The Keeper

swearing cheapens everything

it fucking does

I went away to practice my elocution

why do you have to sexualize everything

you’re the one who insisted on the mountains

the snow like cream

the foothills dank with fir

sappy air that ignites when you snap your fingers

such danger

much fear

I went to practice elocution

the shape of words and

the morals

to every fairytale

eat the apple: sleep a thousand years unchanged

then fuck a prince

“so what’s the catch?”

(2023)

Have I written any poems this year?  I keep posting old poems to Insta because I’m lazy and I need content. I don’t write poetry with any diligence. Only when the words need to be poems and not my standard prose. 

But I went to an indie book fair yesterday.  Everyone in my town is a poet or knows a poet.  Pretty, pretty books everywhere. This is what I bought:

A photo of two books laying on a desk.  The book on the left is “Poetry is Queer” by the author Kirby. It has a light purple cover with a picture of a surreal phallic shape outlined by white buttons and filled in with googly eyes. This shape is passing through a circle of white buttons.  The book on the right is “Dream Rooms” by River Halen.  The cover is mainly black with bold white text and a colourful photo of hundreds of pieces of discarded chewing gum.  Both books are very, very queer.

Why choose?

Reverse Harem and the (r)evolution of Romance writing

If you aren’t an avid ebook reader, it’s likely you’ve never heard of the genre, which has begun to call itself “why choose” because algorithms are prurient snitches. Yet it’s the strongest trend in self published romance, with no signs of slowing down.

It is also an astonishing indicator of where culture is headed. Because two out of every five ebooks sold are romance, and reverse harem tropes are EVERYWHERE.

So what the heck is it? Nothing more or less than a romance story where the heroine gets ALL the boys. Without having to choose between them, favoring one and only one. Without lying or cheating, with the consent of all the men, which is perhaps the most fantastical aspect of the genre, that three or more cis-het guys could get over their egos enough to get along with their partner’s metamour.

OK so what the heck is a metamour?

It’s the point at which the Why Choose genre gets really interesting. Because, pardon me if I’m wrong, but this is polyamory. A metamour is your lover’s lover. Not your competition, just “the other person who loves the same person as me.”

Meaning the strongest trend in romance writing is a vigorous, fun-loving, open-hearted repudiation of the nuclear family. One of the lynchpins of Western society, blamed repeatedly (and quite sensibly) for maintaining women’s inferior status. Less than half a decade ago, women in the US were being arrested for wearing pants. A wife needed her husband’s permission to open her own bank account. The assumption was nearly universal that all women wanted was safety. That women weren’t sexual, weren’t interested in freedom in being their own person, in existing for any reason besides replicating DNA aka having babies.

Oh, my sweet summer child…

That has never been enough. And hear me out, this is not some Sandberg gaslighting about how every woman miraculously can have it all aka a high paying high pressure job as well as a functional marriage, happy children, and time enough to seek personal meaning. Such women usually have nannies. And they are frequently miserable. The women, not the nannies, though I reckon a fair few of them are less than thrilled with what often functions like a sort of indentured servitude.

This is of course not universal. But that’s the point. Women want different things. Women can finally have what they want. And yes, RH is a book trend. It isn’t a sign of the death of marriage. But it is certainly a sign that the Overton window has shifted hugely in the direction of even more freedom for women. And for men, who must bear the brunt of being denied softness, emotionality, compassion. Who are taught they must defend their tiny tribe against an entire world which wants them dead. Truth is, the world usually isn’t paying attention. Truth is, modern marriage isn’t a siege state. Wives are not chattel, nor are they princesses, to be kept in a tower and denied the world.

Women are raw, and horny, and also nice and pretty and kind, but still red-blooded, salivating, alive. And we are tired of being told what to do.

There is a world filled with possibilities. Even it’s only words on a page or a screen. A world where women get exactly what they want, and men are happy for it to happen. So come on over! Sometimes the grass really is greener even once you’ve hopped the fence.

WHAT RUINED ME Episode 7: ‘The Story of the Eye’ by Georges Bataille

I read this little book on the advice of Björk, and my scandalous older boyfriend who had a serious crush on Björk. To judge from modern reviews, it is still extremely divisive, with many considering it irredeemable trash, and others suggesting it’s wholly allegorical, though that may be a wildly optimistic reading of what is at its heart a very filthy book.

