Sticky Fingers

I was just on the verge of coming out of sleep, just barely hearing the plinking of rain against the windows, when I heard the bedroom door open and close. Toddler-sized movement across the carpet floor. Early. I hoped she just wanted a snuggle. Could've done with about three more hours of sleep after the late service at the restaurant. Pure chaos last night, tickets stacked two deep at the pass. My hair still smelled like fryer grease.

"Pancakes, Daddy!" 

Well, the snuggle had been a nice thought, at least. Her tiny voiced declaration was punctuated by a small but very hard poke to my left arm. Ow. Unnecessary. I rolled over and cracked my eyeballs open to see a very formidable five year old standing next to the bed, clad in her favorite stripey pajama shirt with the squirrel and the possum on it. 

"Mel, c'mere, have a cuddle for a minute first…" I reached out a hand to her. "Come burrow?" I lifted the duvet up over my face and peeked over. "Like a... " I made a show of scrunching my face. "Like a penguin!" 

She giggled. "Penguins don't burrow, Daddy! Silly." She crossed her arms, staring at me rather severely. "You said pancakes last night. You SAID. I'm hungry." 

Kids don't let you get away with a single thing. I grumbled. "Okay." Immediate celebration to rival a Super Bowl touchdown: stomping feet, clapping hands, pigtails swirling around her head. "You go get me a cold coffee from the fridge and I'll go brush my teeth. Can't make pancakes with stinky bed breath!" 

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Kneading Instructions

Be gentle. 

Let the dough slide through your hands. 

Let your hands be grease-marked and slippery

Fish, gliding. 

Punch the dough down, not too hard. 

Massage your love into it, 

your want, your longing. 

Listen — what does it want? 

Wet your fingers under the tap, 

let the droplets dance across the craggy bundle. 

Not too much. 

You can always add more. 

Listen again. Wait. 

It'll smooth out, it always does. 

Put away all your rage and sorrow, 

those will keep. 

When it's time, bake. Sit. Think. 

Save a slice for loved ones passed. 

Wash your tools, breathe in yeast, 

and rejoice in what your hands have made. 

Wolf Comes Home

When I was a child, loose boned and dirt streaked, my mother told me that the wolves would come. When I was older, cattywampus and mooning, the first blood appeared between my legs. She said then, the wolves have arrived. Sent me out, into the winterfrosted woods with furs and a silken-sharp dagger, to meet the wolves that lived deep in me. Come back in three days, she said, giving me a shove from the welcome door. I stumbled over oak roots and scraped my knuckles on pine bark until the first day ended. I wrapped myself up and gnawed on squished berries, the pulse drumming low inside my hips. The moon hung on leaf skeletons, waiting. I waited too. The cold, the pulse, the warmth repeated. I thought, perhaps, that I would die. The dagger tempted with its shine. The cold, the pulse, the warmth. And then - bone marrow breath on my hair. A soft whine. A speckled paw. The wild curled up against my back and wagged their tail. I turned and caught a flash of eyes like the heart of springtime. A curled lip. You have fangs too, little one, they said to me. You too were built for ripping hearts and howling your victory. After three days, I reappeared at the welcome door, blood streaked and thrumming. I have met the wolves, I told my mother. They send their greetings. 

The Teakeeper and the Demon

The tinkling of the bell through the mid morning silence makes me startle. I drop the bag of genmaicha I'm weighing out. Half the bag spills out onto the tiled floor, and I curse under my breath. A Teakeeper shouldn't be so careless with such a delicate blend, but I'll just have to make my apologies later with the gentlest of broom sweeps. For now, I look up for the person who's caused my present distress and try to force a smile. After all, they're the first customer all day, I should be more grateful. They don't call out a familiar hello to me, so I make the customary half-bow with supplicant palms. "What can I get you? What tickles your sense of delight?" I ask. 

"It's not my sense of delight that needs tickling," says the person as they wind their way through the tight maze of shelving at the front of the shop. I can hear heavy boots on their feet and the swish of a long winter coat. They smell like feral brimstone, and I am old enough - wise enough - to feel a flicker of something like fear. I clear my throat. "Whose, then?" I ask as they come into view. 

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(no subject)

Boots crunching through leaves, 

a cathedral golden lit, 

branches in chorus. 

Perpetual change 

is the sermon of the day 

as I contemplate. 

Autumn's cape grows. 

The scent of incense rises. 

Burdens lift from me. 

I emerge later:

Nature's church will wait for me 

until next Sunday. 

LJ Idol - The Known Enemy

Through the summer haze 

Through the green of my drink 

Delicate as a luna moth's wing 

I see her stride in. 

Red hair as wild as an August sunset, 

Black boots echoing on the bar's tile floor: 

She, heralder of siren's call 

She, with a voice that sways and poisons, 

She, my undoer.

Our eyes meet. 

My hand chokes my sweating glass 

And the world swirls darkly 

Around the edges of my vision. 

My soul rises to perch on the upturned edge of her crimson smile. 

Once more I am awash in her soft and breathy hellos, 

Inhaling them like nag champa, head spinning. 

Once more I am consumed by how it ended, 

The memory of a sputtering candle spinning slowly on broken floorboards. 

I refuse to be that dying ember.

She will not put me out again. 

I stand and feel my heels sink down, grounding me, spine straightening. 

I take my heart back from the empty-sky blue of her eyes and tuck it safe under my arm. 

She will not put me out again. 

I pluck my soul back from her bloody lips like grabbing an old friend's shoulder. 

I feel my self slide home, behind locked doors that only I get to open. 

I feel my self burn bright, lighting up windows and rooms that have been dark for too long.

She will not put me out again. 

LJ Idol Week 4 - Impossible

'Gluten free milk stout 

Would be impossible on its own - 

Had to make a deal with the faeries

To get ours to taste full grown. 

If you look too close at the bubbles, 

You'll see tiny worlds floating in the beer 

Each one a work of art 

That carries a hint of danger near. 

Can't have too many of these, 

That's what the Fair Folk said - 

After all there's just a few worlds 

That can bubble up inside your head. 

Just two or three a night will do 

Until your laugh grows loud 

Laughter keep the Fair Folk at bay 

And makes us feel so proud!'

  • Marketing copy on the gluten free milk stout produced by Household Spirits. 

LJ Idol S11: Living rent free in your head

Candlelight flickered over the table laden with food. Honeyed apples, crackly-skin roast chicken, and a bright, peppery arugula salad, all in warm-colored stoneware bowls, dressed the old wooden boards right up. Kate tilted her wine glass in her hands gently, gazing at me with jasper eyes. "So you bought this bar because the entity in your head asked you to," she said in her flat way. She smirked. "Girl, when you gonna make that bitch pay you some rent for all the space she's taking up in there?" 

"To be fair, I invited her in," I said quickly, spooning apples onto my plate, followed by chicken breast. "So she's basically a house guest. She's not meant to pay rent." 

"And you think that's still a good idea?" Kate said, popping a forkful of chicken into her mouth. "Yum, by the way, as always." Chewing thoughtfully, she shook her head. "It's never ended well, you know. This whole host business. She's running you into some big trouble, and goddess knows these hands are too delicate to help you clean up that mess when it goes south." She put out her palms, softened from years of her milk and honey lotion, as proof. "So you've gotta have a backup plan, sweetie." 

"I feel more than capable of running a bar on my own," I said, stabbing my apples with perhaps more vigor than necessary. "Especially the kind of place she has in mind. No fanciness, no jiggers, just downhome, easy, and cool. I mean, I've been in the business for long enough, it should come naturally at this point." 

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