Sunday, August 31, 2014


If, for you, "school" was imprisonment with a bunch of toxic control freaks who wasted your time and tried to ruin your life, this is for you.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Serpentine Coil, 19

Just under the blaring heat the snake soaked cool quiet.  The desert had been still as stone all morning so she had stretched long and longer for a long lazy time on her way under the sandstone, her vertebrae thrumming one by one from her spine in perfect tune and time like scales on a concertina, the music of her bones singing back through her muscles and guts, making her scales shiver.

She was peaceful under the rock but slept only as every hunter sleeps, half her brain scouting.  She put out her tongue in a dream, tasting hot sand and rabbit scat, baking sage. 

Then, smoke.

She drew down tight in the shadow of the rock, scales sliding one under another, bones folding in her flesh.  Her intestines contracted, released waste, then contracted tighter.  Her pupils expanded.  Her tongue went searching, over and over, slipping out and up, out and down, for more.

She waited. 

Then, the uneven pounding. Not so many of them today.

''Careful, Mom,"

"Well, I want to walk in back of you.  So if a snake comes you can yell or push me out of the way,"

"Mom, I've never seen one in fifteen years of hiking out here,"

Then another voice, deeper.  The one the snake knew well.  Sometimes other voices called him "The Indian guide".  Some said "Miguel".

"We got snakes out here.  Lotta snakes," said Miguel.

"But-well, my Mom is scared of snakes, so-"

The pounding came to a stop.

"Well," Miguel said, "You better come up one in line, then.  You don't wanna be third,"

"Why not?"

"See, I'm the guide.  So I'm first.  The first person wakes the snake up,"

There was a brief silence.

"Then the second person pisses the snake off,"

"Oh, my God,"

"Mom," this voice was laughting, "He's just trying to-"

"Then the third person gets bit,"   Miguel was near.  His feet shifted, grinding in the sand as he looked back and down.  The snake watched his eyes dancing over the stones around her.  She put out her tongue, tasting the brain-tanned leather of his boots, his stinging soap, the tang of his blood sugar.

"But, it's pretty rare out here.  I mean, when was the last time-"

"See these hiking boots?  That's why we wear tall boots," said Miguel.

"Should we go back?"

"We're almost to the Eagle's Nest, Mom,"

Miguel's eyes found the snake's.  He blinked slowly, licked his lips.  He breathed out.


The snake put out her tongue.  Coffee, aspirin, tobacco.


They went on.

The snake loosened her coil and slept, but only as a hunter does.

This is a flash fiction piece inspired by a prompt from one of my writing gurus, Chuck Windig.  Here's that link.  I was also inspired to choose the number 19 from my horror gurus, Drew Daywalt and Joss Whedon.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Magic Five Syllables

Reciprocation is a long word.

It's an under-practiced human virtue, too.

When someone lets you through in traffic and you wave thank you, when a friend calls to check on you when you're having a rough night and you make sure to find out how she is as well, when you return communications within a day or two, when you're on time, when you say thank you in return for a thank you, that's reciprocation.  It's magic.

Reciprocation is magic because it closes the loop.  When someone reaches out, you reach back.  The circle is drawn. Connections build new worlds, molecules, strength, sound waves, community, light, hope, DNA strands, words, sentences, meaning, safety, honor, healing.  Connections are the Legos of the living universe.

The circle is not created when a gift is not met with appreciation, when a kindness is not returned, when questions float in the ether unanswered.  These are mere reaching tendrils of potential that never find support.  

So many people float unsupported and unanswered, longing for connection.

Reciprocation is the magic trick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love in the Crisper

A writer who has a great female character brutally raped and then gives her no healing time on screen and no resource for that healing has tossed her in the crisper and left her there to rot like a 2-month-old cucumber.  Rape poisons relationships too and that character's relationship will follow, just like the 2-month-old tomato melting next to the cucumber.

Fridging a great romance throws the relationship dynamic into the shit storm that careens around the trauma of a rape, because the healing work has not been done.  Under this kind of narrative neglect the whole thing falls into chaos.  The center cannot hold unless you restore the center.

Then the romance itself becomes a twisted, rotting thing. 

The thrill that used to come from courage and tenderness of a great romance now is marked by the danger of a new sensationalistic thrill, for those who are not survivors of rape.  The "nail that has never seen the hammer" thinks the hammer is exciting and thinks itself unsmashable.  

A writer using rape as a shock device is counting on that double whammy: on the thrill aroused by fear, and then the righteous high of denial.

Fear and denial are the ingredients of rape culture.  We want to believe that we live in a just world and that we will never be victimized, meaning that victims must be at fault for their own horrors.  Stamping the fault for rape on the victim keeps us safe, because we will never screw up like they did.  We're in love enough with this denial to allow rape victims to be subjected to that attitude in our courts.  That's how rape culture is sustained.  

But rape culture is created over and over again in the public mind by writers, producers and media professionals who make a cheap device out of it.

Meanwhile, for survivors, the romance becomes permanently tainted by echoes of their own trauma and the injuries that never completely heal.

Now, the cheap thrill has left a deep scar in the subtext of a great romance. There is no way around it; you have to write the way through the trauma and darkness and back into the light of a functioning relationship.  If you don't make the journey to emerge, the shadow  taints everything.

Sick.  Chilled.  Twisted. 

Decaying in the dark. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Only Sticks and Stones

On KHOW this morning Mandy said that if anyone's words cause you pain, "That's on you,"

Sticks and stones, blahdy blah.

The "just words" myth will never die because the human brain requires it at a certain stage of development in order to cope with the knowledge that you will get hurt. It seems empowering to declare yourself above verbal injury, but that comes at too great a cost for most people. For healthy people, human vulnerability is worth it.

The myth of "sticks and stones", the idea that nobody's words can ever hurt you, is a denial of humanity.  Words have power with human beings and words can hurt human beings.  There's no such thing as a one-sided coin.  If no one's words can hurt you, then how can a poet move you?

What an intoxicating ideal, a demigod ideal.  Imagine walking through life like that - never injured by anything that you've decided won't hurt you.  When a loved one is cruel, it rolls right off.  When trolls photo shop your father's dead body being raped by animals and put obscene captions to it, it doesn't phase you at all.  Human cruelty in the form of mere communication doesn't touch your soul.

There are such demigods, who look upon verbal cruelty as a poor excuse to "whine", who can brush off cruelty, who blame the injured for being injured.

Bullies, narcissists and sociopaths.  They don't see pain as valid unless they see bruises. 

And they've got a bit of wisdom for you: your pain is "On you".