What’s interesting (read: strange and a little frightening) to me now was that on first reading, not a bit of it seemed deviant. Of course the main character lifted her skirt and sat in a saucer of milk within five minutes of meeting the narrator. Of course they abducted a beauty, then drove her out of her mind. Of course they went to Spain and… For those who know what happens by the end, you may wonder how I read the whole thing and barely flinched. I have theories, some of which I’ve illuminated in prior posts.

France wanted to hang Bataille for a while. I blew my college teacher’s mind by even owning a copy of the book, which she borrowed from me. I think I might have made her a mixed tape, but socially, not romantically. Oh, the ’90s.

If memory serves, I bought the book at The Mystic Bookshop, the source of many outrageous ideas and my philosophical oasis growing up in a very staid city in a fairly conservative part of the world.  Thanks, Mystic Mike (as we called the snackable indie boy who worked there) and the whole Mystic crew for letting me spend hours thumbing through Re/Search books I could never afford to purchase.

The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille. YMMV.

WHAT RUINED ME Episode 6: A pack of Chippendales playing cards

a muscular man's bare torso reflected in a shadowy mirror

Not only because it was fifty-two images of nearly naked men, but because I stole it from my mother’s sock drawer and brought it to school to show my schoolmates.  If I could have only stayed that popular when I changed schools the following year…I might not be writing this sardonic internet commentary about the fleetingness of fame and my propensity for causing trouble.

I got away with it that time, and returned the cards to my mother’s drawer.  It’s so long ago, but there are faint memories of creeping into her room to revisit the cards.  Much of a muchness, fifty-two oiled torsos, numerous thighs, and in the centre of each, a satin or leather-clad implication of what men were really like.   

I knew so few men in those days. My parents had separated and my father lived overseas. My mother didn’t date and had a modest social circle, and so my interactions with adult men were limited to teachers.  Growing up, attraction and response were a muddle.  I was almost always surprised when someone kissed me. I almost always chose to kiss them back.  

There’s a specific absence in my upbringing.  When others were being warned off sex, being taught it was vile, evil, degrading, dangerous, I learned nothing.  This hasn’t harmed me over the long term, though I have made some spectacularly bad decisions.  People who learn to fear sex also make bad decisions, and hate themselves while doing so.  Between the two, I know what I’d choose.

WHAT RUINED ME Episode 5: A copy of Fetish Times

closeup of a woman's back, tied with hemp shibari ropes

There was that time I was coming down after a semi-licit rave at a downtown ballet studio.  I’d only just met the woman whose apartment we were in, though she knew some of my friends. It must have been spring, for the room was full of sunlight.

The woman was a dominatrix. Messily beautiful, twice my age. I am quite sure that if she tried to fuck me I would have said yes. Instead I read the magazine Fetish Times.

It was 1994. The internet was barely a word. No smartphones, no cameras, no 3.5 million search results and nothing to Google it from (sorry Netscape, you did your best.) We still called it cyberpunk, for fuck’s sake.  Then adolescent me picked up one of western culture’s strangest artefacts and the bottom dropped out of the world. Thanks to the imprinting effects of psychedelics, there was no coming back.

I was appalled. I read it cover to cover. No one noticed. They talked about San Francisco in the 1980s, about tweakers on roller-skates and failed revolutions. I read about…stuff.

Why do we want it so weird? Who told me to ask my first lover to pour hot wax on me, the third time I ever had sex?  That was before I’d seen the magazine. He asked what I wanted and that’s what I wanted.  We were barely dating. I just went to his house to fuck. To smoke hash. To read his mind-bendingly seditious books and fantasise about changing the world.

Am I ready?

Are you?

“Is This Seat Taken?”

a woman's beautiful bare legs as she sits in an easy chair by the window

So: your boyfriend who has family connections to your MBA supervisor invites you to an anonymous orgy. You want to go, because you like to fuck, so much that you agree, despite the fact that you will know probably half of the people there. But you try on the expensive mask he had made which really does cover your face well, a tight fitting cap of blood-red leather that extends to the base of your nose and conceals your hair. You look, in the mask and nothing else, totally gorgeous, a fact he tells you continually as he fucks you from behind, watching himself in the mirror over your shoulder. He is not wrong, and thinking of all the other men who will fuck this gorgeous masked woman, you come, shaking so hard he pulls out, thinking he’s hurt you somehow.

