The Awakening of Naram-Sin

[image description: how I imagine Naram-Sin might look post make over]

After many years he heard her voice and only her voice. “I want to see you in one month, perhaps you’ll remember how to be a man. Not at home, you’ll know the place.” Then the silence he’d known for so long settled back around his shoulders, he wanted to ignore the call, look on it as yet another of the demands of his progeny but, he knew he couldn’t. In the ages since he had done more than watch the earthly realm, he had in fact forgotten how to be a man, he reached for the vial he kept around his neck and snapped it in his fingers. He felt the blood magic do what it had been created to do and the call for the leech went out he stepped out of the darkness of the Abyss and back onto the grounds of the House. 

Elsewhere the leech tilted her head, she felt the call and gestured for her man. The huge lycanthrope she traveled with appeared at her elbow and bent down, “yes lady?” He listened to her quiet rasp and nodded. “Yes, at once madam. I will make the preparations.” After he left, she sat in the suite looking out the window, she absently ran her fingertips across the feather she’d had braided into her thick black hair for longer than she understood. She couldn’t remember who it belonged to nor how long she’d had it, but she knew where to go and as she stood to pack her bag, she looked out at the Atlanta skyline and sighed, another city she found nothing in. 

The drive out of New Orleans felt familiar enough she left her companion at the hotel in spite of his protestations, she hoped for something, her own demise maybe but as she pulled up to the big, beautiful manse, no joy. What she found was an enormous man standing in the driveway waiting for her, when she stepped out, he looked down at her and understood she was different immediately. “You called for me?” He didn’t like how she said it, “yes. Do you remember me leech?” She tilted her head and took a few steps closer, her brows knit, and she reached for the feather and rubbed it against her cheek, then she had to clear her throat. “No.”  

He stepped aside to let her go into the house, as she got into the light, he had to hide shock. There was a thick dark scar that ran from just under her chin, down the front of her throat and down her chest, it disappeared into the v of her top and he frowned. “What do you call yourself now?” He felt something like sadness when she spoke, her voice was a broken heavily accented whisper, not the smooth contra alto he’d remembered. He watched her think about the question then she shrugged a little, “my maker called me Minna, faithful guard.” She snorted and stepped past him inside. 

“I have a room, this way Minna.” She let him take her arm, he felt the power in her, but she guarded her presence tightly, had he not known her in her previous life he might not have thought she was the same creature. He opened the door to the room he’d taken, and she stepped inside and sat on the bed looking up at him expectantly. He paced a bit before he spoke, “I am going to see one of my kin in one month. I have to be a man.” She tilted her head then nodded. “Of course, first what may I call you?” 

She stood up and walked to the closet, she poked around in it and shook her head taking out her phone to make notes. “I remember little of recent years old friend. I was terribly injured and only a few years ago woke. I apologize I do not remember your name Alal. When I look at you, I think of the Akkadians. Were you an Akkadian?” He sat and watched her move around the room, “I don’t know.” She stepped into the bathroom then came out. 

“You remind me of a man I knew once, may I call you Naram-Sin?” He thought about it and nodded, “she will like that.” She gestured at the room, “this won’t do. Come with me. Bring any things you need. I will meet you at the car, something about this place-” she trailed off and walked out. He had nothing with him and followed. “You’re not afraid?” Having someone there talking loosened his vocal cords and he felt if not at ease at least prepared to do what he had to do. She opened his door and shrugged, “most men want to kill me eventually, I’m sure if you were in the mood to have my death I would be screaming no?” He chuckled and got into her car, automatically groping to figure out how to move the seat back. She pressed a button and his seat slid back all the way and he nodded his thanks.  

“I have a house. Tomorrow afternoon my tailor will come to dress you. I will do something about your appearance Naram-Sin.” The man frowned at the side of her face while she started the car and lit a cigarette, “what is wrong with my appearance?” She glanced at him; one eyebrow lifted. “Really? You look like you’ve been wandering the back alleys of Marrakesh for a month. I assume you are going to see the girl? Lostrus?” He shifted in his seat and pulled his seatbelt on, “yes. She asked to see me and said to remember I was a man.” She pulled out onto the main road and smiled, “of course. She has exquisite taste in men. But you must be special to her, most males I have seen her speak to she calls boy. Or food.” 

“You remember her then?” She shook her head, “non. We ran into each other in Brazil. You smell similarly. She moves like you.” She turned the radio on and fiddled with her phone until the car was full of slow deep bass music, she looked at him as he stared out the window, believing he was preparing to have to destroy the most unique of his family, she left him to his thoughts as she drove. He leaned over after a long while and turned the music down, “what happened to you?” 

She lit another cigarette and didn’t look at him. “Apparently my sire tried to create some ridiculous blood empire, and, in his attempt, something happened to me. He said when he found me I was cut from there,” she gestured to just under her chin down to her belly, “he had to put me to sleep to try and fix it. When he woke me, we had a disagreement. Unfortunately for him, he did not leave me where I was.” He nodded, that was not her history. He’d known her for what, twenty years by that time? But he could sense she wasn’t trying to deceive him, so he let it be, figuring her marriage had perhaps dissolved again. 

