she did the tasks every day
the cleaning of ash from the hearth
the sweeping of leaves in the parlor
the clearing of vines from the walls
the sorting of shells that the sea had swept in
the freeing of moths from the bedroom

slowly the house began to return to its former state
a pale gray villa carved with roses
pink marble floors
pale blue ceilings starred with crystals
murals of cherubs and clouds
bed fit for a prince
wardrobe of shoes made of glass

all of this, it does not save her
eventually everything
will still become ash

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once i wanted to sleep in an eggshell
live in a nest
sip dew from a petal
hide in your pocket as you suggested
wings folded up
smashed against your beating
i could walk the lines in your palm like a maze
roll through the meadow of your hair
hang around your neck like a charm
that was before
you married someone regular-sized (though slim)
and had two children

your students liked my books
to them i wasn't a thumb
now occasionally some of mine will say
"when i met you i was surprised
you are such a regular person"
i never know quite how to take this
(i think they are referring to messy hair
worry lines, dust bunnies beneath the couch)
but at least they didn't expect me to be tiny, did they?

when i finally find the real "you"
he'll be able to look me in the eye
we'll stand side by side
he won't be afraid of my body
changed by two large babies
he'll be able to take
all of me

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and the beast

i dreamed of three beasts in a cage
anger, lust and jealousy were their names
somehow they escaped and prowled
around my feet their growls
made my bones shake
i could not run so instead
i bent and spoke
in softest tones
soon they nuzzled me like pups

next i was in a sea
caught far out, where the shore?
strange prehistoric birds swam by
with terrifying glinting eyes
in which were mirrored
every fear
one a burning tower
from which bodies flew like ash
one a disease of mutant cells
one a child
with x-ed out eyes

i've tamed many creatures, many beasts
but not
every one
not each

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trapped in a small glass box
tattoo blue ink on my skin
a closet full of missing shoes
and pairs that crushed my bones
destroyed my feet
dust and crumpled silks and sweaters
an empty page
a blank canvas
a pond clogged with dead weeds and the bones of fish
yellowing grass
a dripping faucet
the sound of her voice no longer in my ears
no music at all
no dancing in the living room
no dancing
food without taste
her, gone
ashes unscattered
still in their urn
we're afraid to touch them

grief is the underworld
persephone's realm
a single pomegranate seed
life without demeter
did anyone think
that the daughter might have grieved too
even with hades to fill her
and mine comes so briefly
mother, mother
under the ground
she would say
is where the seeds begin

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i was forced to live in the hotel lobby
the carpet was scratchy, red and gold
wood-paneled walls and the smell of smoke and drinks
no place for a baby!

(i think i remember something else
something having to do with shallow water rushing
over stones? green daisies floating and a hillock
with a door? the smell of rain cupped in petals
music like the wind
playing her silver hair
someone i loved
someone who loved

but in that lobby
without rain or wind or any
thing you could call music
one lady fought revulsion
and took pity on me
big and pale with my bobble head
swollen, half blind eyes
and an old man's voice

she carried me upstairs
lay me on the bedspread and dressed me
then she fed me from a bottle
though i made her queasy

she knew she had to learn compassion
i'm that part of her she hates
ugly, weak, abandoned
severed from my illumined world
not loveable apparently

but someone has to do it

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The Fortune Teller

the fortune teller told me i had one big project that would never come to fruition until i gave up hope. of course every time i suspected it would come to fruition i realized it would not (if the fortune teller was correct.) i was too hopeful! she was a dark-browed woman in a smoke-filled room. it said "psychic" in pink neon out in front.
i'm still waiting.

the fortune teller said that o. and i were married in another life, medieval times. said psychic was blond and beautiful and charged me lots of money. i wrote a poem, i thought i could remember everything--the linen sheets, the hearth, the cottage in the woods. i took these things to mean that we were destined, o and i, that we loved each other now. until his estranged wife came to visit and they spent two weeks at the beach. getting henna tattoos, staying in his one-bedroom apartment and not speaking to anyone else, not even her new boyfriend. especially not me.

