- Vol. 01
- Chapter 03
She says: ‘I am Artemis, goddess of the hunt.’
Barefoot hunting bears. Checked shirt, chocked barrel. Her feet are in the daylight and her face is in the midnight shadow, because she is day and night at once, she is the moon struck by sunlight. You can’t see her face, because the face is how we ground out empathy, the connection we make with others, and the huntswoman must be pitiless to do her job properly.
She says: ‘I am Artemis, who loves the silent woods in the mountain’s shadow’. Naturally, she is wearing earrings (Greek, artem, ‘to dangle’, ‘earring’). Of course her first name is Diana. Fairy tales delight her; their chill, their ingenuity, the way they are always burgeoning with swift violence.
Silence, and the low sustained cello-note of an overhead plane, and silence again. The sky is made out of silence. The leaves do not rustle. It is a cold springtime, not yet cleared of snow. Fish shiver in the stream, tremble and are gone. Tadpoles cluster like whole notes escaped from their staves.
She is unshouldering the rifle. She aims through the trees. This deer has breathed all the air it will ever breathe. When she strikes, it will throw all the birds into the air.
She says: ‘I am cut in half like the moon; but like the moon I grow whole again.’
Read more >
Duty is so well kempt. By def replete
With self-effacing malcontent:
The collar pinched, the brogues patent,
The shirt Gingham check double pleat.
The handshake is modest, blithe and slack,
With a grave wide grin, that gives no hint
To the vast dark tenement
Of vengeance beneath. This modest & meek
Facade are two barrels stocked full of hate,
Flaming reckless against the buttoned tide
Like some vast existential V-sign.
It cocks and shoots and breaks and spits
Spent shells on neat piles of ambivalent need.
Remove the face to see the void behind.
-It was always thus, woman.-
‘You shoot like a woman. Cold, calculated, between the eyes.’
She liked his thinking. It was nonsense of course. But it was so much easier to start from there and then convince him otherwise - that she was tender and maternal instead. Here, in the wilderness, there was nothing of the social order to protect them. Only their own thoughts and stereotypes; the ones they dragged through the mud.
Some nights she dreams. There are hairpins down the drain. Women’s losses. No one has time to unravel truths.
She wakes up, tears in her eyes. She whispers, ‘You are the reason why I don’t know what to do with my hands. In the darkness my fingers still reach for yours’. Instead, she reaches for the gun.
I have the gun. I rule here.
There was no makeup in her belongings, nothing could set her apart from the rest so she had to make do with what nature provided her with. Parading around with feathers, once belonged to a bird she had to strangle with her own hands. ‘When I return, I will become a vegan’, she thought. But for now this had to do. She put earth colours on her face, pinched her cheeks and bit her lips for colour, old tales she had read in books, before women had rouge imported from Paris.Read more >
Masked in nylon rags
Pixellated in human mosaic
In synthetic chorus
As we have crashed her party.
Armed her with pictures and ideas,
Fearing painted devils
As if we were the craftsmen,
As if we are
Capable of escape,
Out for Attention,
The kaleidoscopic barrel -
Oblivion without the cross fire.
Don’t look her in the eyes
As her lumbering gait
Peels over the foliage,
Catches in our perfumed breath,
Rustling our skin in secrets
We can no longer hear.
My sister? Man, she's a calamity... Impossible. I mean, I love her, I love her too much even, but she's wild. As a child, when she had her hair short, you couldn't tell she was a girl. When my dad decided he had to make a man out of me, he put me in a rugby team; she said she wanted to play too. There was this guy, everyone was afraid of him, we used to call him “Monti”, mountain, a huge fellow. I'm not sure what it was, I think he teased her about not having any breasts. She used to hide them mind you, with a piece of cloth she'd fix around her chest to make it look all flat. Nobody knows what she said to him that day, but that poor old bugger came back sobbing, a sorry sight. I only remember her shouting in his direction: “And next time you sneak into the girls' showers, I'll hunt you down!”
Last spring, we went free camping. She went ahead of me, three days in advance. She was travelling alone and arrived very late on the island. She had this heavy backpack on, and walked two hours in the middle of the night to find a beach and pitch a tent. By the time I got there, she had already regressed back to a primal state of being, I kid you not. Her hair was like an owl's nest. She spent hours in the lush and came back with creatures that she fed me with. Being a tomboy is fine, but, man, she's turned thirty! At least she looks like a girl now, she wears dresses sometimes. But even so, even when she puts them on, she goes for explorations and gets all dirty and rowdy again.