Naram-Sin looked out the window again, “and the others in his empire?” He could hear the pleasure in her voice, “I killed every creature on this planet who shared blood, bond or loyalty to him. And now, I do as I please.” Ahead the road was closed off, flashing lights and ambulances littered the roadway in both directions. She cursed under her breath and pulled over, she turned the car off, scooted her seat back and turned with her back against the door. “This is how you looked when you were a man?” He realized he’d made the right decision on who to call, maybe more so with her in that state. 

He looked in the side mirror, rubbed his beard lightly and found himself smiling. “Yes, more or less. She never saw me like this. It feels-” he paused, frowning trying to remember how to allow this. “I don’t like it.” The woman laughed, “none of us do non? When one has spent so long avoiding being or knowing humanity, to return is shit.” He finally turned to look at her, he looked at her not as a leech he was, what? Fond of? Familiar with? He had to think about it beyond the hatred he’d known for everyone and everything for so long. 

She waited for him, she seemed to understand it without him having to try to explain. He reached out to touch her face then the ends of her hair, “you cut your hair.” She chuckled, “yes. Often. What is on your mind? You may speak freely with me; I understand it is not a simple thing.” She allowed the touch, he understood that much. His brows knit together, “you are still a beautiful creature. Thank you for this. I believe this was the correct course.” 

As they talked it got easier for him to speak normally, like a man. The rage and pain that kept him unable to think of or do anything else, he even managed to laugh when she joked about having been set on fire and subsequently burning down another of her sire’s houses. Once the accident cleared, she pulled back into traffic, “the house I am renting is a short way away. I am not sure I can stay for more than a few days. My tailor will come to you, I will leave you a phone and some cash. If your reunion goes poorly, please don’t destroy my house.” 

When they pulled up her companion opened the door for them, he bowed and offered her a mug as she stepped inside. “Thank you. Kenyon. This is my friend Naram-Sin. Naram, this is my companion Kenyon. If you gentlemen will excuse me for a moment. Calls.” She walked away; Kenyon smiled. “Good evening, sir. May I offer you something to drink? Eat?” He thought about it, “grapefruit juice if you have it, please.” The wolf nodded and walked out to get it; Naram-Sin sat to wait. 

Kenyon and Minna made him comfortable in a guest room, Kenyon and he were nearly the same size and rather than wait for a tailor Naram-Sin was given clothing to wear. Minna, no he wouldn’t call her that it was not her name, the next morning was up and waiting for him when he walked out of the shower to find her sitting on the bed waiting. He had a towel around his hips and tried to find a shirt, she waved him off. “We will be leaving this evening. Come, let me make you the man you should be.” 

He sat on the chair she nodded to, he thought he should be uncomfortable, but he wasn’t. She draped a sheet around his shoulders and moved around him to look at him, lips pursed. “You are lovely, I will only make you look like the man of this time she wants to see. Relax, I will do my worst.” He did as he was told, after sleeping in that body, in a bed, he felt like a man. That being what it was, he watched her move with a new gaze.  

She came out of the bathroom with a basket full of items, clippers, scissors, little bottles of things. She got to work on him and he felt his eyes close. No one had touched him so freely in more time than he could imagine. Her hands were warm, she ignored when he twitched or tensed. “Do you mind if I reshape your beard?” He shook his head and tried to smile but it was a little weak around the edges, “do whatever you want.” Only a second later he realized how that might’ve sounded to her, given that she was standing in front of him and of course his eyes were a little all over her. 

She chuckled and got back to work. Once she finished with him she used a little brush to clean off his head and face, she rubbed nice smelling oil into his hair then his beard. She bent in front of him and used little scissors to trim his eyebrows. He felt his body relax and relax again, he felt pliable, if she’d told him that she intended to drown him like a cur pup he would have happily agreed. “What did you do to me? Fucking-” 

Before he finished that she chuckled in his ear and her damaged raspy whisper and hot breath sent chills up and down his body, “I am a fucking witch. You’re just calm, you’ll be fine. Now go look and if you like we are finished with that part. I had Kenyon bring some suits he bought for himself that he never has worn but I think will look fine on you. She waits.” She didn’t know how she knew that but she knew. Before he got up she moved around him to stand between his knees.  

When he looked up he wanted to reach out and touch her, he wanted to remember what a warm willing body felt like but that was a liberty too far. She waited for his urge to pass, “now I must leave you Naram-Sin. Perhaps we will see each other another time and-” she stopped, smiled and kissed him lingeringly and tenderly. As she straightened and walked out of the room he just sat there trying to calm down. Instead, he got back into the bed for a nap. 

Hours later the little cellular phone he left on the bedside table rang and lit up, he almost threw it out the window but instead pressed the green button to speak, “hello?” The voice on the other end sounded amused, “hi. Are you ready, man?” He was quiet for a moment before answering, “yes.” He could hear her smiling but, he couldn’t feel her. “Good. Tonight then. I’ll text you the address.” 

