21 thoughts on “Everything That’s Underneath


    “One. Two. Took a breath and let it out.”

    An inscrutable simplicity that conjures up Carin and Benjamin, she imagining that his diagnosed m.s. has become a MonSter on the floor, made him stop dancing, dancing being a sort of lifting oneself away from gravity. He is now building the house a better door amid its smell of cedar. But it is not imagination. This is the strength of imagination to become an opening to ‘something good’. Doorhung as a carved dream. A potential opening hawled up on ropes and pulleys, with carvings she did not know he had the skill to do. It’s as if this work has hawled up the reader, too, to give a doorway to this book’s gestalt somewhere underneath. Eventually.

    “On. Off.”

  2. The Wicked Shall Come Upon Him

    “‘Once. Before,’ he said.”

    Man called Twain.
    The Moon hung above.
    Woman called Cass meets Twain who is married to Nathan, under a moon that yellows the skin. Carving apples, like carving another doorway, here to the world’s Yellow Sign, I guess. End of the world syndrome, with Fuseli prints and blanket orgies to give the Tattered King (in Yellow?) I feel that syndrome intensely today. Even more so following recent events around us. This story has apotheosised that feeling. Bodily as well as mentally. An emptiness now taken shape and form, like the living imagination in the previous story. The only catharsis.

    “Red teeth. White flesh .”

  3. To Sleep Long, to Sleep Deep

    Digging into the bowels of the earth. I know the feeling, as I do this with books myself. Peeling back dead things to find their ripe gestalts, not obvious till you find them, then you find they are still alive. I cannot know that feeling between the legs. I am the wrong sex. But I can imagine others’ bad synergies when they are paired together, often boarded or abused between book covers, but as everything is bad, everything becomes sort of good. If only in books? Or underneath. Here Nina and Simon.

    “Like salt. Like earth.”

    “Here. Right here.”

    “back and forth, back and forth”

    “The book. He had the book.”


    “Clubs with sticky floors and watered down drinks and stupid names like Secrets or Twolips.”

    But no such luck for two flat-mates, two boymen, Paul and Jake, gagging after women, inadvertently have laced weed, but that I am sure is, like everything, underneath the Fleshtival flyer’s attention. The eponymous flyer. The weed simply dulls the vision, as, from the previous story, sex-space and its agglomerated rust or blood stains, from their bedsit sat on the bed of their brains and dug down inside them after their first stepping down steps towards the bowels of the earth… Stifle Valh(alla). No rhyme or reason, but the rust-mutant Valkyries’ punishment of them is perfect for the boymen’s having just been there. The reader’s, too. For just being there weakly daring to read the laced and stained wordweed to its deadly fucking end.

  5. The Beautiful Nature of Venom

    “I had become like a piece of lace, delicate and airy.”

    Not lace as in laced or mixed in the previous story, but here it is outed as a mix of oxymoron aimed at manmoron just to neologise or nominate a venom word, a bespoke venom spilling spiders from underneath your innerself toward outer space, toward a void that houses manmoron’s savage safeless sex…. Thus allowing you, as ironic oxymoron yourself, to create ‘the beautiful nature of women.’ Alongside the beautiful venom of nature’s vile virility?
    A powerful vignette of venom. I can’t visualise a more virulent one.

  6. I reviewed this next story in 2014, and below is what I wrote about it at that time:

    Jacob Wrestling With The Angel - Marc Chagall

    Jacob Wrestling With The Angel – Marc Chagall

    Like Feather, Like Bone
    “Her fingers are streaked with blood, but I do not care, and she places the feathers in my hair,…”
    …as if, in this striking parable of a ‘short short’, submitting herself as a grown woman to the healing hands of some unlikely Christ figure that is in the shape of a small girl. A catharsis for earlier tragic loss of a boy offspring. As earlier with the previous story, ingesting as gestation, there as fox, here as bird…

  7. Worship Only What She Bleeds

    The utter nightmarish imaginings of a girl, and the house she lives in that bleeds. Her laissez-faire, laissez-fur of a mother, her daddy who never came back after going on an errand for his daughtmonger (as I playfully called my own daughter when she was small – and now my daughter’s married and in her forties) but does errand imply errant?
    Then her own Mum leaves – on an errand?…

    “Let me in, let me in. When she leaves, I hold my breath. Quiet. Quiet.”

    Fog … black & white ants on a TV screen – when the signal vanishes – indicate the TV is not a current digital model. But a TV from my own past. She becomes a pig not a rat in the house’s increasingly furred up walls? And there’s a new Daddy thing brought forth from the vein-seamed belly of her Mum that threatens to find her there…?

    “the reminder of a smell instead of the smell all by itself”

    This has a sort of disarmingly simple wording but with a deep and dark that can send you mad if you forget it was actually written by someone. Too easy to accept and understand it might have been too easily created exploitatively. But I fear the words are autonomously parthenogenetic not deliberately written at all. Underneath everything, it is too easy to tar all of us with the same laissez-faire brush.

    “Underneath everything, the beating grows louder, and the fur stuff twitches.”

