Word from Blood Pudding Press

I am too sad for sadness. Grief is too small a 
word. I need something with heft, something multi-
syllabic and synesthetic, some word which could be a 
paperweight on the pages of this long story.

I need it to have the bittersweet aftertaste of red 
wine on my lips and tongue and the barefoot echo 
of dancing in the living room. I need it to smell like the 
kitchen floor at 2 am and to leave my hands with the 
feeling of the pages of a book with beautiful 
verbs. I need this word to be the rabbits, dead 
in your yard; I need this word to be that noose 
hanging around the rafters of your immaculate garage. 

I need a word, something guttural, Germanic and 
long, a word you need a phonetic guide to pronounce 
and even then, not be sure you've said it just right. I 
need a word with a complex etymology, a word which 
only linguists and word nerds would know. I need a 
word appearing in the Sunday Times crossword, stumping 
all but a few.

I need a word which means the way we clicked; I need a word 
which explains the emptiness that a lover cannot fill; I need a
word in a language written in late night interchange – uncanny,
uncomfortable, unforgiving and rotund with love. 

How I Became an Atheist and a Writer


I am a storyteller
It’s just what I do
I tell tales here in 
The hall, I spin yarns.
Fiction, fact, fantasy 
Merge – I once told a 
Husband that Fact devoid of Fiction
Was boring – and it is.

When I was seven I told
The story of how my family
Almost fell off a cliff in a Jeep
In Egypt while the enemy chased us. 

It wasn’t really a lie. 
We were in Egypt. 
We were in a Jeep. 
Cairo in 1976 had cliff-like 
Potholes that
My mother said looked like
The Grand Canyon. 
It was fact. Embellished. 

That was in catechism class
And I was chastised and told
To ask forgiveness from God and Jesus. 
I started to pray but it turned into
The story of how I saved all the children
From a burning church in Birmingham. Singlehandedly. 

My mother patiently told them
I wasn’t a heretic but that I had a good 
Imagination. (Are these things counter posed?)
But in the white station wagon on the way home she 
Said, while driving from Hicksville
Down Haypath road to our house
Maybe I should write these things down
And stick to the boring facts in Catechism 
Like a man rising from the dead
Or the Virgin birth or Moses parting the Red Sea
And that God and Jesus were Father and Son but still the same guy
That incest was bad but Adam and Eve were the first man and woman
And I wasn’t supposed to ask where their sons got wives
That God flooded the earth and put all the animals, two by two
On a really big boat – and it wasn’t even Monsoon season
I figured that these things were about
As likely as my own heroics
Some sort of truth – embellished – 
Some sort of lie – for fun.  

Bi from Blood Pudding Press


I wear bifocal lenses with which to see 
As I walk, bipedally: Me up close and  
You far away;  
I am bisexual – loving boys and girls is twice  
The fun and I am 
Bipolar so I get to do it birhythmically. 
My heart is said to have four valves, but I don’t buy that 
It is bivalvular, bifurcated between You and Him 
Or Me and Them or Us and Us and sometimes Me and Me but often You and You; 
Our lives are bisymmetrical – we meet at right angles and then part 
On our bicycles for our bicoastal friendship 
(Or whatever we’re calling this bizarre singularity). 
My brain is bisected into blazing hemispheres of  
Lucidity and sense residing 
Where splendor and make-believe refuse 
To tread – it would be easier if I was bicorporal – 
All this is a bit much for one uncanny head.  


Oh, Virginia from Subterranean Blues Anthology

Oh, Virginia, if only I could have been there, that day in March, a mermaid in the Ouse River to gently take the rocks you put in your pockets, to let them fall to the silty river floor.

Oh, Virginia, let me put my lips softly to your ears, to remind you that it passes; it always passes. Rise with me, Virginia, from the depths of this disconsolate river.

Oh Virginia, let me be your Vita, and put my lips so softly to your lips and breathe in life. Let us leave this river of death, let us leave this place of consternation, let us sleep a good long sleep and wake, remembering that it passes. It always passes.

Oh Virginia, you know the hills and valleys of this life are higher and lower for us than for most. We are twins out of time – our mothers died when we were children on the precipice of becoming women; our fathers were charming, brutal, mercurial, interesting men; life left lasting specters, haunting us in the depths of our lows.

Oh, Virginia, you were in the bed of a valley, the shadow of death upon you, obscuring the hills ahead. The valley always passes, Virginia, no matter the depth, it always passes. Come from the unkind river into my warm arms, let me unpin your hair and dry you, and we will weather the darkness together and in the new day we will write lies embedded with the truth of the endless night.

Oh, Virginia, it seems unfair that we should have to endure after what we have endured. Let me be your living mother; let me be your gentle father; let me be a plateau for just a while. I have stood where you have stood, at the abyss, and I have tried to fall and I was caught; if only I could have caught you, a mermaid to take those hard, jagged rocks from your pockets.