Read more >
She has taken to loading the rifle before going on stage. She ditched the replica weeks ago, walked into a gun store with sunglasses on and hair under a baseball cap.
The gun hasn’t gone off yet during the tour, but the delicious possibility is enough to get her through the two-hour show.
She used to be a folk singer, pouring her heart into the words, winding them round intricate melodies. After years of isolation in her bedroom, she emerged into the world with a clutch of songs that were starting to explain who she was.
The record company man had fallen in love with them, championing the songs all the way to the boardroom. She was on the road before the ink had dried.
The sales grew larger and the venues cavernous. Why not try on these clothes, said the record company.
I don’t like them, she said. It’s not me.
Go on, just try them on. And we want to turn your hair orange-red and style it like this. You know, like flames.
Don’t be ridiculous, she said.
We’ve spent a lot of money on this. On you. Go on.
No.Read more >
Lights-out, he lies awake in his head’s glow.
Three hundred acres, one hired hand –
and all the lanes out constrict to a bridle path,
then a footpath, then a fox trail,
then ripe, unparting rape or corn
as far as his lovelorn eyes can see.
Memories this narrow life makes a stranger’s:
the last time sun-up had been day’s end;
the last time he wore a tux;
the last time he kissed a girl.
As she held his face,
he vowed into her wrists he’d plot his own course.
But the pilot stars were Chinese lanterns
lying charred by morning.
His head is a buoy light
roiling in the Atlantic of his corn.
The yellowhammers glow in the ash tree
shading the grain shed:
a shot to the head would see it all burn.
Keeper of the perigee moon,
the woman with no eyes stands
rake-straight beneath the meteor shower,
flattening her naked feet
on the landing site of an Apollo mission.
Whisks of her hair blaze in defiance of the Sun
and below, the Earth floats, blanketed in blue.
Through glows and light rays she waits
for higher tides and dreams of lunar living to swell.
was born in the winter
of the eternal Spring
surrounded by flowers of every color
and swimming pools
On Sundays we would go to the market
to buy corn dough and grapes
that I would later eat
by the swing
with my best friend
The market smells like coriander and yellow fruit
like Cempazuchitl flower in the day of the Dead
I grew up here
I walked to the school
with my sister
and three dogs
the dogs would go back home
I cried here my first death
a traffic accident
in the old north highway
I was here when I heard
that my aunt was shot
in the heart
Warlike in the glare of noonday,
In such days time will recall,
From the ranks of oppressed masses,
From the house where women serve,
Rose a mighty warrior leader –
Chinebaba, reformer, woman,
She of fearsome reputation.
From her foe bold Chinebaba
Plucked a fiery, blood-red feather,
Scalped his corpse, and then exulting
Bound it to her head with webbing,
Made herself a Chieftan’s headdress -
Wore it proudly all her days.
dark shadow swagger
is all you are, with that gun
and that rolled-up attitude.
You could be anyone, textbook terror
when you touch me safe
on the wrong side of the sun.
Obscure as a dirty alcove
and long, silken things dangling
in the small space between-
-leave with your bullets,
empty threats and hot breath.
My skin bunches like tight gooseflesh,
but I am no pheasant flushed.
Has Cinderella exchanged her broom for a gun?
Dunked her face in the fire
for the ultimate effect?
Do the seared-on horn handles
suggest a ferocity
that the softness of the feather flames denies?
Though the hand on hip could threaten or amuse,
bare feet standing firmly on the ground
anchor her soul intent
and there will be no time for a double-take
when the true-white ligature
releases her to unexpected flight.
I am confused and far from home
working hard to be noticed
but not seen.
Flaunting my womanhood
Tell me father, how do I
bear this gun.
Not a valentine
Not a musketeer
Not a tooth fairy
A man centre of stage
A combatant at ease
Not a self portrait
Not a pen picture
Not the butt of a joke
A reasonable camouflage
Clean feet, clean hands
Not a bull in a China shop
Not a flash in the pan
Not the moment too soon
The horns of a dilemma
The remnants of flight
Rick had a history of violence.
He had beaten his partner before
and he came back to beat her again.
The night he died
he broke into her flat
and telling her
he would kill her
he cut the phone.
(For every woman in the US who uses a gun in self defence, 83 others are murdered)
Lost face, lost track, bare foot
glaring through a hole.