Idiot, you think again.

Yet you go to the party. The orgy. You wear the mask and a garter belt and stockings and heels and a long coat and nothing else. He has waxed not just his pubes but his chest, striding about in leather pants with a tear-away crotch. You spend very little time together, because the pants make you laugh, and as a designated sub that’s the kind of disrespect that earns you a shift in the stocks.

You like getting spanked. You do not like humiliation, being hung out for anyone to torment. Too many of the older men who dominate this scene fall back on that trope, one more reason why you are sitting alone in the back corner of the mansion’s front parlor, wondering if it’s possible to ghost on an orgy.

“Is this seat taken?” Before you answer the man sits down anyway on the other end of the little couch. “I just gotta relax for a bit.” He flops back, breathing hard, his half-hard cock laying against his thigh.

You check him out, because it’s that kind of party. A black beaked mask, Dread Pirate Roberts with a hint of Plague Doctor. The fit body of a dedicated college athlete keeping his shit together. No gray hair in the pubes. Who is he?

“Is the master enjoying his evening?”

“Don’t do that master stuff. You can just talk to me. And I don’t know. Yes and no. I’m thinking about going home.”

Ask me. You blush, because no matter how many dicks your boyfriend lets you have here and now, he will not lend his subs. He has told you so himself, because so many in his clique have asked to fuck you. Asked him, not you.

“Me too,” you say. The plague pirate turns to look directly at you, and you shiver, because the mask is only half of his menace, the rest in his dark eyes that seem to swallow you.

“I want your number,” he says.

“Okay. How—”

“I’ll remember it. And if I don’t, it’s my fault, right?”

“Okay.” You tell him your number.  He says it back to you. “You got it.”

“Does your boyfriend, sorry, master, read your messages?”

“God, no.”

“Good.” He stands up and stretches.  Like the slut you are, you stare at his erection.

“Are you leaving?” you ask.

“Yep.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to—”

He turns to you, and you shiver again under his dark gaze. “Not here. I want you paying attention.”

“Oh.”

He winks and walks away. His ass is amazing.

“Who was that?” your boyfriend asks as he approaches.

“I don’t know.”

“What did he want?” He is fiddling with his detachable crotch again. You do not love him. Now you know that you do not like him either.

 “Nothing.”

“Really?”

 “I’m getting one of those headaches.  Do you have any idea where my coat is?”

(2020)

“The call is coming from inside the house…”

an erotic close-up of someone's bare throat under gold lights

Writing erotica is not like writing romance. When sex is at the core of the writing, the rest of the plot serves mainly to create situations where people will want to have it. The sex becomes the plot, and the way it unfolds creates the narrative. Are the characters happy? Guilty? Excited? Fearful? Do they feel good about it at the start then realize as soon as fur hits fur that, oh shit, this is a very bad idea? Or the opposite, warming to the notion the further they pursue it?

While it is popular to add an erotic gloss to another genre (Erotic Thriller, Erotic Horror) this is sometimes like adding sprinkles to ice cream: delicious, but it could have been great without it. In pure erotica, in which sex is the main thrust (hur hur) of the plot, who is the villain?  More to the point, who is even a plausible antagonist in an erotica narrative? The protagonist’s parents? Their social circle? Ex-lovers? These are certainly options, and in a romance-first erotic story, one expects the hero to fight-for-the-right-to-love with another well-defined character.

Love, romance, sexual desire: do we need an external antagonist to narrate these facets of our lives, when the villain of our own sexual stories is so rarely external? The struggle is most often within your own mind, between your consciously constructed desire and your history, beliefs, triggers, and unstated, unconscious, icky longings that you ought not to share but can never deny. So few of us feel perfectly safe in our sexual selves. Always we doubt, whether our own ability to give and receive pleasure, or to withstand humiliation after the fact. When we struggle with our feelings about sex, more often than no, we fight ourselves.

This is the nature of erotica. External threats only matter if they change the protagonist’s understanding of themselves and their approach to sex. The villain doesn’t need to be embodied as a person.  It can be whatever it is that keeps the erotic hero from fulfilling their sexual destiny.  We don’t need to see the betrayal to feel the agony of the struggle.

