the lighter is familiar; smooth silver metal scuffed from use, the size, the weight. the flip-snap of the lid flicked open and closed. snick. snick. spark in the darkness but no flame. damn thing’s empty but still carried anyway. like the feel against the palm. undemanding companion. flick flick flick, back and forth. snick snick snick, tiny spark. burn marks against wood; the ghosts of flames. isn’t fire the domain of the sun? not everything is as it seems. you don’t have to touch the flame for it to leave its mark. does the flame not deserve to live as well? to eat, to grow, to survive and thrive? we are reborn in ash and smoke. fire may come naturally to the sun, but the moon better comprehends its potential.


Tell me how I can help you understand. I want you to understand. I need you to understand. I need you to see things, even if just for a moment, through my eyes. Our eyes. Other eyes. I need you to see there are myriad strings attached to me, each different and equally valuable, equally unbreakable. A delicate gold chain for the Mother, a ship’s rope for the Godmother, a guitar string for the sisterlover. For one of you, a silk tie; for the other, a wire garrote. Pull as you might, you won’t snap these connections, only yank me off-balance. These bonds are no betrayal to you, don’t you see they’ve always been there? If I have only recently found those on the other end of the lines, that doesn’t change the fact that the lines have always existed. No love is a threat to you when any love only strengthens my capacity to love you all. The others understand – can you not understand as well? I have wept and bled for you – how can you doubt me?


For the Worship of the Sun and Moon

Colors: black, silver, dark red, amber, white, blue-gray

Scents: match smoke, cigarette smoke, rubbing alcohol, sex/sweat, wet pavement, cologne, blood, gunpowder, city night air

 hard liquor, black coffee, pills, bone marrow

Items: blades, handguns, cigarettes, metal lighters, faded Polaroids, silk ties, leather, broken glass, candles, obsidian, rose/smoky quartz, ink, shot glasses, syringes, chains, letters

Songs: Love Crime (Siouxie Sioux), Love Will Have Its Sacrifices (Soles), Every You Every Me (Placebo), Lonely Ghosts (O+S), For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti (Sufjan Stevens), Run to You (Pentatonix), For Everything a Reason (Carina Round), The Pit (Silversun Pickups), Mykonos (Fleet Foxes)

Bodily offerings: blood, hair, tattoos, tears, bruises, scars


(Don’t be late. They want an offering. Something metal. Something thin. Don’t be late. Be careful with the cards. There’s something waiting in them. Don’t get lost. They never had a reason to get you lost before. You can’t find your way if your compass is broken. The room is white. They painted it white. Don’t give Them what They want. Give Them what They need.)

[ A summoning by candlelight and shadow, music and whispering, unfamiliar cards full of blood and beauty and possibility, heart hammering, eyes darting, there and away again, nervous and afraid and determined to do this right, to understand, to mollify, to earn a scrap of approval or respect, to be worthy. ]

Fool. Traitor. You left us. You forgot us. You dishonored us. You should bow. You were ours first. Completely. We suffer you to wander; don’t take advantage of our generosity. We don’t need you. You are a means to an end.

No. No, I don’t believe that. I think you care.

Don’t challenge me. Don’t test me.

I’m not. But the scribe tells the story. And that’s part of it. You chose me for a reason. You know I can do this. You know I’m the one. I’m not challenging you; I’m just stating the truth. Your signs, your sigils, are branded onto my skin. I am yours. We’ll go over the cliff together.

You’ve grown, little scribe. You’re gaining a backbone.

You made me. You bent me down until I needed one to stand back up. You meant for that, didn’t you.

It’s not fun if it’s not a challenge.

Is this a game?

No. It’s life. Of course we must test you. It’s our way. It’s who we are.

Are you disappointed in me?



Be gentle. She isn’t made of steel and ice like you.

I can take it.

You are fallible. Like us. That’s part of it, too. You must learn.

Learn what?

To tell the whole story.

What haven’t I told?

The end.

The end? All I tell are endings. Do you have to be so damn obscure?

Would you have us any other way?


Now pick up the cards.

[ Page of Cups; a floating citadel, pipe organ and chains, the cello neck like The Emperor; the connection is struggling, love must be nurtured with nostalgia; where have you been? ]

[ Queen of Cups – veiled eyes, war helm or crown, pale breast bared, rigid and royal; go within yourself to seek the spark of life, embrace creativity and art; remember what you once accomplished ]

[ Two of Wands – bird skulls, red and black; be bold and authoritative, do what must be done; you are on the right path here, keep it up ]

The page grows into the queen. You too can become a queen. Grow that backbone. Be fierce. Become the lioness. Stars are sharp as hell.

Go on now. His turn.

[ The High Priestess – much like the Queen of Cups, breast bared, eyes covered, a floating throne, cello necks like rays of light, rigid and regal; secrets and shadows, subconscious stirring, magic; we give you this gift, we are that part of you ]

[ Knight of Pentacles – a hand reaching, grasping to make contact. armor shattering to reveal pale fingers beneath, framed by the full moon; be steadfast and true, reliable, the old ways are proved good; you know what to do, you have done it before, now do it again ]

[ Queen of Wands – eyes veiled by lace, pierced and patterned flesh, dangling key, proud and fierce; practice constancy, sustain creative vision, understand your skills; do not leave us again, do not waiver in your faith or loyalty ]

What now?

Ours. Past. Present. Future.

[ And more – Two of Pentacles, Knight of Swords, Ten of Pentacles … Page of Wands, King of Swords, King of Pentacles – but the reading muddled, uncertain, it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t speak clearly, what does it mean, why isn’t it clear like the other? Frustration, failure, grasping for meaning, can they not be read? What is past, present, future to the timeless, deathless? ]

What now? Have you said what you wanted to say?

We have much more to say. But not now.

Do you understand now? What we wish from you? What you must do?

Yes. I think so.

You can’t think. You must know.

I know. I see. I am yours.

And we are yours.

Remember this feeling. [ Exhausted, drained, empty and overflowing, uncertain and determined, humble and deferential, such power, such power ] That is true devotion. Go. For now. We will speak again.

[ Music ends. Candle blows out. Ready to collapse. Dazed and unsure but…rightness. ]


You’re haunting my dreams – why? Punishing lover, unattainable father, breaker of teacups and chooser of cliffs, why do you seek me? I’m not sure if you’re a snake or a hunting cat; I’m not sure if you have something to tell me or if your presence alone is the message. If so, who sent you? What am I supposed to glean from dreams of love and loss and jealousy all mixed together and tidal strong? You could be either of Them, your love burning hot as the sun and mind calculating cold as the moon – or perhaps both in one tailored human skin. Is that it, then? Have They chosen you as messenger and metaphor? Do They enjoy the parallels between Their story and yours? Speak to me, monster, messenger. I do not fear you. I know you as I know Them, and I am not afraid to drop the teacup and see if it will put itself back together.


It’s hard to get your snarl off my lips. Hello, mad king. Hello, dark angel. Hello, son of Magdalene. Hello, you who are the seventy-ninth card, the Deceiver dressed in red. Are you what awaits me in this deck of keyholes and veiled eyes? Are you the one who demands offering and obeisance, humility and fear? Don’t think I have forgotten. If we are going to do this, we are going to do this right.