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hey, you guys
in the cunning disguises!
can i join your masquerade?

a space
a place
a mysterious case of who are you?

oh no!
no lost again
but butterfly & moth
& a little bit of frost
to chill

oh, you guys
in the cunning disguises!
can i drink your lemonade?

a space
a place
a mysterious case of upstaged youth

no truth!
truth lost again
most moth & butterfly
& a little bit of rye
to drink

look, you guys
with your cunning disguises
you’ve lost
your case
for an endless empire

All the Ghosts We Never Leave Behind

picking off pieces of skin
as i go
on & on & on & on
smooth as a snake
warping & shifting
lifting my face from the floor

this is me
who i am
who i never was
who i will always be
cracking my voice
changing my shape
eating too much
dancing too little
on & on & on & on
a little bit of sad
a cup of frustration
a bag of hope
an ocean of tears

& the sun is too bright
& the mercury is too high
& the music is too quiet
& i’m much too happy
& i’m far too sad
& i’ll never lose these chains
as i go
on & on & on & on

cracking my bones
bursting my skin
changing my shape
again & again & again & again

Eskimo (Intuitive Kingdom Remix)

you walk on the edge of
the frozen abyss
in the back of the dead
i scribble to listen
while soldiers are bleeding glass
your spine, it’s a war, it’s a dance
you smile a note when you walk
& the burlesque of the mystery thickens
when you’re not an angel of the frozen abyss
you’re lost inside the glare of the moon

he’s doing an awkward dance in time
when your talk is enchanted by shadows of mist
i want you, me, & the enemy you created
when we watch your reflection
there’s blood on the floor & you say your scouts are the moon
you cut off even speaking your mind
the skin that stretches & turns to glass
is lost inside the glare of the spoon

in a call on to know how to weaken
your words, you fall, you all
good puzzles start to walk
& you smile when you dance on my hands
singing of how you created a window
the chill face in the twist of the back of love
if you change & punch & leap into shadows
all lost inside the glare of the spoon

in the mirror reflected a million times over
your face on the middle & born into truth
in like you threaten to chop off the edge
of the spark like you press your face in the snow
& the heart of my heart becomes curved like a spoon
i’ve seen all my hands i was thinking i wanted
to dance in a tomb & my eyes are so lost
so lost inside the glare of the moon (Continued)

Dancing in the Realm of a Green God

I park my car at the end of the ragged, gravel road and step out into the thick, warm night. I have come to tell the weather’s green wind how the invisible hand that grasps the deep rotten fruit of the heart will exploit it. The heart is pure when filled with daylight, but at this time of night, I need to shout my words into my veins. Words about how age blasts the roots of the hanging man. but how the meager words of my clay mouth suck at expressing what’s in my head. (Continued)

…And a Grand Dream This Is

The sun comes up on a humdrum town.

Professor Curl rises early to work on his calculations. He makes a pot of strong coffee and a couple of slices of buttered toast, taking everything into his office. The coffee pot and mug go in the one empty spot on his desk, while the plate of toast is balanced precariously on a stack of books. He grabs a marker, stares at the whiteboards spread around the room, and…he does nothing. He shakes his head, but he can’t focus his thoughts. He pulls a small flask from the pocket of his bathrobe and empties it into his coffee. After downing one cup of what he calls Cuban coffee, he’s able to shake off the ghosts of his childhood and throw himself into his world of numbers and calculations. Familial abuse is a hell of a thing. Drinking rum on the sly is a hell of a thing. Professor Curl knows he has something of a problem, but the drink fuels his work, and his work fuels his life, so he accepts his drinking as a devil he’s made a bargain with out of necessity. (Continued)

Women Writers and the Writers They Influence

Last week, old white male literary journalist Gay Talese (who, I must confess, I’ve never read anything by) attended a conference in Boston where he was asked by an audience member, old white female writer Verandah Porche (who, I must confess, I’ve never read anything by) (and despite the names, no, this isn’t a Thomas Pynchon story), what women writers he was influenced by. Talese said he couldn’t think of any.

In his defense, Talese grew up in a time that was pretty damn sexist, and he was apparently limiting his “writers of influence” to a very small corner of the writing world (literary journalism). But that defense is some weaksauce tea. Women writers aren’t some recent phenomenon, and if you’re only going to list your influences in a small pocket of a much larger field, you’re doing a disservice to your own writing and writers in general.

In response, John Scalzi posted an incomplete, off-the-top-of-his-head list of women writers who have influenced his writing. Some of the writers who have influenced me the most are women, so here’s my incomplete list, which includes fiction writers, poets, lyricists, and comedy writers (and doesn’t include the large number of women writers who I love but who don’t directly influence my own writing):

Erin Morgenstern
Catherynne M. Valente
Ursula K. LeGuin
Mary Shelley
Madeleine L’Engle
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
Gertrude Stein
Angela Carter
Tanith Lee
C.L. Moore
Jeanette Winterson
N.K. Jemisin
Jenny Lawson
Amy Poehler
Tina Fey
Kelly Link
Maggie Stiefvater
Charlie Jane Anders
Francesca Lia Block
Felicia Day
J.K. Rowling
Lisa Lutz
Diana Wynne Jones
Susanna Clarke
Elizabeth Fraser
Siouxsie Sioux

These writers have made my writing so much better. If you’re not reading diversely and stealing liberally, I think you’re writing is going to suck like boots in mud. I don’t want to read or write mud. I want writing that’s a sparkly, swirly rainbow.

And Gay? You’re never too old to get out of the mud, boyo.