7A from Circa

That small place with the sidewalk seating on the corner of

Seventh Street and Avenue A

A cool neighborhood place in a cool neighborhood

That we did not live in

Even in the eighties, 7A boasted the best tattooed ladies around


In my teenage rebelliousness I’d go with him

Embarrassed by his ogling the scantily clad

Heavily tattooed and severely pierced

Waitresses, their arms and backs and bellies a dazzling confusion of colors, who

Took our orders and pretended not to recoil from Daddy,

My tattooed Santa Claus-like father and his lust-struck face

But it was a free meal for me and I’d moved away

Not So Sweet Sixteen

And I thought I had a few free meals coming


Later, pregnant with my first baby, more indulgent of Daddy

In my gravid state, I smiled with amusement,

Patting the basketball under my blouse

The waitresses somehow a greater cavalcade of color than ever which was odd as it was

Still prohibited in New York. Daddy, thinner, older, more scarred with less hair and a

Shorter white beard, less Santa-like, but still ogling, perhaps more openly

            And it was still a free meal and we were both making

            Just six bucks an hour and my husband loved my father

            And I guessed I did too, despite it all.


Then his birthday, sixty-nine, the diagnosis had come

Lung Cancer and he was afraid, afraid to die

Because he loved life and ladies tattooed with dragons and flowers and pithy quotes                                                                           and he feared a hell devoid of them

And the waitresses with their illicit tattoos entwining their lithe young bodies

Treated him similarly to my two toddlers, with gentle delight and

Compassion, because that’s what we do with the very young and those who are about to die

            And it was a free meal, again, all of us sitting outside, but

            I made the cake since Daddy wanted it that way

            And we sang happy birthday, fear and longing and love in every note


My sister and brother and I took different spouses and the

Same children plus some to 7A for Fathers’ Day

We, the fatherless, toasting in Bloody Marys and mimosas

The man who had ogled the waitresses, in their now lawful, vibrant tattoos,

Who were brisk in the way of New York City waitresses in a tiny neighborhood

Restaurant on the corner with a party of twelve, with five Shirley Temples

            And we paid for the meal, we three, divvying it up

            And we tried to honestly remember him, now dead some years,

            And we tipped the half-naked waitress, more than we should, for Daddy.



Sophistry? from Circa

Your head yawned slightly to the right

and you looked right at me, raising an eyebrow,

half a smile on your full lips, a secret discourse passed  –

we were laughing at the absurdity of something,

what it was doesn’t matter – and

I was wholly possessed. I

wasn’t in love or in lust,

although both love and lust played their

parts. I wanted to know you, to

absorb you, to observe every

molecule of your being. I wanted to

dissect you, atom by atom, inspect all that you are and

were and

will be –

especially what you will be since the

future is often better.


I long for Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth

So I can know your enigmatic mind.


Then you looked at me, over and over (or was I imagining it?);

Dissecting me too; some science experiment

done in the least scientific way feasible.

Macro-biology, more naked than stripped bare, a link joining us,

soboliferous, a biome created for just us two,

broken and then reformed over and over,

shattering with each glance and renewed

at the crux, only to demolish again.

Perhaps it is hubris to think this link is

synergistic, the result of some sophistry


stemming from some nameless yearning.

To The Girls in The Bathroom at TGIF from Circa

Overheard by me

While on the toilet

Not so long ago:


Did you see that totally fat lady next to us? I mean,

Oh.       My.      Gawd.


She had a sort of pretty face, the second one says.


Yeah but, if I looked like that

I’d just fucking die. Die, the first repeats so the second one understands her sincerity.


I hear zippers unzipping, preparing to primp

And I realize they are talking about me;

I recognize the shrillness of their voices from

The gaggle of girls seated across from us.


The first adds: and then she got her food, like, on her boobs. Gross.


I contemplate speaking from my seated position

I want to say: I am twice your age.

In the forty years I’ve been on this earth this body you malign

Has done more than most in a whole lifetime.


This body has lived in four different countries on three different continents

This body has swum in the Nile River and rowed through the labyrinthine canals of Laden and Venice

This body has seen the aurora borealis and stood next to Geyser from which all other geysers are named


This body has protested wars and defended women walking into clinics

This body has stood on the Mall screaming its lungs out, refusing to not be heard.

This body has gone up to strangers and defended militancy and Marxist ideals


This body has read thousands of books and taught hundreds of students

This body has had to overcome dyslexia, bipolar disorder, malaria, neurologic Lyme disease and

This body was raised by parents who neglected her when they didn’t abuse her and still


This body has two BAs and one MA and will get her MFA shortly because

This body doesn’t make excuses when it is in pain or confused because

This body knows the only way out is through.