  8. The Tying of Tongues

    “This is why she bleeds into the Earth. A curse for selling her soul, Anya .”

    Amya’s mother commenting on the ‘witch’, a flowing, sinuous woman, I guess, as Anya’s eyes follow the so-called witch’s passion-inducing body passing through the village. Her elder brothers, their tongues tied, their fishing-nets caught, too, not imagining that a man would not be their sister’s favoured bed-mate one day. This story, indeed this whole book so far, is a blood poetry dreamcaught by pantheistic sex. “, and there is beauty laced with pain,”
    This author hawled me up to my reading-room’s ceiling from the outset of her book. And the rapturous attrition continues here. As Anya’s natural inclinations are shafted by shameful arriviste man, maybe at the behest of her brothers, whose tongues are the fish they catch from underneath? The witch, to the relief of at least part of me, becomes solving sensuous salve, a messiah who is not a meester. One of holy concupiscence. But from which Mythos, on which path of belief? “…there were things moving in the spaces between the darkness and moonlight.”

  9. I reviewed the next story in 2016 and this is what I wrote about it at that time…



    “Violet woke up with the bruises.”

    This inchoate spasm is almost as if an unintentional coda or supplement to Abigail in the previous ‘Violet’ story above, a girl, then woman, with transcendental visions of what lies behind the blood mapping her body, a shocking sacrifice by her own mother, perhaps, to expose her daughter to an even greater, seemingly inimical Mother that is at least part of herself (of themselves). A ‘demisting’ or demystifying of the man, father or ‘mister’ often portrayed as the stalker…?
    I imagine there are lots of these affecting personal-seeming spasms encouraged by the acceptance of exponentially emergent Weird literature these days, and this one happens to be the one that was chosen for this book. Not a random choice, but preternaturally meant to be.


    “This is my body. This is my blood. The Holy Communion. The wafer and the wine. My body burning from the inside out,…”

    Danny is faced with his Dad’s long road, his Mom already down it, a Capote corruption, an attenuation of Flannery. Things. Those black and white ants again or what? Something worse. In water you also drink. This book that turns you inside out, as if you harbour what you most fear in granulated or atomised form seeking outlet. Now we have it from the spear, not the distaff vantage point. Danny who, via another woman with ‘the emptiness of her sex’ between the sharpness of her hip bones, eventually finds Sarah. Can this book work out at last? Can we have one man have his moment of relief in completion with love before the power walk continues down its long walk, even if we dilly and dally along some path of Zeno’s Paradox, always halfway there? The attrition is endless; I don’t think I will ever reach the end of this most depressing book ever written, even though parts of me are uplifted by it, hawled to that ceiling again. It’s as if it has no interludes of good to compare to its bad. Unless things are all bad, anyway, and this is the only truthful book in the world. SO FAR. With no hope of later-labelling. No hope of hindsight. Bad from the start of time, built into your genes.
    Written parthenogenetically.


    “In this tiny Florida town…”

    Gone With The Wind. Our girl this time is, as one of her names, explicitly named after the lead actor (Gable) in that famous film, but its title seems relevant, today of all days. This substantive tale of human body and earth’s almost conjoined or mutant-pantheistic elements and the dreams that such bodies and elements contain, dreams that become reality and vice versa, is the apotheosis of this book so far. Uplifting, like the lightning bird itself…
    “And the terrible bird, rising from the waters, its white feathers stained crimson.”
    …and cathartic-nightmarish like this mother-daughter synergy, underneath the threat or thrust of some men and like the different synergy of this younger girl Gable and slightly older girl Sisi amid the growth of bodily things, including, but not exclusively, babies. Almost a transgender as part of the transavian? And their names, like strange tongue-tying words from inchoate and miscegenate dreams of legends, they gives themselves. The visits from the wrinkled grandmothers. The conjuring of mutant Rasnictem-Flannery, the DeMeester uniqueness, too.

    “her fingers, to the delicate lace embroidered along the bottom of the white curtains.”

  12. I reviewed the next story in 2016 and this is what I wrote about it at that time…


    I couldn’t resist reading on straightaway to the second story, to what I assume would be a short coda to this publication’s eponymous work and, although I was half right in my assumption, it now stands on its own with my having completed it… As a coda of this publication but also as its poetic apotheosis…
    Another glimpse of Brianne and her mother?


    “The nightmares split open on my tongue.”

    This coda is in itself a meal replacement pill, passing over the tongue, not into the stomach but into a dream-claustrophobia… A green endworld, if that is not a contradiction in terms.
    A story of a sin-eater in the guise of dream. A complex empathy with love being a palimpsest of awfulness and stoical acceptance of that awfulness, of God’s forked tongue and a blessed unvirgin mother. A reverential awfulness, that dark-Christian awe or aura, making this publication possibly the first of such a dark-Christian genre of fiction? Where God the father dug a well that you can never reach. The Life of Brianne. This chapbook’s front cover image.

