TELL ME, SYCORAX, of the time your heart was broken.
How it almost killed you.
How love itself decayed overnight like filet mignon
Left out on your kitchen table.
How flies gathered to buzz your rotting meat
Your heart meat
Your love offal.
Tell me of the bottomless pain in your chest
The razor sharp scissors of reality to your center.
How you turned to magick and witchcraft
To transform you out of your misery
To exact your revenge
How you sat for months in the botanica backrooms
With more seasoned Latinx brujas
learning, honing your abilities
Your plans for revenge.
Tell me of the spells you wrought
The hexes you spawned
How you drew your own blood with a flea market switchblade
The crimson rivulets that flowed from wrist to chalice
On those Mariachi midnights.
The thick burn of mezcal on your wounds,
Your tongue fat with chanting and prayer
With Marlboros and songs.
How it singed your innards
On those Summer nights in Texas.
Your body and soul engulfed
By the melancholy flames of forever.
Creating sigils, mixing tinctures
Conjuring saints, spirits,
anyone and anything to help ease the pain.
Tell me, Sycorax, how you conjured
The ghosts of Selena and Ophelia
How Selena, with electric wings and voice
attempted to ease your sorrow with songs
and held you, her broken sister
And sang, “bidi bidi bom bom” in your ear.
How Ophelia (who was taller and more powerfully built
than you imagined) appeared
In her diaphanous gown
drenched from her descent from that willow branch
How you said to her, “I thought you were fiction?”
How she replied, “I thought the same of you.”
Tell me, Sycorax, of your bruised heart
swollen and bleeding, nailed above the blue door
Of your consciousness
Like some throbbing crucifix
Your whole impossible existence hanging from a rusty nail
Tell me of your attempted suicide
How you drove to Matamoros and jumped in El Rio Bravo
How you wetbacked your spirit into damnation
On the banks of despair.
How your Americanized pig-sty soul
Was drenched by the river your grandmother crossed
that eventually led to you, wailing and crying
In the gringa nurses’ arms to here
now, wailing and crying again
The Mexicana- Americana tears of lost and unrequited love
congregating, flowing, dividing two countries
dividing your will to live and your longing for an end.
Tell me, Sycorax, how Selena and Ophelia
Cried and pleaded with you from either shore
Watching as you bobbed in the water like a cinnamon stick
until they sensed your will to live had won
how they pulled you to the Mexican side
and held you, wept, howled, laughed and chanted with you;
a triumfeminate coven of tragically wounded witches.
How they whispered and sang in your waterlogged ears
“Bidi bidi bom bom bidi bidi bom bom
And I of ladies most deject and wretched
That sucked the honey of his music vows
Blasted with ecstasy, oh, woe is me
T’have seen what I have seen, see what I see,
Cada vez, cada vez que lo veo pasar
Bidi bidi bom bom.”
Tell me, Sycorax, how you woke at your altar
wet and muddy, dazed and mumbling
how you opened your book of shadows and wrote,
“We are the dreams of the All, falling in love
with one another’s magnificence in spite of
our limitless capacity for avarice, violence and cruelty
and that, my sisters, is the real miracle of life.”
How you tore the page from your book
and set it aflame atop your black candle
and began writing again,
“Ovum, sanguis, cerebrum, aenima
Behold the girl, the woman
Being born again and again.”
2016 was certainly a very weird, very dark section of time-space, so it’s no surprise that a lot of the weirder, darker pieces we published here this past year attracted so many eyeballs. The 10 most-viewed pieces on flapperhouse.com in 2016 were…
#10. “Doodlebug” by Emily Linstrom is a haunting tale about a family of monstrous immortals hiding out in “a part of London even London has no recollection of…” (From our Spring 2016 issue.)
I WAS DRIVING a yellow Monte Carlo with a dark blue door
on the passenger side.
It had diamond tuck and roll interior
with eye of Horus buttons.
The prince of darkness asked me for a ride
to the corner store.
He was out of Kools and matches.
He wanted a Pepsi.
He looked like a Hispanic Toshiro Mifune.
He wore silver mirrored sunglasses,
a Foghat T-shirt,
black Levis and baby blue
“Let’s roll, papi” he said
and tapped the blue door
with his fingernails,
long metallic grey talons.
I could hear him drumming along
to the song on the radio:
“The Cisco Kid,” by War.
“So what should I call you?” I asked.
“My name is Lucifer but they all call me Chato,”
he said in a low voice, sweet as raw honey.
He was sucking on a blue glow-in-the-dark lollipop,
it crackled and hissed when he took it out of his mouth.
His tongue, an electric eel, undulated and sparked.
He smiled like Conrad Veidt as he hummed.
His slick black hair was combed straight back, perfectly.
Behind the whites of his eyes were miniature angels
screaming and weeping, mouths agape
like mimes in an invisible box.
Their wings, ashen and fluttering like moths.
Tiny holy prisoners behind Chato’s eyes.
We’d like to stir a big bubbling cauldron of gratitude for everyone who helped make Reading #7 such a bewitching evening: Kailey, Mary, Shawn, Darley, Dorothy, Ilana, Ron and Luis for performing your flappy lits; Pacific Standard for continuing to be the best bar in all of New York to host a reading; Alibi Jones for your scintillating singing & lovely photography; and all you gorgeous cats & kittens who came down to get spellbound. Let’s do this again, say, around the next Solstice…
(photos by Alibi Jones)
Kailey Tedesco reads some of her magical poetry, including “How Often We Confuse Ovens for Rabbit Holes”
Mary Breaden keeps the witchy vibe alive with some spooky short fiction
THE NIGHT, THE NIGHT The long blue forever
Of the goddamned night
Flayed my heart wide open
With its hour-long blades.
It lay there butterflied down the center
Like an inside-out raven,
The bleeding love muscle
With its twisted dishrag ghosts
Galloping forth from my chest
Across the razor-fanged chasm
Of my indigo eggshell
Of a room
Clogging the silver gears
Of the moonlight’s machinery
With the bulky sinews
Of my nightmares
The cosmic clock jammed the brakes
At two twenty-three AM.
And as I waded in the murky waters
Of Lake Oblivion
Fishing for hope
With my inside-out heart
Baiting a golden hook
Crooning to lure salvation
From its platinum fortress
A headless angel hovered above me
Skywriting in phosphorescent
WAS IS NOT IS
I stumbled to the slippery shore
Of Lake Oblivion and drifted
Off to sleep
As the headless angel
Careened out of sight
Leaving an exclamation mark
Of Chernobyl green smoke
WHY DIDN’T YOU RETURN MY HOWLS Last night
Under the moon’s silver chains
And pink undergarments?
Were you busy? Were you washing
Your hair in the tears
Of half-assed Romeos
In the unrequited evening?
I was there
Under your balcony
Wearing a green snake-skin
suit that I bought
from the Our Mother of Holy Agony
Thrift store on the corner of
Mistake and Trust.
While standing there
And howling, I could see
The sign of the manufacturer
Of the fire escape under your window.
Stamped into the cold dark steel:
I stood there for hours with
A love poem I had written
The night before on a napkin
From our favorite Chinese restaurant.
I had planned on reciting it
To you, at midnight
But it was too late.