While he waited, he dressed and went back into the bathroom to look at himself. She had cut his hair and trimmed his beard, had he looked like that? After dressing he went downstairs to find a note from the vampire, she’d left him the car if he wanted it and a stack of cash. “Enjoy yourself Naram-Sin.” He took the keys and headed for the car, it took some adjustments and false starts before he figured out what to do. He’d been watching the world so long he knew more of how it worked than he thought and once he was on the road, he settled in. 

Naram-Sin drove around New Orleans, stopped at a gas station to buy anything really. Inside the woman behind the counter smiled up at him, “well ain’t we big and pretty. What can I do for you darlin’?” The pretty Black woman gave him a gap-toothed smile, her posture reflecting interest rather than fear, he leaned on the counter and smiled back. “I need some gas and directions if you please ma’am.” He allowed himself inflection, she rewarded him with her body leaning towards him, cleavage first. 

“Is there any and I do mean anything else you want baby?” He shook his head sadly, “me no. I have an appointment. Maybe I’ll swing by again sometime.” He gave her money and purchased mints, a pack of sweet-smelling little cigars and a bottle of juice. As he left, he heard her whistle and say to herself, “god damn he fine.” Back in the car the phone was blinking he was ready. 

The restaurant was empty save for one table in the middle, as the man lead him in he slowed to look at her back. She wore braids and as she turned, he saw she had changed. Her glamour no longer resembled him and her image of the mother she wanted, no. She was something else and as she smiled at him, he felt a warning in his gut but ignored it. When he got close, he took her hand and kissed it. “Hello Lostrus.”  

Lostrus stood up and when he let her hand go she ran her hands over his arms, picked his hands back up to look at them, then she put her fingers in his beard and smiled. “Did the bloodsucker give you a name?” He had to clear his throat, “Naram-Sin.” She nodded and put her arms around him to pull him into a tight embrace, “good news Naram-Sin. You, are not the father.” 


Cutter Love- Reprint.

Originally appeared in Urban Graffiti 2016

CW: Self harm

Take the blade.
Her voice is smooth almost a monotone and the handle of her blade is cool against my sweating palm.
She watches me — my eyes directed to the left of the thing in my hand. I don’t tremble but my eyes shake.
I am so afraid.
Look at it. She doesn’t speak but I hear the command.
Looking hurts.
I look at it folded demurely in my palm. The pretty pearlized handle worn smooth where her fingers have held it. If only she could wear down the terrors that live in my skin with that touch.
I turn it in my hand and open it.
The action is smooth and silent, the way the light fragments on the thin edge dazzles my eye. This is probably what love at first sight feels like.
I run the flat of the blade across my arm; it whisks away a stripe of hair. There is no sound but there is music.
When I look up at her again her shirt is off as always I am taken by her frilly bra and freckled sternum.
She lowers one strap and I stare at the expanse of plump flesh cradled in her palm.
Her murmur is barely anything, need like this always takes her voice.
Her blade and my fingers create together, mingle her blood and lust with my fear and love.
Relief for her, anticipation for me. Yet my hands are steady as is her breathing.
Tonight it is not my turn but I am satisfied.
When it all gets to be too much, we know.
We know it in our own flesh and fingers and scars. 

Reprint from Medium- Goodest Girl

Summer nights are the worst. The combination of the heat, the bare skin, everything comes together and is just worse than everything. It’s June and the full moon is coming and it’s just all bad and she hates it. That night before she left for work her brother lounged on her bed talking, “so, you think you gonna be okay tonight? I mean I can leave band practice early. Or like why don’t you take the night off?”

She turned to glare at him, “is you crazy? You know that calling in cause your period is fixing to start is not a thing, right? I’ll be fine. I got my board and I’ll cut up through the ass end of the Jungle maybe wreck something. It just got raided like three days ago nobody’ll be around.” Her glare softened; his concerned face always made her think of chubby serious cubs. “Don’t make that face, it’ll be good. I’ll make breakfast when you get home.”

Mention of breakfast made him smile. “I’ll stop at the Kin and pick up some fresh sausage, they always open early for me.” Deal made and brother soothed she finished getting ready for her shift at the diner. After her brother left she raided the fridge and powered down the last of the milk and a handful of the last of their ground burger. She brushed her teeth and grabbed a few emergency tampons and headed out.

A few times after the nightly rush of drunks she had to step out back and stand bent at the waist trying to breathe through the pain. When the worst of it passed she was able to go back inside and smile at stinky men, she poured coffee and talked enough flirtatious shit to make a good amount of tips. Good tips notwithstanding she felt like horse shit.

“Awwww pobrecita you want a roxy baby?” The voice was warm and sweet, laden with real concern of the type that comes from that one wild ass old Auntie everyone has. She smiled and shook her head, “naw. I’ll be okay. But like,” she lowered her voice, embarrassed, “my pussy hurts. Like all of it. Is that normal?” She gestured vaguely to her crotch region. The older woman clucked her tongue, “oh yeah my daughter gets it like that. When you get home take off your pants and panties and put a warm cloth on it. Or get fucked for a few hours, it’ll be sore but worth it.”

