This baby can fit so much queer yearning…

Occasionally, a story is best told through poetry.

That’s what I found in the case of this love story, which has been living in my head rent free for at least a decade. The particulars have shifted through the years, dreamtime details vanishing with the moon, but the substance is always the same: a self-proclaimed villain and a self-effacing hero meet in battle and fall for each other. The consequences ripple down the ages.

Love Songs for the Sun is for capital-R Romantics, people who can’t get enough enemies to lovers tropes, and anyone who has experienced an excess of queer yearning. It’s out on November 20th, and up for pre-order now.

Will you teach me to fly?
If I teach you how to dive
to unknown depths
where only madmen dare descend,
will you pull me in a spiral
toward some burning star?
Can we ruin each other
for mediocrity? 

If you’re interested in a free review copy of Love Songs for the Sun, you can sign up to join my review team here.

Demon Lover: Part Three

Part One Part Two

Trigger warnings for disordered eating, self-harm, abusive relationships.

The next night, Elise didn’t come home. Nor the night after that. I barely noticed the time slip by, but when she returned, she brought a man with her. 

She wasn’t the type to coddle living things. Most people like to have something living nearby ⁠— a plant, a fish, a cat, another human. I’d never seen another living being in her space. It was just her and me. 

Until him. 

He was chewing gum when he stepped across the threshold, his eyes following her as she vanished into the bathroom. He closed the front door gently, then stood in the pristine living room. 

Tabula rasa, meet tabula rasa. He was as well groomed as the apartment, concealing a bit of pudge and a mountain of uncertainty under a pressed and tailored shirt. 

“Elise, where’s your garbage?” he asked, his voice too loud for the space. 

He could barely understand her answer, but found the trash anyway, taking the gum from his mouth with his fingers, which he did not wash in the sink. 

Was this her someone to talk to? It didn’t seem so. She emerged from the bathroom in only knee high socks and a loose wool sweater. Nothing they said after that held any meaning. 

She didn’t let him take the sweater off her, although she allowed him to peel off the socks with a reverence most would reserve for church. He failed to please her, so she pleased herself, not bothering to hide what she was doing as he collapsed next to her. He left a few hours later, after they’d both fallen asleep. 

She did not invite him back. 

I waited. Seasons changed. She didn’t speak to me again, and gradually, I reintroduced my calling card: three long and inexplicable scratches on her arm. The new scratches, once again discovered in the shower, did not result in another one-sided conversation. When her fingers lingered over them, she smiled fondly, drawing on some memory I couldn’t reach. 

She left for a few days after that, packing a small overnight bag filled with lace dresses and long silk nightgowns. When she came back, it was with starry eyes and a chest full of vapid sighs. 

When I crept under her covers that night, ready to slash at her other arm, I found her body covered in long, thin marks. Someone had gotten there before me. 

I hovered centimeters over her skin, halfway to being offended. There was nothing to do but leave my own marks anyway, but it hardly seemed meaningful. I wasn’t even sure she’d notice three more marks on her pale, covered arms. 

For good measure, I ripped through her dress. Let her try to ignore that. 

Yet, she did, discarding the nightdress into her laundry without a second glance, humming in the shower, stroking the lines on her arms, legs, and stomach. Whoever her new paramour was, she had no space in her head for wondering about demons. 

That suited me perfectly, even if it meant I needed a new plan. 

Her absences lengthened with the sun’s reign. I would have followed her, given the opportunity, but without a vessel I moved as slowly as a glacier. She wasn’t ready yet, and if she kept ignoring me and absenting herself from her own living space, she never would be ready. I would exist only as a concept until some other poor fool moved in. 

She was too fond of my favorite kind of physicality. I needed to change my game. 

One night she came back weeping, mascara running down her face. I felt her emptiness from the moment she came in from the street: heartbreak, plain and simple. That was a memory I could touch. Unhappiness fell within my domain. 

I saw it all as it ran through her mind on repeat ⁠— her lady was leaving, called to work in a far away city. They’d only known each other for a few months, but Elise hoped, then begged to be taken away with her. To be worthy. 

This I could work with. Her intensity of feeling finally made her easy prey, and once she cried herself to sleep, I ripped into her dreams. I became her lady, a beady eyed, heavy set woman of no particular grace. Elice had only cared about how her lady covered her in praise, each strike accompanied by an ode to her uncertain beauty. Afterwards, her lady would hold Elise, glowing, and she would vanish into the soft pink cloud of warmth and safety. 

In the dream, I did all of this, just to snatch it away. 

“You’re too much to take with me,” I told her, shifting my hefty body to lean over her. “Don’t worry, pet. I’ll put you to sleep.” I put my forearm over her throat and bore down. As she began to choke, I showed her my truest face. 

