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Tag: short stories

Nettle Leaves

Found a nettle growing under a bridge. Start of summer, I was out looking for shards of your heart between the cobblestones.

A single nettle. Out of place. Like someone had set it down there and walked away. Sat on my haunches by it, feet pointing at Chimère St. and Byson across the canal. Reached out a hand as if picking a flower for a lover, gloveless. Held it between thumb and forefinger and anticipated the sting, brushing it up and down my underarm over the area where your tattoo goes. Expecting, in vain, the skin to react at all.


I walk the street to Leone avenue. There’s a lingerie shop on the corner
next to the Serbian café. I walk past men, thick
with hair on their arms, face and chests. They do not call to me in the street,
busy with their espressos.
And I stand
to admire a balcony bra with dusty pink straps.
The female street musician claims a tango on her violin.
The bra has embroidered nettles on them, I think
of the hands of him, blistering, his air sucked through clenched teeth. At home I dance in the open window, a lonesome nettle tango.


The potion shop on the far end of Leone Avenue is legally required to inform me that their love potions don’t work. Still, in my bathroom at midnight I follow the instructions on the roundbottom alchemical-style bottle to a fault: bruise the nettle leaf and place it under your tongue, say the object’s name until your mouth goes dry, then drink me.

When I wake up tomorrow I will call you up and I will ask to come over and I will ask to share your bed. When I wake up, the day after tomorrow, I will love you again.


I loved you
your thighs
up against my legs which I had not shaved. They prick your
legs like nettles. Outside the sun rise,
outside the sun rises, outside
the sun
whispers this love is a room and I am alone here. Your old cafetiere is gone from my kitchen counter.

Your apartment is strewn with empty bottles and your tattooed arms embrace me with their painted on pretend permanence but I
My brassiere visible through a sheer blouse and your sheer eyes say – this love is a room, with a courtyard, overgrown with nettles.

— Your face is unshaven.


The same second as you stepped down from the balcony ledge halfway across town, apparently deciding that the fall wouldn’t kill you or that it was too cold or that you didn’t really want it, not like that, I was watching the shadow under a bridge refuse to freeze over and got a nosebleed because of you. I thought something might grow in the red spots and I thought of you as I pinched my nose and tilted my head back and watched the sky thinking, irrationally angry, I was missing the action from the warring factions under the bridge.


Rue de la Huchette becomes a tied cherry stem in my mouth,
the sober mood all knotted up in the jazz the musician spreads
out over the piano like a wife;
all solemn vows and sharp lines made with his hands. The blood
rushes to my face. You can’t look away.

It is nothing but a fantasy between the cobble stones of the street,
spilled there like two euro wine, it was not a loss, but a baptism of the moment.
A single drop of blood from you, a single sentence spoken in
loss and utter devotion.
The sting and burn
of your hands on my arm where a tattoo of a single nettle rests.




A collaboration with Cecilie K, originally posted on our tumblrs, with the motif of nettle leaves. The even-numbered pieces, more poem-like than mine, are hers. The others are mine. You may find Cecilie’s writing in books or on her tumblr, by following the following links:



Found a nettle growing under a bridge. Start of summer, I was out looking for shards of your heart between the cobblestones.

A single nettle. Tall, even gangly. Like someone had dropped a needle there and walked away. Sat on my haunches by it, feet pointing at Chimère St. and Byson across the canal. Reached out a hand as if picking a flower for a lover, gloveless. Held it between thumb and forefinger and anticipated the sting, brushing it up and down my underarms over the area where your tattoo goes. Expecting, in vain, the skin to react at all.


One day a stray walked onto the set in the middle of a scene, distracting the actresses. It was unclear how it could have got there, as no-one had seen it before it stalked into frame. We kept the film rolling, though. We got distracted – the director too, despite his reputation. That’s how it looked for a split-second. But he stayed himself. Maybe for headlines, maybe he’s just like that. He gutted the dog right there with a knife that he apparently carries on his person at all times, spilling the entrails like vague futures all over the plastic carpet.

NEW STORY: The Bumblebee-Maker’s Kiss

Dear All,

I have a new story out, called The Bumblebee-Maker’s Kiss. You can buy the journal it’s in, Reckoning, for five dollars here:

The Reckoning cover.

The Reckoning cover.

Out of things I have written, this is one of those I’m the most proud of. It feels a bit silly to write more than that but if you’re looking for me to convince you to buy this, consider: not only is my story really cool, the whole journal is cool. The stories and poems inside it all bear themes of environmental justice.

I don’t want to tell you what my story is about but I should tell you some of what’s in it.

The first time your worlds crossed paths you felt your fate short-circuiting.