There was no blood on her shift. She had a few close calls, but each time found the crotch of her panties unsullied. The last time she sat with tears in her eyes for a good ten minutes before she could muster the energy to get her uniform pants back up and her work smile back on. She reapplied her lipstick and allowed herself the softest baby wolf howl, “Ohuwooowooo.”

At the end of her shift she stood dancing foot to foot while the manager counted her out. “Nice, you want me to call you a taxi?” The balding very pink man who was the night shift manager looked at her with a mix of concern and amusement. She grinned at him, “naw I got my board and if anybody tries it, bap bap bap.” She mimed hitting someone with her skateboard and he shook his head. “I will never understand how you ride that thing but you won’t ride in a car.” She changed into her jeans before getting ready to head out, checking her underwear one more time before deciding to chance it.

She shrugged and pocketed her money before turning to leave. “Deuces bitches.” Her manager called from behind her, “be careful don’t go to jail. I need you tomorrow night.” She threw a peace sign over her shoulder and stepped out of the backdoor right onto her trusty old longboard. She rolled slow and gracefully twined her long black and pink braids into a huge bun on the back of her neck, that done next thing her earbuds come out of her pocket and flicking her eyes from the road to her phone she scrolled through playlists until she found the right one. Swan Lake started to play and she smiled and kicked to get going faster.

In spite of the pain in her crotch and uterus, the closeness of the full moon and the sticky summer air against her skin she felt pretty good. The prospect of a big old wolf style breakfast made her smile even bigger as she flew out of downtown and headed into the neighborhood known as The Jungle. Outside of the neighborhood, people called it the sketchy part of town. Sure, there was crime and gangs and back in the day, crack hit and everything was fucked- yet it was still kind of beautiful.

Naturally she’d been right to say that her end of the Jungle would be empty after the raids. The traphouses stood silent and empty, some with lights still on. Most still draped in crime scene tape. For some the quiet might have been eerie but she loved it. Without having to avoid the shuffling baseheads or other high as fuck who knows what she had time to slow down, she jumped the curb and made long lazy waves in the street on her board.

The fat full moon hung above her turning her into a silvered goddess on a long board, her nose tilted up to smell the hint of meat on the air. Clean meat smell wafted on the breeze for the first time since she’d gotten out of bed she felt pretty good, until in her belly she felt her uterus doing something, it clenched and she felt the involuntary squeeze of her vagina and then the expected wet gush.

She closed her eyes and tipped her head back. “Fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck.” She had resisted an earlier impulse to put on a pad and she can feel the blood seeping through her panties, unable to help herself she steps off of her skateboard and picks it up, smashing it over and over again into the curb. “Fuck you, fuck this fucking period bullshit. Piece of shit ass uterus, I hate you.”

She couldn’t hear the steps, and the preceding meat smell didn’t work to pull her from her momentary rage. The one time she wasn’t the most careful, her period decided to start with a whoosh. A man stood a few feet behind her laughing, and she whirled, glaring. “What the fuck are you laughing at?”

The man smiled at her, “you are so cute. Why you mad boo? Your boyfriend dump you?” She dropped the halves of her skateboard and put her fists on her hips, her period forgotten for the moment. “Who the fuck is you? I don’t know you, why would that ever be any of your business?” He started to say something when he noticed the spreading stain on her crotch, his face twisted, and he stepped back a pace.

“You dirty bitch, why don’t you go clean up. Ugh.”

Anything else he had to say disappeared behind the curtain of red that fell over her eyes. Under even the most dire circumstances, she was a good wolf. She never hunted in the city, never attacked humans, she didn’t howl randomly, she didn’t growl under her breath at work. Most of the time she lived the most perfect city wolf life. She had her brother and their pack and most of the time everything was fine. But right then, right in that instant she let it all go.

Her shoulders relaxed and she smiled at the guy as he talked. She stripped off her shirt and he stopped talking and stood there looking beefy and deliciously sweaty. She tossed her shirt away and looked up at the guy.

“Oh, man. You know, any other day it’d be fine, but no, nope, you had to talk shit today, didn’t you? And you know what? I bet you’re one of those weak motherfuckers that can’t stand a bloody pussy. Like you’ll bother a girl in the middle of the goddamn night to get some, but oh, if it’s bleeding ewww. Well, tonight is not your night my dude. Tonight, you gon’ learn.”

The guy started to try and respond, and it died on his lips. The roar that rolled out of her froze him in place, right before his eyes, her pretty brown skin started to run with fur and her body made strange liquid sounds. And her face, her little round face elongated and contorted into a snout full of ivory fangs, and then it was done. That was not a girl standing in front of him, that was a fucking werewolf.

She stood there, showing her teeth. She rolled her tongue around, scratched at an ear and he would have (had he lived) sworn the bitch smiled at him.

The Jungle echoed with her howling when the man took off running. It was the sound of pure joy, the hunt was on and without stopping to dab the blood from her furry crotch she ran after him. The harder he ran, the sweeter his flesh smelled, the happier she got. When her prey reached the dead ass end of the Jungle, she watched him panic for a minute before she sprang at him out of the shadows.