on our first date, at the crystal store, the fortune teller told me and b that we were sisters in another life. the fortune teller was a tall young man who lapsed into old southern woman voice when he told his tales. my heart stirred, imagining the possibilities (though b was freaked) and b and i had dinner, did a little dance, he bought me bangles bright with flowers. but we saw each other only once again. if you don't count the time i checked his facebook page and found he was engaged. (i was not his maid of honor!)

the fortune teller is a lovely mom with tarot cards. she told me that my soul mate? he'd come soon. that he'd be young and fair with an interest in music and the spirit. that even though you're dark skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed, with a dark-beard growing on your face, those times you stayed up all night long to work, you might be him. you might be

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for k.s.

this is no fairy tale
this is a thirteen year old girl
who took her life
this is my daughter crumpling like silk when she hears
this is my son freezing like ice when he hears
this is my friend who sobs on the phone
"she was my kid's age"
this is my son hitting the mattress
"i hate myself"
this is my daughter closing the door
this is the wasteland
this is the void
this is the burning
this is the truth

this is us standing
at the far end of the road
of any semblance of healing

this is me wanting to hold your soul in my hands
like a newborn

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Rose White Rose Red (for s and r)

i was rose white twice
both times rose red was black haired
much more beautiful than i

rose 1. painted lilies
emerging from the dark like candles
we ate sushi in the shapes of flowers
she studied medicine, got all a's
her smooth eyelids
her runner's thighs
her feral grin
i was so young and scared
there was nothing to fear
she might have saved me
if i'd let her

rose red 2. was a poet and musician
we giggled on her bed in her tiny house
way up in the canyon
wearing only bras
we were always dressed in see-through shirts those days
dancing together
to 80's songs in our own small dark club as if no one else was there
attending shows of neon lights and electronic sounds
galleries filled with art i didn't understand
i was always hot it seemed
we were always sweating
trying to cool the back of our hair-strewn necks
in the night air

i should have kissed rose red both times
instead i lost myself
to the devouring

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and would like to contribute a donation to the faerie cottage fund, please contact me at for a paypal link love flb

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i was sold to the devil for gold 1.
i gave up my hands for my father 2.
i gave up his wealth to go wander 3.
i gave up my freedom
for one gold skinned pear 4.
i gave up my child for a changeling 5.
i gave up my life for my child 6.

i gave up my kingdom for forests 7.

i gave up my king for an angel 8.
i gave up my hands made of silver 9.
for hands made of flesh, made of bone

1. the devil had braided haunches stuck with burrs, steely hooves, a tail like a bramble and horns bursting forth from his forehead as if they hurt him. he saw me by my father's apple tree, pink and white as apple blossoms, and wanted to take a bite.
2. the devil would have killed my father when he would not give me up so i offered my hands instead. the devil cut them off at the wrist with a cleaver. my own tears stopped the bleeding and the stumps healed up like doorknobs.
3. my father became rich and offered me a room in his big house and a servant to clean and feed me, forever like a child. but instead i set off into the world with a sack on my back and my two polished stumps.
4. in a gated garden i saw a pear tree. on it hung a pear the color of spun gold. my mouth watered--i had not eaten in a day. i stood on tiptoe to reach it with my mouth. the king saw me and took me in. he was rich and handsome with large appendages. he forged me hands of silver because a king cannot marry a girl with missing parts. i became his wife.
5. the devil stole my child and put in his place an elflocked fae.
6. in order to save the changeling i had to leave in exile, never to return.
7. with my child i came into the forest redolent with sap and mulch and the dark trickle of secret waters among the roots. here we found an abandoned cottage made of willow branches and here we lived.
8. the angel who found us here is tall as a tree and his hands are like wings. his skin is dark of hue. his smile a pearl necklace. he has no money in his pockets. he has no pockets. he brought me pears and water. he helped me feed my child.
he loves my strange-eyed boy, changeling or not.
9. the angel wept upon my silver hands
and they became
hands of flesh and bone

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