I wrote a story where there are no bees anymore, and I know what happened but you don’t. Humans started creating mechanical or electrical bees to fertilise flowers. One of them devoted her life to it; it seems to be all she does. But her kiss is eponymous, so something must disrupt her routine. The story is about slipping, falling in love with this bumblebee-maker. This person who makes the bees that fertilise the flowers in the city.

If you like my writing — and your reading my blog seems to suggest that you do, thank you — you will like this story. If you like eco-punk or solarpunk or environmental speculative sci-fi, if you want your prose and poetry to acknowledge global warming and maybe give you an estimate of how fucked we are, you will like this journal. Will it unfuck us? No, the unfucking is a huge undertaking. But maybe it can unfuck your heart a bit and give you release, hope, all that good stuff. It is the first issue of Reckoning, hopefully the first of many.



Your father told you about magic. About the stories hanging from the ceiling of the world like carcasses in a slaughterhouse. About astronomy and astrology. You learned to draw maps of places that didn’t exist. He told you it was okay to not know the names of constellations, because you can create your own astronomical phenomena and your own myths. Sometimes it might hurt seeing lines drawn by someone else hundreds of years ago. It doesn’t matter that things go missing, because you can find them again. Outside the apartment the whole hospital was quarantined. He was talking about himself.

Across the Street

The family across the street have two sets of drapes, one seems to be made of metal. Perhaps it’s bulletproof. They hug their kid hard in the mornings, looking at her like she’s survived cancer when she gets into the school bus. I don’t know what their names were, but the dad was not called Pete, Simon, Mark, Matt, or Robert. He’s called Trevor now; I don’t believe that either. Sometimes when we are in our gardens simultaneously I shout male names to see if he twitches. He thinks I’m boisterous and on good terms with everyone who bikes past.


after Cecilie K.


Every monster child goes through this. Changeling, they would correct me with boiling water in their voices: every changeling goes through this. Monsters are something different. It is the rite of passage at the edge of the woods (even in places where there are no trees for miles, there are woods). The changeling stands peering into the darkness, perhaps looking at her claws which she has filed down to be just nails, and she thinks with a clarity usually only found in orchestral flute music and cloudless nights at great altitudes: I am not the scariest thing in these woods.


Also a thing from the archives, although some other archives. Written after standing at the pitch-black mouth of a forest for ten minutes in the middle of the night, trying to get my eyes to get used to the level of light in there, eventually realizing that it didn’t get lighter than that. Inspired a lot by things Cecilie K. had written, also. You can read her excellent writing at this following link, for example:

You Wept

You wept. Who even weeps anymore? I bawl or tear up or cry, once I even blubbered, but you wept. This is exactly analogous to that time you caressed my skin when I thought you would stroke my chin or pet my hair. You’re from another time, another world. You called me dashing, when I’m nothing above handsome, am I? Am I? I don’t want to make love to you, I want blinding sex, I want a good shag, I want to fuck you, but you wrap your legs around me lovingly and I don’t know how to correct you.


More from the archives. Something about the spiderweb of connotations and me learning how to write, and how to love. They’re the same thing probably.


The whole, “you’re beautiful,” thing. You are. The only beautiful person I know and I don’t know why. Others can be pretty, hot, cute, sexy, gorgeous, jaw-dropping (you are all those things) but none of them can be beautiful, like you are. Some define beauty as perfection and some define it as perfectly flawed, and I don’t know, it’s not about that. There’s just something about the way you laugh and the way you kiss and the way you think. You’re a mayfly, bewinged and ephemeral, aren’t you? I would like to admire you, but, it’s okay if I can’t.


Another from the archives. I’m still fond of this declaration of love from a very stumbling mouth. (I’ve used that word and really meant it maybe three or four times after I wrote this. Sometimes it slips out of my mouth like a moth from an old abandoned wardrobe. Sometimes I write beauty in stories to mark lies.)

Before the Light Turns Red

Reposting this old drabble from 2012 because I deleted the old blog it was on in a fit of entropy. Might post more of these if there’s anything salvage-worthy. Anyway. This piece is based on a gorgeous song by Unwoman, called The Heroine:

I urge you to go listen to that. And when you’ve read my piece, to read this excellent post by @earlgreyhot, also inspired by that song:


Cross the street before the light turns red, arrive out of breath at your theatre. You’re playing someone who’s losing her love tonight again. Five hundred sirens blare to dampen the sound of the bombs. The play is in the basement, no-one’s here to take my ticket. Everything goes crimson and I hide in the dark behind a pillar. Fifty thousand pairs of hands grab me when I catch a bombflash in a shard of glass. I get thrown out. Remember me as more than the shadow I will glue to the wall. I hope you believed I would show.