His scream was cut short as her stout furry body crashed into him and her powerful jaws locked onto his throat. Unlike her brothers, she wasn’t quite large enough to snap a neck, not for lack of trying. She’d taken a cue from the cheetahs and took him down like an ibex. She lay on his chest, feeling his body struggle as the oxygen burned away and his heart struggled to keep going. She held her grip on his jaw and chewed a little when he started to cry.

When his struggling stopped and she could no longer feel the pound of his heart, she let go and stretched, she rearranged herself and dove into his belly snout first. Belly was her favorite cut of meat and he had plenty of that fatty stripey bacon she loved. Cramps forgotten she tore strips of flesh away, munching contentedly, her fluffy brown tail wagged, and she felt so much better.

After a few minutes of bliss, she looked up and her upper lip curled, she rose slightly to stand over her kill, her brother stood there with his arms crossed. “Really? Is you serious? The fuck is wrong with you?” She didn’t change back, she whined a little and pranced in place before she walked over and sat on his foot, looking up with doleful eyes.

“Ohuwooowooo?” She knew that tone worked, he tried to keep glaring, but between her little whiny whimper and the big, upturned eyes he softened. “Fine, fine, stop looking at me like that god damn. Okay, go ahead. Jr is on the way with his truck, so we’ll have the leftovers for breakfast. And don’t even try to eat the whole dude, you’ll get sick. Remember what happened last time?” Her ears flattened, she did remember and still felt some type of way about it. He smiled and squatted, when they were nose to nose, he kissed her muzzle.

“Good girl, that’s a big one. Go on ahead and eat some more.”

She licked his face and ran in a proud little circle around her kill before settling down to finish the belly meat while they waited for Junior to pick them up.

Nobody reported the man missing. The next morning when one of the regulars in the Jungle found the pool of blood somebody went to get a hose and they washed it down so it wouldn’t stink. Folks got bailed out of jail or wandered back in when the heat was off. Things settled back to normal and really, everything was okay. Save of course for the occasional strangely animalistic attacks near the full moon.

Writing Exercise #11

Inspired by this line by beloved Christopher Ropes – And the darkness soft, so soft, kisses my staring eyes.

I am not alone because I am lonely. I keep secrets folded into the most velvet darkness. I keep them because they are mine. I am theirs. My secrets hold my lovers like the sea holds what we were and what we are. I am alone because I am held in the palm of my lovers’ great vastness. Cradled in frozen salt water, held aloft in the deep space darkness of the sea. They speak to me, in heaving whispers as they glide and crash and call. And now, in the silence of 4 AM at the new moon, the dark stretches over them as they reflect starlight at a jealous sky. They whisper, come my love. Inside.  

Then I am naked. Pure as the day I was born, my belly heavy with the potentiality of release. They whisper, beckon me with traces of foam on the sands, evidence of their arousal and how they wait for me. When they are ready, heaving and restless in their bed I go inside. They are spread before me, wonderous and lethal and I am only theirs. 

They pull me in with firm undulations, their salt on my lips. My simple flesh remembers what we once were and in the deep, in the blackness, in the pounding mute noise, I give. I give breath and body, light and life. I am spent finally, satisfied at last. Each last breath is my declaration. 

Forever is darkness. Forever is secret heat hidden in the parts of my love no others may see. I am theirs. I am theirs; I am not alone. I will never be lonely. I am their secret. Folded into velvet darkness to be kept forever.  


Reprint #1- Calling Oshun

Originally published 2013 in Expanded Horizons

Voices bring me up towards wakefulness and the Earth; my body is moving before I’m entirely awake. The voices are beautiful, full of gravel dredged from the Deep South, saturated in whiskey and sorrow, then poured from the mouths of the men in a living room somewhere.

The singing calls me out of my little somnolent cocoon. As I move towards the sounds, my anticipation tingles at the ends of my fingers. Dreams peel back; I’m awake now.

I know what they are up to.

They can’t see or feel me just yet; they are too engrossed in their calling songs. This group of beautiful men, brown luscious men with sweat slicked skin in the humidity of the evening, down to undershirts and trousers and blue jeans, they are perfect offerings. I close my eyes, while they pause for refreshment.

Drinks in hand the men sit in a loose circle to talk.

“I don’t think this is going to work fellas. We should go to a river and do this right, build a-”

Another man cuts him off:

“Don’t even start on that again. That river is not the place to go my man. You know that. Now what are we gonna do?”

The men sit silent, brooding on the question. An older man catches my eye. His skin is so beautiful it takes me home. Smooth dark almost night blue-black skin, gleaming like a beacon, he is the one I want.

My sons, these beautiful men are like most of the others. They have lost the old traditions and ways. They have never danced at my festivals; they have no clean sweet flowing river to worship at. They have nothing of their ancestors or me. They will, as people with fragmented histories will do, they make it up as they feel fit.

The object of my desire lights a cigar, puffing smoke and not listening to what the other men say for a few moments. Fortunately for me, these men have learned what few these days seem to be able to. Among the Gods, at least us old Gods we reside where our people go. Their worship wakes us, brings us into new worlds and times though we ourselves are timeless.