  13. Daughters of Hecate

    “How Hecate, the crone, personified the perfect feminine identity, how to tap into the power of threes through blood magick.
    ‘There’s so much more. Underneath our skin. Living and breathing and drinking in what it can. Waiting to be born. Waiting for us to gobble it up. There’s power in that blood,'”

    “Somewhere underneath the swollen silence in the room, underneath her breath leaking in and out,”

    Incredible to contemplate, but this story may be the most powerfully overwhelming yet. You reader must restrain your empathy with this book, or this book will likely empathise with you, like a filter that works both ways.
    A gaia of motherhood – from above and from underneath this chain of mothers – manipulates, gaslights, triangulates, scapegoats, parentifies and infantalises up and down that chain.
    Told through Birdie’s eyes, her friend Livia with her drawings and Hecate Mythos, her woman doctor of mind or is it body who blends into this gaia unforgettably the next time you dream, as you will, about her. And her man Dylan. And her father alleged by her mother to have done what many fathers once seemed to do or still do? Another hidden plague that feeds the Earth’s dark gaia of daughtmothers and daughtmongers?
    A case study as well as a story. As well as a whole book?


    “Skin begot of skin and blood begot of blood.”

    Two sisters, one older by two years than Mina but feeling younger, visitations (dead mother killed in car crash) in half-dreams, but not shared dreams, as if Mina who sees her makes the older one think it is the older one’s birthright to have such visitation, even if the Dark Lady is not really their mother at all. This is a longer rarefied vision, stronger than I can project to you, with the father gradually implicated as they try to bring the visitation to him. This has all the power of the things crawling, the roots, the blood, but here a new name is explicitly granted but not enunciated and I wonder if I pricked upon some clue fortuitously with my daughtmonger and daughtmother words above. The father is stoical, like me, and the sisters are in a highly rarefied state, with it being uncertain whence the manipulations come, from the Dark Lady or their mother herself or the sisters themselves? Surely not from the faultfather? Or even those half-seen working the computers in the hospital where he took Mina?
    This book needs to be read carefully as if defusing bombs in emotional or spiritually nightmarish warzones.

    “and we pressed our bodies into the dirt as if we could take root, but there was nothing beneath us but emptiness.”

  15. All That Is Refracted, Broken

    “I didn’t understand then. I still don’t. Not completely.”

    It is easy to become blasé about these stories. Almost an overdosing that one needs to separate out into normal doses. If any dose of a story in this book could possibly be called normal! This one is an amazing metaphysical conceit, where a brother who should by birthright not have survived that very birth cannot look at his sister other than by a mirror. It is as if deflection is the only way to cope with this book. Park it elsewhere, as it were. Where blame can at least be shared. Birthright as decoy? Reading fiction as some intrinsic truth that is refraction, however broken. I am suffering the jagged lines of incipient migraine as I type this out. I wish I could prove it, but trust me, that is what is happening. I merely describe, and no longer evaluate, at least for a while. Interpret, as you will.

  16. I reviewed the next story in 2014 and this is what I wrote about it at that time….


    December Skin
    “‘…and all that’s left is that thing peeling you open, eating its way into you,’ she said. / ‘You read too many books, nerd,’ he said and smiled.”
    I sense this is darkly illuminating by becoming almost the exact inverse of the previous story, taking what is threatening you into a safe place instead of slamming the door to keep it out… Like stuffing my head with books of fiction, dark fiction such as this one that I read, that I digest separately, and later as a gestalt, in the way that a vampire metabolises blood ….then trying to spill it all out again, into your head, trying to exorcise what I voluntarily took in. This particular haunting story is fraternal / sororal, and if anyone is to have a paternal concern for these surrogate ‘children’, for the empty spaces between their heartbeats, it is the tutelary reader: an old man like me.

  17. I reviewed the next story in 2016 and this is what I presented as my review at that time…



    Nearly forty pages, with two stories, and photographic art by Natalia Drepina.
    This copy is numbered 132/150.


    “Things we aren’t supposed to see.”

    Things we aren’t supposed to read about, too.

    A powerful dark-Christian tale of young Brianne and her separated parents, before which many of us readers would have assumed our dreams are separate, too, separate from real life and from each other. But are they ever? Overlapping here, they create, I feel, various word biopsies in the physical form of tongue, revealed words that tell Brianne – and, via her, us – of the sexually accretive mutability of herself, her mother, father and the boy whom she fancies…indeed of the fleshy soul itself secreted within.
    To speak more of it would let you see too much…

  18. To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth

    A lot that was to be built for Harper’s wife but never was; Willa and Lea are 13 and play there and then they meet Beth who finds, over the next few years, their lost things in a hole in that lot. A coda for this book. The oatmeal coloured Beth is a figure that impends over literature as well as over these two girls of friendship’s survival through all sexual and earthen awakenings. Beth either stole their things and hid them there so that she could claim finding them or she truly found them from scratch by preternatural means as I do with my gestalts. I often think I am fooling myself, but the ricochets of fiction are endless and ever-binding. This book in particular. And thus I surely can give it no greater praise.

    “’Father made me a door,’ she said.”

    And perhaps I did or perhaps I didn’t. More likely she made it for me.


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