She woke gasping, the memory of my form already vanishing, but the rest stuck like tar to her soul. Sleep didn’t find her again until dawn. 

Let no one convince you that human unhappiness is varied. After a few eons it all runs together like snow-melt to the sea. Hers was no different. She bundled her self-worth up in new dresses and old tears. The dreams I sent her barely made a dent in her nightmares, so plentiful were her naturally occurring fears. It seemed to her that her lady had lifted her from mediocrity. She would do anything to not descend again. 

Limes replaced the grapefruit in her fridge, accompanied by rare treats of melon. She soaked up the torments I sent her.

After a month, she disappeared. 

the honeyed river of summer

the honeyed river of summer
flows through my open window
as I drive home through Nisqually
dust in my eyes
and shadows on my tongue

I’ve been watching all the omens:
a pregnant fish split open
a flock of gulls headed to the mountains
I hear that raven finally stole the sun
now that everything else has already been stolen

lives, and land, and time, and tongues
all thrifted goods, lined up and categorized
on the side of an imperial road
where fast cars, overcrowded
force themselves slow

if you want to live in stolen times like these
you’d better have poetry writhing under your skin
it gives the human heart some mettle
it gives the mortal coil some context

The context that poetry brings is life giving, revolution birthing, hope reviving. I don’t know how I would have handled this ugly 4th of July without Langston Hughes’ words echoing in my head:

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

I’ve read that poem on every 4th of July for many years now. It’s the only answer I have to the saccharine propaganda of American history classes and the murderous, genocidal reality. Over and over, Hughes created a space to revel in that dream, refuse the attached lies, and demand a better world. Now, more than ever, we need that space.

May Day Message

Happy Beltane! Happy May Day!

This is my second favorite holiday, falling directly opposite of my favorite holiday, Halloween. The veil is thin, the sun is shining, and everything is growing. What a wonderful time to announce some changes. Last night, for Walpurgisnacht, I tried my hand at broomstick making, then jumped on our backyard trampoline holding said broom. That counts as a witch’s flight, right?

I’ve been silent for a while, resting, working, and meditating on projects. I started out April planning to record a poem for every day of the month. Once I recovered from illness enough to head back to my day job, I didn’t have the energy to to do all that, but my channel is still active, and I’ll continue slowly filling it with poetry. I’ve had some wonderful feedback and encouragement on my readings from Mary, Marnie, and others. Thank you so much.

I’m continuing work on Witch/Pilgrim/Heretic, my poetry book partly compiled during my Camino de Santiago journey. I’m determined to make it available by the end of May, at the latest. If you’d like to know when it’s ready, you can sign up for my mailing list and also get a free copy of Between Death and the Devil, my book of tarot poetry.

Side note: I’m glad I learned that Geminis are notoriously flighty, because it gives me an excuse for starting dozens of projects at once. Since quarantine started, I’ve been feeling the call to get back into zine making, especially since I’m having a great time collecting witchcraft related zines from other writers. As such, I’m reopening my Etsy shop. Soon it will be full of signed copies of my books, my zines, and probably some witchy art as well, so be sure to follow.

Finally, most of my books are currently on sale or free on Kindle, and will be until May 5th or 6th, depending. Check them out on my author site on Amazon.

With that, I’m off to build a new vegetable bed. Happy Beltane. I hope you get a chance to soak in nature, support a strike, and play with flame today.

Portrait for Lady Agnew of Lochnaw

Shape me.
Chisel me up some accomplishments.
Don’t erase this mind with those smooth Sargent strokes
trading a life for an eternal raised eyebrow
replacing a well-woven history
with a few lines about beauty. 

Don’t neglect the indents in my flesh —
the armchair grasped too tightly
reupholstered in silk and nervous twitches.
Carve my jaw hard like I grind it at night
but whittle whales into the bone

Remind me
what’s soft in a body
can also be strong
can also be buoyant

K. D. Hume

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, John Singer Sargent, 1892. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

I came upon this portrait during a birthday trip to San Francisco. It was part of a traveling exhibition that I entered on a whim, the weather outside leaving much to be desired. I’d seen the painting online before, might have even read a book or two that used it for cover art. But in that gallery, on that day? I fell in love. I’d never seen an aristocratic woman given this kind of agency in a formal portrait. This much personality.

What a force to be reckoned with, I thought. And I had to know more.

So, I researched her, and I researched Sargent, standing there in front of the painting in a crowded gallery. My respect for both the painter and the subject grew, and I wrote this poem. Years later, I’m still just as captivated as the day we met.