this again?

My mother’s husband’s brother dies and the news comes late at night. The brother he hated, if we’re being honest, they were never close.

But it doesn’t matter because the result is the same, because it could be anything– a scratched bumper, a crooked picture, a contrary opinion, an eye roll, a burnt meal– that sets him screaming and destructive, punching walls and breaking crockery and throwing himself downstairs and into plate glass, threatening lives and violence like breathing.

Part of me hopes that this will be what kills him.

Part of me knows better.

The part of me that remembers eighteen and shaking holding a door shut with my spine while he slammed his weight into it again and again and again until the shitty particle board groaned and cracked and he murmured to me through it like a seduction that he could get into my bedroom if he really wanted, that, of course, he had only ever given me what I had asked for, that I couldn’t keep him out forever with my bruised knuckles and aching back braced and burning against that broken door–

That part of me feels sick because it knows. Because he and I are monstrously alike. Nothing anyone or anything has done to him has killed him yet and I know in my bones that neither will this. He’ll survive and so will I and, eventually, the door will break.


To the Victor, the Spoils

Or: Rae reviews romance with lots of boils

Last night I read Laura Thalassa’s Pestilence. I went into this without reading anything about the book other than the fact that it was about someone who falls in love with one of the Four Horsemen of the Christian apocalypse. I thought to myself, This is a book about a preternaturally powerful embodiment of disease laying waste to the Earth and striving to end all life as we know it. If that’s not powerful eldritch monsterfucker fuel, I don’t know what is.

I was disappointed. Deeply disappointed.

The spoiler-free review amounts to this: 3/5 stars. If you would like a tropey romance novel that’s a little bit more action-packed than standard while still playing it “safe” narratively, then go forth into the wilds of this book and enjoy. It requires the standard amount of suspension of disbelief. The highlights for me were: clever name puns, the fact that Thalassa doesn’t shrink from writing gore, and Trixie Skillz the horse. This is definitely not going to be for people who are… hardcore in their Christian leanings. This is not a book I would recommend to people traumatized by gun violence or intimate partner violence.

And now I get to stop caring about spoilers.

Continue reading “To the Victor, the Spoils”

get skinny or die trying

mmmmno.jpegCapitalism has found out about body positivity– I’m sure y’all’ve noticed:


A body for everybody.

Choose beautiful.

#Lose hate not weight.

It’s everywhere. Self-love and a healthy relationship with food are only one purchase away!

You think these things sound familiar. You think it might be nice to fall for it. You think these people are goddamn fools if they think I’m going to even consider loving a thing that has been trying to kill me since the day I was born.

You think of your mother. You think of her taste in men.

You look at your body again and you think maybe I can be tricked into loving you after all.

This kind of abuse runs in families anyway.

rlb 9.21.18

what’s eating me

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing.

I wonder if you remember that our entire friendship is predicated upon writing.

I expected it, though.

I’ve been trying to get that mistletoe-need pruned back into something that didn’t touch every aspect of everything I did, said, wanted because it has always been too much information, too overwhelming to process, too complex to follow. No one wants to hear it. But I didn’t try hard enough. This year, though, I managed it. Thanks to you.

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing and I finally uprooted the goddamn thing and threw it into the street where it wouldn’t take root in hot asphalt.

I have stopped talking to you about writing.

Now, every week or so you’ll text me about some new disaster at work or home. Once in a while, I’ll send you a meme. Once a month you might send me poetry, looking for critique. You are miserable at work and at home. You don’t respond to the memes for days at a time. I can’t bring myself to give you critique on something I’ve forgotten how to talk about. You asked me how my life was going and all I could tell you is, “Nothing’s really changed,” because it hasn’t. Do you understand? The only points of interest that exist in my life are all from writing: the things that inspire me, the people I write with and for, the constant research into obscure fields, the endless collection of pinterest boards and commonplace books. I have never been very good at writing but it’s the only thing I have ever wanted to live for. Without it, I have nothing to talk about.

You asked me to stop talking to you about writing. So I did.

for jenna

Down feathers– Not simply because of geese but because of the way the down feathers fall, flutter, and dance and the way you are so light on your feet without trying. I remember dancing with you one evening– I think you tried to teach me to swing or perhaps you were showing me your latest routine– whichever it was I could only think how lucky I was to see it. The arch of your foot, curved calves, magnificent thighs and the way those legs carried you without effort across the floor even though I knew how many hours, months, years, blood, sweat, tears of training went into every breath of movement–

Hailstones– You already know this one but you don’t know they remind me of your laugh. Hailstones on glass, bright and delicate in the middle of a storm, a startling and beautiful break from the gale that reminds us that there is far more out there than just thunder and fear. There is more to the symphony than the bass and the drums there is also the lone piccolo singing, flying above the rest of the din to carry the fugue and maybe it’s something of a fugue state that carries the audience somewhere else, somewhere new entirely to be someone new and isn’t that something? A new state of personhood just like that–

Dustmotes– You remind me, in quiet times, of dustmotes in sunbeams that would fall through the screen door of my grandmother’s house onto the dark-stained hardwood panel that marked off the entryway. That sacred space where we could give kisses and shrug off our days before giving way to rich, thick blue carpet, braced for family. The sun was such a dark gold I thought I could reach out and touch it; the dust would be velvet. You are those moments of stillness where we catch ourselves breathing and existing and it feels like someone has suddenly spotted us with our hand in the cookie jar but we’re grown ups so we know we’ve not done anything wrong at all it’s just old habit to pause and look over our shoulder, sheepishly smiling as if we are chagrined–

Spring grass– Specifically, the memory of lying on blankets in it when it has grown tall, tall, tall enough that lying on your belly makes it feel a bit like a forest if you pull your hat down low and listen to the wind and pretend. It helps if your best friend is lying nearby, not talking but breathing, too, quiet and present, like you are both creeping along on some adventure and trying not to be heard. It’s an illusion of course, a friendly one. All you have to do is roll over and it’s diminished in a wave of cool blanket on your back, hot sun on your belly, and the scent of grass on the wind– it’s itchy embrace kept safely away by the blankets. But your best friend is still there with her rockstar sunglasses, avoiding studying just as hard as you are, and all’s right with the world because it is spring and the sun is warm and the grass is tall.

rlb 1.25.17


You walk back into my office.

Entire universes live and die on the fingertips of choice.

“I feel like an asshole–”

I stop breathing. Look you in the eye for the first time in a year smell the warm denim jacket skin unscented soap crushed lavender from across the room. In the winter of your pause I am in suspended animation living the memory of my arms around your perfect waist, soft, pulling you back into bed.

You aren’t looking at me.

I’m looking past every time you said I was something that could be fixed and into a future where kickstart apologies sputter into something bruised burning wilted growing up out of ashes the way forests do after wildfires.

“– I didn’t need that appointment after all.”

The splitsecond hairsbreadth moment passes.

I exhale.

“If” is the biggest word in the English language.

rlb 4.11.17



Death made me

a little giddy i’ll confess

brushing past on the ballroom floor, an

accidental meeting beneath

lead crystalglass refractions,

a not-quite-teasing

glance that i can’t

be bothered to return because

She left me

the courage to kiss




rlb 4.5.17