They have settled on a new strategy though their original plan was working quite well. I am here and listening, ready to grace them with a visitation. They have put out their cigarettes, finished their drinks and stand up together in the center of the room. I watch from above and around them, curious as to what song they might sing. One of the men, a young one fresh into manhood clears his throat and hums a few notes.

They began to sing:

“When Moses was in Egypt land…”

This singing fills me, I want to weep and embrace them. The young one’s sweet clear tenor rises on the verse, soaring so beautifully I cannot help but move through the room and consequently through them.

The men start to feel my presence and their bodies sway as they sing, their dark faces are turned up and contorted with divine ecstasy. The older one who’d caught my attention earlier, at the third round of the chorus he raises his hands his baritone voice booming in the circle of power the men have created.

He is beautiful as fine polished ebony, his eyes closed his wide mouth stretched and magnificent, his voice transcends all. In his voice is the rumble of thunder from my long ago homeland:

“Let my people go.”

He intones these words so fiercely if I were another god I would devour him, take him into myself so that I would not go another moment without this sacred wonder.

As the other men rejoin him on the verse, I move around him wrap myself like cool water against his skin and whisper in his ear as they move to the end of the song.

“Thank you my son, you and yours are blessed.”

Inside the music, each man feels the weight of my words spoken through the lips of this beautiful man; he is my voice for this moment in this world. I look at them through his eyes. I love them.

“My sons you are beloved and I am with you always.”

I exit my beauty and each man in turn stops singing and falls to his knees, together they intone:

“O san rere o…We sing your praise, Ashe-O.”

Writing Exercise #10

Inspired by my beloved Harls and her goddamn meme.

[image description: Evil Lyn and Skeletor together with the words. The first line of any story can be improved by making sure the second line is: and then the murder begins. Below the text reads: In the beginning God created heaven and the earth. And then the murders began.]

“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth. And then, the murders began.” Dre stood there grinning at me like a damn fool, I stared back at him and waited. He didn’t say anything else. “Boy if you don’t get your narrow high yellow ass away from my god damn table. Go on somewhere.” He scampered away giggling, I shook my head and looked back at what I was doing.  

I tried to scowl at him when I felt him looking at me from across the room. I laughed. “Shut up come on back over here, let’s talk how you feeling?” He loped back over, he was built like my Mama just nine feet of skinny arms and legs flapping away. “You ready to do this work baby?” He watched my hands move as I moved the pieces around the board. “For real? Me? Really?” 

I work with my children in ways that remain familiar to them until they adjust to their ascension. It was only Dre’s fortieth year with me and I thought he was ready. “Yes you. Come on. What are my names?” His gaze turned abstract; his face fell a little slack as it did when he was in deep thought. He pulled in a breath and began, “Mother. Anjea. Cerridwen. Innana. Hathor. Mary. Kali. Lakshmi. Erzulie Dantor. Progenitrix. Ibu. Ma. Okaachan. Begetter. Founder. Alpha. Omega. All. Gods. All Mothers. The womb and the grave.” 

“Good. And what are your names Dre?” 

Around us the familial scene melted, he rose and his back bowed as his feet lifted from the ground. Light as pure and searing gold as the sun herself shone from his open mouth. I leaned forward; it was not my place to direct him I could only wait for him to awaken. The light wavered and intensified; I watched his skinny chest heave as the truth erupted inside of him. 

“I am beloved of God herself. Call me Ramiel. Gabriel. Ares. Huitzilopochtli. I am Tyr. I am Aganjú. I am that motha fucka.” 

At the end as his wings unfurled behind him and peeled the remnants of his tshirt off his light brown skin glowed. His locs floated around his head and when he looked back at me he took a breath and hesitated. “Don’t be afraid. Let it out.” He closed his eyes, threw back his head and roared, on Earth people scattered across the continents shivered, I rose with my arms out and threw my head back to join him.  

The combined truth of our divine voices blew the last of the scene around us away. We were not in his Mama’s kitchen, he was mine. And I his. “Say my name.” He opened his eyes and let himself land, he took a knee and bowed his beautiful head. “You are mother. Lover. Father. Heaven. Hell. Flesh. Bone. Blood. Shit and death. You are God. And I am your humble servant.”  

I guided him to his feet and he wrapped two of my locs around his fingers like a happy child. He smiled at me as bright and beautiful as the sun breaking the clouds. I kissed each of his cheeks, “in the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth. And now, the mother fucking murders begin.” 


Writing Exercise #9

Something a little different. I used this prompt by my beloved Rowan. Then I made it harder for myself by deciding to connect this piece with another piece. I chose this one (read it first) I told myself to change the story and bring her back but not home. AND I had to use the prompt from the original story as well.


11:43 PM 

48° F 

Seven hours left of the day and it’s only Tuesday.- 

This is, The World. The neon sign cheerily informs me that it is nice out, close to midnight and that allergy medicine is on sale buy one get one half off. Good to know. I’m sitting on a bus bench somewhere, I feel okay, but my feet are bare. I’m wearing the softest dress; it is long enough to cover my feet and feels like being kissed by clouds. I feel expensive until my awareness goes back into my feet. 