Indeed, to put the villain in the story can rob it of its sexual pleasure. To frame an abuser, even an absent one, as the antagonist can rob an erotic story of its liberating influence, by making it more about the hurt than the recovery. At its heart, erotic literature is about freedom, about expressing parts of the self not ordinarily permitted. The process of denial is not always important to the plot. We all know that story. What we want from erotica is the getting free.

No Holiday Inn

You helped him battle cancer. He left you for his nurse.

Three years later, you have no fucks to give. You lost the forty pounds from stress eating and gained fifteen of muscle. Your thighs could crush beer cans, as they do in your act now and then.

You dance under the name Bodacia, as in Boadicea, as in the rebel queen of the ancient Britons, but no one ever gets the joke. Who cares, when you make bank like you do. Private parties are not out of the question, with big tips if you do the beer can trick.

Three years later, and he finally walks in, and though you said you didn’t give a fuck, the minute you see him, you know that you do. You don’t want him back. Not for all the money on earth. What you want is to make him suffer.

You go on again in an hour. You’re thinking about what flourish you’re going to add to your dance to really turn him on. That’s when the best dressed guy in his group—not him—signals to you. Come here, the crooked finger says, and you do, because he looks like money.

“What’s your name?” Money asks when you’re sitting across the table from him.

“Bodacia.”

“So I guess I shouldn’t mention I’m Italian,” Money says, waggling his dark brows over his dark eyes.

“Depends. Are you Roman or Sicilian?” You glance at Kevin who is staring at you, his face screwed up like it’s hurting him to figure out how he knows you, just because you cut your hair and lost some weight and crossed to the other side of decency. That’s why he deserves to suffer, more than anything he did to you. Because you’ve heard his rant about strippers, and here he is, staring at someone he knows inside and out, unable to remember your name because now you’re one of those women.

“Neither. Straight Hoboken,” Money says.

“Then we got no beef. You gentlemen having fun tonight?”

“Could be better. What’s it take to get some time alone with you?”

“Depends on how alone.”

“Well, only one guy in this group is getting married, but he’s not paying for any of this, so what do you say you and him and me go somewhere quieter?”

You mention a price. Money doesn’t blink, and you wish you’d asked for more, but it’s still a whopper and you and him and Kevin stand up.  Of fucking course.

“You’re the first one to ever know who I’m named for,” you tell Money as him and your ex-husband follow you into the Lava Room.

“I’m full of that kind of useless shit,” Money says. “My parents overpaid for my education.”

“Sure beats the alternative.”

“Touché. Speaking of, what’s the line?”

“As in, can you touche moi? I don’t usually hit the panic button, but if anyone undoes their fly, he’ll get charged with indecent exposure.”

“So you’re saying there’s cameras, but…”

You slowly lift your arms, pushing out your tits as you reach back and undo the snap of your halter neck. You let the ends go and the men both catch their breath at the sight of your naked breasts. Money he might be, but he is still your puppet.

Kevin knows. Because of that tattoo, the tiny little heart between your breasts, now smudgy with time. He wants to speak, has nothing to say, can’t make the two of you, the old you and the new you, be the same you. Suffering.

Your breasts loose, your white dress so tight it stays up on its own, you pick a few tracks, fix the lights. The men are whispering to each other. “I told you, it’s not about the money,” Kevin hisses.

“Well, I’m staying,” Money says so you can hear it, “so make up your mind. I don’t want to have to interrupt Her Majesty half way through whatever awesome thing she’s about to do.”

“If the gentleman likes, he can just watch. Maybe he’ll come around,”  you offer, indicating a chair off to the side as a stealthy beat begins to throb from the hidden sound system. Kevin moves, but you don’t pay attention, because he’s not paying, except with the head-fuck of watching you treat this other guy like he’s the love of your life.

Money, who doesn’t have a wedding ring, or a tan line, settles back in the squeaky vinyl chair. They make these chairs special, with broad, low arms that are easy to kneel on, which you do, straddling Money and leaning over him so your naked tits almost brush his face.

“This is already worth it,” he murmurs, his breath hot on your skin. You lean back, further, further, propping your hands on your legs as you arch your tits to the ceiling and point your waxed-today pussy at his handsome face. He can’t help but respond, his breathing getting heavier, hands twitching on his thighs as you lift yourself, curl back over him, bend low and this time let your nipples brush against his cheeks.

