was having an affair with at the time. The other, her new husband’s sister, she would have a long affair with 15 years later.


After the war, Vita, even in her 60s, could still amaze and seduce otherwise entirely heterosexual married women, perhaps because she seemed, as Virginia Woolf’s husband Leonard described her, ‘an animal at the height of its powers, a beautiful flower in full bloom’.]

When Pierre Louÿs published his famous literary hoax Les chansons de Bilitis (Songs of Bilitis) in 1895, he dedicated the pseudogrec volume of prose poems to “Girls of the Future Society.” Although they were original poems, or what he called “prose sonnets,” Louÿs presented his work as a scholarly translation of erotic songs composed by a contemporary of Sappho’s whose tomb was recently unearthed by a German archaeologist. Written in the voice of Bilitis, and prefaced by a “Life of Bilitis,” this collection of 158 poems is organized around the three main periods of her life: Bilitis’s childhood as a shepherdess in a little mountain village in Pamphylia (Southern Turkey), which she leaves after losing her innocence and having a child at age fifteen; a ten-year lesbian period spent on Sappho’s island in the company of her beloved Mnasidika; and lastly, a successful career as a courtesan on Cyprus where she retires before reaching her fortieth birthday. Despite the first-person feminine voice and the lesbian content of these titillating songs, the dedication Louÿs placed on his Chansons de Bilitis seems highly ironic since its intended audience was probably not women at all, but a select literary circle of men including Stéphane Mallarmé, André Gide, Jean de Tinan, Remy de Gourmont, and Henri de Régnier who told Louÿs that “Reading Bilitis threw me into erotic transports that I am going to satisfy at the expense of my lawful spouse.” Louÿs wrote to his brother Georges that as much as he would like to have a feminine audience for his work, it seemed unlikely given that “women have only the modesty of words,” and are overly concerned with appearing respectable.

Tama Lea Engelking
Pierre Louÿs, Natalie Barney, and “Girls of the Future Society”

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon’s eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force – feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb   disgraced   goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

Adrienne Rich

beautiful women

May 16, 2020

She had fallen in love with her, as she always did fall in love with beautiful women who had something strange about them.

Katherine Mansfield