I pull my feet up and hear myself mewl, apparently, I don’t like it. I realize I should be worried about being in a mystery bus shelter, close to midnight, somewhere but that feels normal, as it should be no, no I am upset about my feet. 

I need to move. I need to go away from this place but the thought of putting my bare feet back on the ground brings tears to my eyes. When I move, I realize I have a backpack, this is my backpack I just know from the way the weight settled in the small of my back like comfort. I pull it off and look inside. The detritus tells me I like lip gloss but don’t have enough sense to carry extra flip flops. I pull out a little bundle and find three little books wrapped in a scarf, one appears to be a raggedy little chapbook of poems and drawings signed with a string of symbols, the second a little book of jokes and the third one just as the word manual. 

Manual for what? Deeper inside the backpack I find more odds and ends, and another make up bag that has a thing in it. The thing is smallish, roundish, plastic with a little screen and three buttons. “What the fuck are you?” I’m surprised, my voice is slightly raspy, accented maybe? I don’t know. I flip open the manual. 

Hi Ana, if you’re reading this you fucked up. Well technically I fucked up. I’m sorry, I thought I could get us home and it looks like I failed. You are Ana, Professori Ana Pasquale. Say it out loud, let your tongue remember. 

I do what the manual says, in this moment I am grateful for the cover of night in an urban somewhere. A place where a barefoot woman in a bus shelter rummaging in a bag and muttering garners little attention. Ana Pasquale, I am Ana J. Pasquale. Professori. Yes. That tastes right. This situation seems, usual. 

In the manual I find the page titled re-entry,  

The thing, the little plastic doohickey is called an alpha-numeric pager. In the manual I say to turn it on and press the buttons until it lights up. The screen flickers a weird deep green then a message pops up with an address. I get it. I know this is me. I put my feet back on the ground and flex my toes, digging into the filth.  

There is money in the make-up bag, I put on some lip-gloss and run my hand over my hair. The backpack is nice, soft well-worn leather. When I stand and look down at myself, I can’t see my toes, my soft whisper of a dress swirls around me the way only a finely made garment can, it works. The sign above flashes,  

11:59 PM 

44° F 

I find my smile, I feel my back straighten, I am Professori Ana Pasquale, I am not gone. I am not the Shadow. Only The World knows me now and there’s seven hours left in the day and it’s only Tuesday.  

Writing Exercise #8

Another inspired by beloved Chiwan.

that held death and love so closely together.

I lived in the type of neighborhood that the news people would call “struggling” with their fake concerned faces. They only came when there was violence, or when they needed image for their urban decay segments. We called it home. Home ain’t always good, we all knew it. Sometimes in the morning someone would be hosing blood off of the sidewalks while detectives walked around trying to talk to folks. Nobody talked.

Once, when I was about 19, a cop asked me if I’d seen the stabbing. I looked up at him and shook my head, “of course not.” He glared at me, “how do you people live like this? You should be ashamed of yourself. What is wrong with you?” He got loud and some of the fellas took notice. I know he expected me to cower, to cry or do something arrest worthy. “Sir, I hope one day you understand.” My voice was so small, gentle he flinched. He would, they all would.

I walked away from him, and the fellas relaxed, I heard later he quit the force, citing inequalities and the thin blue line. The boys always wanted to ask me but, I’d just smile and ask after their aunties. As I got older, I felt the heartbeat of our neighborhood. I became, in whispers bruja, the old folks called me obeah woman, one of the young girls I saw all the time took to calling me Mambo and following me around.

-that held death and love so closely together.

Mama always said I was an old soul. I made her laugh. I was serious. Her little Ole ‘livia. I took my silences and dove into them like prayers, like Sankofa knowledge, like home. She called me her witch baby, her spooky sweetheart. Where she walked in light and bright expansive energy, I walked in shadow and secrets and pensive observation. Most of the time, she let me be. I had to grow into what I could become, and she knew well. Too well.

Another time, I sat in an interrogation room with my hands folded on the table, my back straight, the detective in front of me was still being the nice one. “You know why you’re here Ms. Olivia. Why don’t you just, relax and talk to us.” As he yammered at me, I watched his partner. He was handsome, tall and well kept. I could see how vain he was, how hard he worked to keep his vanity a secret.

I waited the good cop out. I could smell the decayed soul in his body. His breath reeked of sour blue raspberry candy, rot and sleep. I turned back to the other one he was so engrossed in building the rapport between us, he hadn’t noticed I wasn’t paying attention. I smiled and sighed; I gave him my softness. He wanted to see me cry, I could taste his desire on my tongue. I had to wait his partner out.

When I was growing up, I caught Mama watching me all the time. Her head would tilt, her mouth would turn up at the left corner and after a while she’d always smiles. “Baby, what you know?” She observed me, it wasn’t really that she wanted to talk, she wanted to see. Mama saw me, truly saw me at the core. She knew me.

