To Free Yourself

 I’m sitting in the kitchen sink.

 Some rags, twisted and corded like sundried snakes, sit beside me and I’d like it if one of them was long enough so I could string it to the light fixture on the ceiling, hang myself and get this charade over with, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t do that to the kids.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.  Not that Duane would miss me a whole lot.  He keeps telling me I’ve let myself go to hell.

 “Why don’t you take those damn wedding pictures down?  Aren’t you ashamed when people come over and wonder who that is?”

I don’t know how I got here.  They say no little girl imagines herself growing up being a prostitute.  No one dreams of being homeless.  I sure didn’t figure on ending up this way, as this version of me.  Yeah, I guess this is me: Darlene Rosemary Schadle Hockaday.

How did I even get in this sink?  Blackout?  My butt’s so big that I’m stuck now.  Kids are fishing with their daddy.  When Duane gets back he’ll probably keel over from laughing.  Bet he’ll say, “I’ma leave you there till you lose enough weight to free yourself.  How’s that for a homemade diet?”

Duane thinks he’s witty, a card, thinks I don’t know about Lila and the reasons why he started trimming his beard and nose hair.  The poem I found broke my heart, not because it was about her, but because it was beautiful.

Don’t think I can’t see you there, Mr. Butcher Block with your black-handled knives.  I do.  I know I could grab the longest and shove it through my chest and be on my way home to meet my maker or the other guy that runs the hot springs.

Come to think of it, I will have me one of those knives.  It’s a stretch—it’s always a stretch when you’re my size—but I reach over and get a big blade.  I don’t even think about it, just set to work right quick because I know if I hesitate I’ll plumb chicken out.

My housecoat rips apart easily, like toilet paper.  It’s the meat around my hips that gives me fits, that hurts like hell, but even still I’m committed.  The blood comes in rivers.  I don’t care.  I wince.  I slice and saw.  When I’m done there’s a real mess to clean, yet it feels good in a queer sort of way, having freed myself.

By Len Kuntz

Margaritas and Razor Blades: After Five Porno for Skeptics

Tonight I am meeting a man who calls himself Oblivion. It’s not really a date, and I am not exactly sure what I am going to say to him, if I need to say anything to him at all. I wasn’t afraid in so many unsaid words, but I was reticent, as one should be when one is finally going to get to look into the black hard gaze of the man who plans to leverage your soul. He was a collector: vomit, hair, toenail clippings, even menstrual blood. This time he said he wanted bone right down to the marrow. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go that far, but he’d called it in, and so I didn’t really have a choice. I put some lipstick on my cigarette while he just watched me cross and uncross my leather-clad legs. We sat like that for hours before anything was said, before the terms of our arrangement were acknowledged, which he did so by showing his mettle. The hard edge caught in my eye as the grubby bar light glinted off it when he pulled it out of the little black satchel at his feet along with a pair of florescent orange nitrile gloves. “For the cavity search,” he said with a platinum grin. Didn’t want to just spring it on me like that, but his internet connection had gone down last night before we’d had a chance to finish our little chat. The thread had just gone dead, and I thought that was how it was supposed to be. “No contact,” he’d typed as his last words. People are strange when it comes to what they think they own. I’d always thought what I possessed was mine, in a physical sense. I didn’t believe that anymore. The first time we met, he’d reshuffled my thoughts on all this with a butane torch and a nail gun. He was going to save me from myself so that I didn’t just end up a body inside a suitcase tossed in swamp one day. “Did you bring it?” he asked, and I handed him the plastic baggie of leftover motel soap. He wanted to know that I was clean, wanted to see my pubic hair stuck to the crusted-over lather. He would use it to wash the blood off his gloves later. The first couple of times, I felt a little disappointed that he wouldn’t touch me without the gloves, but he said he never took anything for granted. He didn’t want to taint me with his scent or his flesh. “I don’t want to love you or rape you,” he said. “I simply want to slit your fucking throat.”

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

But I Thought You Loved Me

I liked it when you said the thought of killing
someone got you hot that it gave you an instant
hard-on and it made me so wet and I couldn’t get
you inside me fast enough I had to have you
thrusting that knife into me and give me everything
you’ve got just the feel of your cock in my pussy and
your breath on my neck and your hands on my tits
fingers pinching my nipples so hard I could scream
and the thought of you taking a human life bringing me
thismuchclosertocumming and your hands were on my
neck around my neck and squeezing like a fucking boa
constrictor and then when they got tighter and tighter
I realized how serious you were about killing someone
only I had no idea at all that it
was me

By Cynthia Ruth Lewis

Two by Valentina Cano

Firebird in Captivity

These works of fire you dangle

above me are losing their ashy feathers.

The crinkling edges bend and wave

in the sighing light.

You shake your head like a towel,

giving me dryness and warmth

as I dance on cushions throughout

our empty rooms.


The table catches quick fire.

I think it’s the first that cradles the heat

as the chairs crackle around,

a gaggle of woodchips flapping away.

You wave your arm like trimmed wings

and feed the flames invisible seeds.

I swing my ax of hair

and laugh as it sizzles like meat.



With a tail whip

the fire created a trench between us

a quickening thread of angry particles.

I bent as the heat brushed

my face with its fins,

and you paced in front of me

as if the air was clawing inside you.

This is bad, I know.

Your ruffled hair,

 shadowed by smoke,

is no longer a wonder for me.

I cannot find myself shining

under your cellophane skin.

We have spread apart,

gaunt as fish hooks,

dripping blood from a toothed fight,

eyes like creatures from the deep.

By Valentina Cano