It was the beast and its wound
that have brought me here.
who I am now; what I've become
I disguise in my stance and it contradicts
my woes. The heart of a hunter
alone with no forest to forage through
Remains of wilder flames pass me by
along with the birds that no longer fly
above my head. I seek nothing now
that I've wounded the last
of this wilderness.
So I am having a bad hair day.
Get over it, my attitude got
in the way and my pesky shooter
backfired and my hair flew
into the wind of my persona
bulls eye – Annie get your gun
and Oakley stay out of my way.
Life is the pits sometimes
but a girls gotta do what
a girls gotta do.
My hair straighteners blew
up with a power surge
and landed me with this.
A black singed face and
a dark mood to match.
But hey don’t I look a
real dude in my fancy clothes.
Cowgirl in this year’s checks
Check it out or disappear
from my space – wise move.
Just taking a break ya hear?
I swagger like me Da
Hand on hip, rifle upended
Mind still ablaze with the hunt.
Me Demon face and horns.
I show no mercy.
When June Black decided to mask her face and dress herself in the guise of an American huntsman, it is possible she had a presentiment of the resulting confusion, anger and grief that would later engulf the small Colorado town where she lived. Three days were enough for murmurs of speculation and a palpable sense of disquiet to descend on the public streets, and when the bodies, ‘scalped’ and rotting, each decorated with a few poorly-aimed bullet-wounds, were found bound together in a makeshift sweat-lodge deep in the forest, those worried whispers had by then turned into frenzied alarm. Six local men were known to have disappeared, all of whom had ventured out within the first two days, some of whom perhaps despite their wives’ anxious pleas. It is very likely that further lives were spared as the result of prevailing female instinct, possible that these fortunate men hugged their partners more tightly the night their dead neighbours were found. ‘The perverse nature of this altogether morbid ritual is difficult to comprehend’, began the town’s mayor, before offering platitudes to the dead men’s families and resigning to rhetoric in the face of such incomprehensibility.Read more >
So ah thought ah'd head doon Princes Street
blendin in wi the buskers an the pipes.
I'd brought ma see-you-Jimmy hat:
upcycled likes, re-styled.
'Plaid's actually not tartan.' So?
Like ah gie a fuck as ah stride.
Scatter tourist throngs like bowling pins
as ah dart, as ah swagger, as ah glide
to the Caley, where in room 6 - 9
he's up to his een in her arse.
Seemed a fitting end, for a cowboy prick,
syonara-d by his ain shotgun's blast.
I draw a mirror
All the atoms are assembled
To make a symmetric world
My left is your right
And then the parallel lines touch
To become curves
In the invisible space of light
There is never an end of knowing
At the navel, at the heart
And at the summit
As it holds the symmetry
Within the asymmetric art
I pick up the pieces of squares
Orange and red and shaded
While my steps are curved out of an angle of a march
To draw a blue rebel of line
Of my own spherical prison
That bird of airy wings
Look. This mask I wear
has horns, flames
feathers, but no mouth.
This dumb animal
trails a slack leash.
(And anyway, the rifle's broken.)
Poor bare hands
and tender feet
my naked truth.
She looked for her mother's old hunting weapon. The gun merely for self-defense, she told herself. Violence would be beneath her, she said. But hunting came naturally to her; her mother was a top class huntswoman. She forced it away, claiming vehemently it was not right. Her mother would plead with her to come help slay some food. She never gave in. As a child, adolescent or an adult. Her mother eventually stopped asking.
This changed after her first victory over a life; bitter-sweet though it was. The hunt came out of a need for food. The chase sent adrenaline pumping through her; the kill tasted better than ever; a happiness crept into her bedridden mother's wrinkled face.
It didn't seem worth it.
Each time she went on a hunt, she was cloaked in hues of red. A blend of fear and anger. Not the rush her mother spoke of. Never a sense of achievement. Just a fiery desperation to survive.
The Morrigan, a Celtic Goddess, often appeared as a crow or a washer woman in the streams or rivers which are a metaphor for the boundary between life and death. There she washed the limbs of those hurt in battle to forgive them their sins before entering the next life. She is the crone, mother and maiden, all the embodiment of woman. The Irish have many names for her and she is present in much of their folklore.
I, Morrigan needed to changed media’s face
tired of the media lies,
absent of whys, wise, whys screamed,
“stop dividing us by label and race
your lies trap, things aren’t what they seem.
the only way to heal the worlds scar
is for you to remember; human we are”
in a playful vengeful battle staged
I unplucked feathers, threw
them upon his nose, they grew.