The mediocre cop thought he was the good cop. He tried his tricks, “listen we understand you might be nervous Olivia. We are here just to clear things up. “His breath was nothing, his eyes while pretty held no secrets, no depth, no nothing. The other cop, the good cop made a low murmur and they decided it was time for a break.

When they returned, the mediocre cop sat next to me and offered me a cup of coffee. I knew it was time, I ignored his shitty coffee and turned to the other one. The one sour with rapacious desire, fear and lack of power. He sat in front of me, flexing his jaw and coiled like a snake. I faced him and leaned forward, his gaze lowered from my eyes to my lips, to my throat and when he realized his face tightened, I spoke so soft, so sweet. “Detective, I only want to speak to you.”

When I leaned back, I felt their exchange, the wordless acknowledgement and they thought they had me. The Good cop couldn’t help himself, as his partner left the room, he let me see him feel his own power. “So, Olivia. What do you have to tell me sweetheart?” The way he said sweetheart tasted like body odor in my mouth, “I want to tell you a secret detective. I do know why I’m here but, I can only tell you. Can I tell you my secret, detective?”

I had to wait for him. For his pleasure, for him to believe in the pull of his tense smile, his flexed jaw. I let him see the promise of secrets only for him, for his glory in my eyes and when he took it, I knew. “All right Ms. Olivia, I promise I will do everything for you that I can.” Yes, he would. I let him have my profile, just the hint of my lower lip trembling before I spoke.

“I want you to see detective. I want you to know, to be my most beloved gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath.” His soul, what was left of it at any rate tried. It did. There was a single spark of knowing, of caution, of pure animal terror but, his ego was too hungry. When I looked back at his face the effulgence of blooming allegiance and lust shone in his eyes, he whispered to himself. “Most favored, rebirth, eternal-”

When his inner eye opened to see, the smell of rotting blue candy filled the interrogation room, the scent of his rot and greed made me wanton and ready. I had waited a long time for him, too long. “Speak then my love, speak and see.”

The light above us dimmed, his eyes went wide as he stared into the cloud of me. He saw the reality of me in his deepest nameless self and he began to gibber. “Mouths, touch me, so many t-tentacles. Mother. Lover. I am a son of Sarnath, please, I want to come home.” I nodded, “go make preparations and have your partner take me home. I will wait for you in the Black Wood.”

At home the boys were waiting, my beloved children. When they gathered at Black Wood, they stood rapt. I stood before my sweetlings, watching their true forms flicker under the sodium vapor lights and encroaching fog. I stood before my beloveds and raised my arms.

“My children, my beloved dark young. I return to you with glad tidings. I have found my gof’nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath. He shall come here to Black Wood and I will swallow him with my soiled mouth and birth him and he shall live ever after, father, lover, penitant. A new Capra hircus. And unto me, you my loves, my dark young shall spread the joy of worship to the world, we will turn this vile plaece into the shores of ever welcoming Hastur.”

My children, my thousand young began to shed their human skins, more of them crept from the ruins of the projects on the next block, they rose from the gutters, their calls rose into the air on the reek of the open grave. And as they called their impending victory, I could hear the voice of my mother, “Ole ‘livia, my outer goddess, -that held death and love so closely together.”

Writing Exercise #7

Inspired by a comment by beloved Christopher Ropes on fb.

Everyone watches One. One is flash and startling beauty, One is unearthly, clearly one of Gods chosen. One is a tropical bird, a dart frog, the creature that looks predators in the eye and shakes their ass and says, why don’t you try me? One is wild, feral and so good at their job. Most misunderstand the flamboyant beauty of One, they feel lusty heat, avaricious desire, they want One, they want to possess One, One is the aspirational violent dream made flesh. 

Two no one watches. Two is, Two is nice. Two looks friendly, Two is a nice word on a slightly inconvenient day, Two is steady and solid. Two speaks gently, Two is the gentle “hi guys” no one hears when One is on display. Two is normativity and comfort. Two is the one you hold hands with at the Famer’s Market on Sunday, Two is the craving for solace and light in winter. 

Together, they are completion. One does their job, shining bright- a whirlygig to bring them running. One flirts, One oozes and glitters, stirs desires until it is time. One leaves them wanting, leaving on a gust of heat that strokes the skins of the most desirous, the most covetous. They want One, they follow One even as they hear the little, “hi guys”. One shines, One shouts, One is the hot wet ichorous concupiscence no one can forget. One is the poison flower, to hold prey. 

Two sees, Two can taste the moment. Their voice, so usual, cute but not over so, familiar, warm enough to encourage the flicker of a smile that fades as the prey beholds One. Two, knows when One has them, and while they are enchanted Two gets to work.  

“Hi guys.” 

When they hear Two, it is already over. One has left them ripe, fecund and ready. In their locus of desire they find comfort in Two. Until they look into those eyes, the friendliness drains and takes all hope at heat and life with it. Two is the teeth, Two is the danger, Two is jovial death come to feast. And all at the last, every one of them would dream of One while the last thing their wretched minds know is that familiar little voice, “hi guys.” 

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