You dance to touch this power, this ability to intoxicate. This man wants to fuck you, would pay hundreds of dollars on the spot for the right to open his fly and stick his cock into you. Hundreds of men a week think the very same thing. They pay you with money, and with their attention, their lust your drug, their desire your motivation. This is how you are, most alive when you are wanted.

You climb off the chair and turn, bend, grab your own ass and squeeze till it hurts. You work it, pulling up your skirt by inches, revealing more and more of your ass, more of your juicy cleft, more for him to want. Between your feet you see his, twitching as he struggles. The bass drops, and so do you, jerk and snap your hips, your ass, imagining him in you, making his rhythm your own.

You wind. You shimmy, you squeeze out of your dress. You climb on and off the chair a hundred times, laying yourself across his lap without touching him, presenting each luscious part of you to him again and again, now and then making contact: your breast, your thigh against his cheek, your ass against his chest, his legs. You allow him to take off your thong, holding the top of the front while you stand your way up out of it.

Standing over the man you call Money, naked down to your stacked heels, you almost laugh. But the magic is strong, and instead you bend down then kneel then slide your knees forward until he’s breathing on your pussy.

“How much?” he whispers. “After. Later. I have to meet you again.”

“Do you have any idea how many men say that to me?”

“Five thousand dollars.”

“Hm. No one’s ever said that.”

“Please.”

“No one ever says that either.”

“Then—”

“Shut up and let me dance.”

Security cameras. Microphones. A gentlemen’s club, not a brothel, though those are legal in your state. The more he says, the bigger the problem for everyone. You swing your leg over his head, ride the arm of the chair, slapping your ass down and making him laugh. Kevin makes a weird sound. You haven’t looked at him this whole time, confident he was hating every minute. He makes the sound again, a whimper you know.

The jackass is masturbating.

Fully giving it, yanking and yanking, his head back, eyes closed. You want to do it, hit the button, call security, get him arrested, ruin his wedding, maybe his life. Instead you climb off the chair, walk calmly towards Kevin, who opens his eyes at the sound of your heels. Keeps jerking off.

You lean down and slap him, hard, and he finally stops. “Put your sorry dick away, and get the fuck out. If I ever see you in here again, I’m not going to call the cops, I’m going to get Terry at the front door to rip your balls off.”

“Do what the lady says, Kev.”

Kevin looks like he might cry, nose wrinkling, chin wobbling as he sticks his dick in his pants. You step back so he can get up. For a few seconds he stares at you, mouth flapping, no words coming out. Stares at your tits, your curving hips, your mound, a pink wedge of juicy and untouchable-to-him sex.

Money clears his throat, and Kevin’s head drops. He walks out, not looking back. Money snaps his fingers, and you turn around, climb back on the chair, lean close and whisper, sucking in the smell of him. “Pay for dinner and a hotel room. Nice shit, no Holiday Inn.”

“No money?”

“Sometimes a girl just wants someone to treat her right.”

WHAT RUINED ME Episode 3: ‘The Dinosaurs’ by William Stout

Before Chuck Tingle…

Before the bodice rippers…

There were these two dinosaurs.

No one means for their child to get their first lesson about the birds and the bees from an artful illustration of two Parasaurolophods in rut. It really is a very pretty picture, and the text casts animal behaviour in such a romantic light, as “(t)he pulse of their dark dissonance throbs in the air like a heartbeat.”

But it’s still two dinosaurs fucking.

The Dinosaurs is a spectacular book, a somewhat fanciful but wholly believable dive into the behaviour of this class of extinct animals: the births, lives, and deaths of dinosaurs. Service writes with the meticulously descriptive voice of an Attenborough documentary, and Stout’s art fairly leaps off the page, employing a wealth of media to show dinosaurs as they may have lived.

And on one page, dinosaurs fuck.

Do animals fuck? Or do we reserve that word for only one species i.e. ours?  It’s said that dolphins are the only species besides ours that has sex solely for pleasure, and not as a seasonally triggered biological imperative. Perhaps Mr. Service went overboard in attributing such tenderness to mating dinosaurs, but come on…those lizards are in love.