“now you will a blind Homer be
now I no longer will chastise thee.
I do this for Anthony Breeze,
all those you held on their knees.
for now you are all those you enslave
all those vulnerable powerless without wage
I do this as child/woman/ pikey, pakki,
blackie, homeless without shoe
for you to experience the world all anew
this is your one chance to restore your disgrace
then I return your original face.”
He didn't know, so he did it all.
She knew neither, so did it all.
Together they destroyed,
Together they built,
and Together they set the stage
For the next day
and the day after that
and the day after that
and the day after that
All because they couldn't say no
and No one thought to tell them.
"I can at least excuse your ignorance. Very few who come to Carnevale from outside the city know anything of the contest."
Giraldi the mascherari arranges his brushes, pastes and dyes and lights another Toscano to pass the waiting moments.
"'La maschera piu bella.' It's quite a dogfight. Always the last weekend. Always harder than the year before to see off the competition. The mascherari are like old mothers with their recipes. The contest comes around and we become like hermits. 'Creative hibernation' you might call it. But the beauty it inspires! Intoxicating - it really is.
The first week I spend up at Marco Polo just watching, watching, watching. The store barely opens. There's a particular spot that gives me the view of the place without my having to move and I sit and soak in all the features washing over me. It's acutely anatomical: classically balanced zygoma; perfectly fused maxillae. More beautiful than anything carved in alabaster for sure. I swim in it, drown in it. But then I have to shut myself away and make sense of it. All those angles, slants and shades. Combination after combination pieced together and disassembled until I see it in plain sight: la maschera piu bella.Read more >
I do not
Not even among the multitudes,
or in roles played each day.
Aloneness is often
I like being alone.
That is loneliness.
You fill up the
empty places of my life.
You take the edges off anxiety, confusion
and outlast xanax.
I do not like loneliness.
I like being with you.
from a long line
who have housed both
Your roots are on
they swirl towards
put your weapons down.
You will die of fire,
Rejoice in that,
ageing is only
beautiful for those
born of wood,
whom the wind
She no longer cared about her state of dress. Since he died from that rattlesnake bite, Dezl now worked from the crack of dawn to the final whisps of day on the ranch that was his, now hers. There hadn't even been time for her to mourn.
They had only been married a few months. His parents died before she met him, and all his sisters had left the county, maybe even the state. He never talked about them much, they didn't bother to come to the funeral or the wedding. Only she was there to bury him next to his mother and father.
Dezl found it strange that no one came by the ranch anymore. Not that there were many visitors, but on occasion, a salesman or a carpetbagger would show his mealy face and pitch some product that would make her life easier for a few dollars. She huffed contempt while unbaling hay to feed the horses, staring at the condition of the stalls as she did so to determine when she needed to muck them again.
What a life. To go from being a dancer in Carson City, she thought, to owning my own ranch and a being a widow in a year's time. It may be everything I ever dreamed of, but ownership is so lonely when there's not a single human to share it with.
He never took any photographs. He used to visit her in the city every time a herd was sold and put on the train. He loved her, but not enough to keep himself from getting bit and dying by a damn snake. She threw down the hay and picked up the rifle.Read more >
It shall never cease or die
Forever in me will remain the fire
This flame robbed me of a simple life
And my hidden dreams and desire
I shall never forgive them
They hurt my body and my soul
No matter how much I try
I shall remain incomplete, never whole
Passers by watched me yelp and scream
Dumb founded they stood like stones
No one moved an inch from their place
Turned a deaf ear to my poignant tones
The rogues got away that time
But I shall hunt them down and kill
When a woman makes up her mind
She shall do according to her will
There is a reason why I wield this gun
They bruised and killed my innocence
Until they are buried to the ground
My life shall not make any sense
Steady those blotted hands
dress in all your layers
and load it with bated breath
this moment will pass
the moment has passed
and if you bear its weight on one shoulder
the other is left free to sigh
when someone wonders why you seem unmoved.
Sigh and only whisper
that winds still sway the feathers in your hair and sweep the soles of your feet.
"If you don't quit that noise I'm gonna go right ahead and shoot you!"
Daddy knew how to make us stop. He was always popping off his gun at a moment's notice. Shooting loud and haphazard into the thick of the forest. We lived pretty much in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles away from the nearest town.