This body has lost its mother and father, four siblings, two grandmothers, and countless more

This body has born three gargantuan children

This body raised them through divorce, disease, and death


This body has lost and gained hundreds of pounds, prettiness-of-face notwithstanding.

This body does nothing without passion

This body has been beaten, broken, burned, and bullied again and again




This body has been loved

By me, by many others


I am done. They are still primping. Their bottoms proclaim their juiciness in a pink and orange explosion.

Their eyes widen as I walk up next to them in this small two sink bathroom.

While I wash my hands and dab at the sauce on my shirt

I smile at the girls who try to avoid making eye contact,

Deciding what I could possibly say to these justbarely women



“Sweetie,” I whisper to the first one, “you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe.”

Back The Way I Came from Sun and Sand Anthology

If we got to choose

The manner of our deaths – rather than

The fatality of our fellow man

I would go into the water,

back the way I came


I love the water and its buoyancy,

I love the sensation of being submerged

The silky feel of water on skin – perhaps I am less evolved than others

Perhaps I’m still part fish – a not-so-little mermaid,

Loath to slay her love so


I would choose to go to slip off my rock to

The bottom of some clear secluded pool

On a warm sunlit day,

The water’s not quite blood warm

My naked body would sink to the sands beneath, I would

Turn into the sea foam and kiss mankind goodbye,

A frothy embrace and go

Back the way I came.


My atoms will disperse through the water,

Stardust to stardust, fish will come and nuzzle off my humanity

I have no need of it any longer

Freed from the prison of existence


I will go back the way I came,

My choice this time

Cradled in the warmth of the fluid from which I came

Giving back the cities and forests of man

Forming my passage from being back to nonbeing,


Just the way I came.  

Intertidal Zone from Sun and Sand Anthology

Five years old and

Left, as always, to my own devices, I

Waded into the Atlantic and started

Splashing aimlessly in the surf


We lived a ten minute drive from Jones Beach, but

My mother, frightened of the water,

Was more likely to take us to the familiar Town

Pool, with clear waters and reclining chairs


The complexities of ocean swimming were

Antithetical to my understanding; I thought of the Town

Pool and how I could dive in and swim the

Length underwater, wiggling my arms and

Legs behind me, mermaid-like.


The ocean was unaware of my inexperience

And indifferent to my impetuosity or my fragile mortality.

I saw the Atlantic Ocean as the Town

Pool writ large with the

Added excitement of magnificent seashells

And the silky dirt of sand waiting to be formed

Into castles replete with moats and damsels in distress.


In the surf, I found a speckled shell in a swirl of

Browns and purples. It fit perfectly in my

Hand, so I examined it in the sunlight,

Peering into the purpling fold when the ocean

Snapped up and swept it away from me.


Furious, I dove after it, not knowing the

Dangers of the intertidal zone where the

Undertow has the force of a Mack truck

And the mindlessness of an asteroid


I was dragged for what seemed to be

Miles, the gritty floor of the ocean like sandpaper

On my skin, my nose filling with the thick Salt

Water. All I could see was a black swirl and I

Wondered fleetingly if this was

What Outer Space felt like?


Sure that I was dying and curious too

I gave up, and allowed myself to be

Taken when the sea spit me out, a

Rejected lover.



Open Fire from Pyrokinection


I first noticed his ears

Which were too large for his head

And seemed to hear whispers



His hair was trimmed closely around

These olive ears, olive skin

So unpale against my freckled blueness

Dark where I am light


I get these passing fancies  

Obsessed with dusky collarbones

My mind going somewhere




Into some experimental fire


My carnal world is a rich inferno

Embroiling my bare skin

Setting alight my sugary heart, an

Erotic crème brulee


My own world is in conflict with the world without

My lascivious nature is what the psalms warn men of

Women like me have always cause consternation

Chastised for salaciousness –

Edicts are made about women like me

I will not be possessed;

Absolutely feline in nature, no one can discern my name

Only my lover knows how to entice me back home,

Both content with my humors,

My desire to be petted and then left alone.


So call me what you will as I take in the oliveman

Take him in as I please –

My body is my own;

My lover knows my mind and loves


The fullness of my flame.

Letter from the Editors from Pyrokinection


Dear Ms. ___________________

Thank you for your story.

We aren’t saying that it sucks

We are just saying that it doesn’t fit with our vision.

At this time.

We know spent hours on this story.

It’s obvious that you craft your stories well.

But George didn’t like the father, and we think it may be that he has

Daddy issues himself, but we won’t say that,

And Rachel thought you needed more scenes

With less dialogue and more description of the

Hospital room because we just couldn’t see it, you know?

When you say that the tubing hung around him like slithering snakes ready to strike

Are you implying that the juxtaposition of the snake to his head was like the birth of Christ?

Because we didn’t see that.

Please send us your work again,

Please use our online submission machine

Please don’t worry if you don’t hear from us for a year

There’re only us and two grad students here.

Yours truly,


The Editors