There was a rickety train line that connected us to the rest of civilisation but even that was two miles by foot.
Sometimes we'd board the slow moving train to Hope and take in the small wonders of people living alongside each other. Where we were, it was just the three of us, and sometimes that was too many.
He had a temper, Daddy; but he also knew how to laugh. He could tease out a smile from me just by calling me by my nickname. He used to call me his Little Owl I had these big round glasses, I would have learnt to hate them if I wasn't so blind.
My brother was always trying to get on the better side of Daddy, setting traps and making fires and doing all the things expected of a man, while I would go about my daughterly duties, mostly burying dead animals I'd found on our land or drawing pictures in the dirt with sticks. I wasn't very helpful and truth be told I'm sure he was pissed at how unremarkable I was. I could sense a dark anger when we were sat round the kitchen table for dinner. Me, my brother Dante and I. Mom wasn’t there for long. She left one day and never thought to say goodbye. Even in our own back yard in the middle of our no man's land there were rumors.Read more >
The mask was sweaty against my face. Exposing my shining fleshy face to those bright lights had never felt more unappealing. The stage was so hot I thought the plastic might melt the mask to my skull, trapping me forever in this all-too-fitting character. The Beast.
I had always known I didn’t ‘look the part’. When I was a young I would go round to other little girls’ houses and play dress up. Even in frills and lace I felt ganglier and more solid than they were. Dancing around, as they did, they’d seem like little pixies. I was a dwarf. Even in princess attire I’d end up the villain. In 'Snow White' I was the queen. I was the sea witch in many a rendition of The Little Mermaid. By the age of ten I had been every wicked queen that exists in myth, legend and Disney.
But it wasn’t so bad – I was good at playing the villain. Great even. I’ve been every single school play, and I happily auditioned for this one. This has not been a good experience. But I suppose I did it to myself. I could have auditioned for the chorus or one of the townspeople. Male or female… nobody minds when there are no boys around. I didn’t have to go for a lead. But that little ugly girl in a frilly frock got the better of me.
Needless to say I didn’t get Belle. I turned up, sang my best soprano, and got duly appointed as “the other lead”. I tried to back out but there’s not much you can do when you audition for beauty and get the beast. I suppose it was only to be expected. It was an unspoken judgement but I got the message all the same: The mask was an improvement.
Life does not
stand, a loaded gun.
(Dickinson was wrong.) Bang.
Never even knew what.
Wanna pull that tie, quiff on fire boi.
I know you know what to do with that muzzle. I know
it's (not) a mask.
What you hunt, you become? Not that simple. Not black-and-red. Read my jeans: it's blue in the morning and this is doing.
I learned it from my [ ]. I learned it from TV. I learned it in my body, from the fur on my feet to my flaming skull. Let me show you.
Lesson 1: The Grip
Lesson 2: Staring Down the Barrel
Lesson 3: Safety/Trigger
Lesson 4: The Rifle Repeats
& in the other hand, a placard that reads:
Not the Academy's poverty porn.
a tool for whetting a scythe; a plunder, a sacking, a spoliation; each of the set of spiral grooves giving to the projectile a rotatory movement on its own axis; to carry off as booty, to plunder, to steal; to play dice, to gamble, esp. for a stake;
I mean, she’d always stuck out, been a bit different, know what I mean?
But we just thought; well, she’s young. She’s a teenager. They all go through a phase, as they say.
They all try and rebel a bit. So we weren’t worried.
The gun? Well we were living in America so we weren’t unduly worried.
Quite the norm round here.
And the dyed hair is all kind of normal these days isn’t it.
And to be honest we didn’t get too worried when she came in late, her feet all dirty and wet, no.
But I suppose we started to sit up and take notice a bit when she turned up for dinner and her face had disappeared. I mean we are parents.
I just brushed it away to begin with. And I asked her you know, was there anything she wanted to talk to me about, anything she thought I should know.
But she didn’t seem too worried, so I just let it go.
Because you know you have to let them have their own life experiences don’t you?
You have to let them find their own way.
And to be honest as long as she wasn’t involved in a gang or with drugs or something, we were quite pleased she’d found a hobby.
And she’s doing well at school, in fact her grades have gone up, so it must be a good thing.
Well we feel that too many parents don’t get involved enough with their kids these days, don’t take an interest in what their kids get up to.
You have to put yourself out, don’t you?
For your kids.