An Epitaph

Will the earth

With my bones

Swallowed

Find the marrow

Lacks?

Will the grey

Veined clay

Gather in the

Defects?

Will the stones

Laugh?

Carried in the water

In rivulets

With the weight of

Evaporated eons.

In red, roaring wastes,

Will the water wait?

Carving earth in

Mountain and canyon,

What will it make

Of the hollow things that

Once held this shape?

When scattered

Will I finally

Be lovely?

Will I finally be

Comely when

Rearranged?

A promise

Like feathers,

Like lead

Cradled in

The trembling

Of existence.

The ache

Burrowed

And silenced

In silt.

MJGS 3/2/22

Aggregate

Moss covered stone

Sun beckoned

The snow runs off,

Stays in shadow.

Petrichor and

Woodsmoke.

Its said to

Follow beauty,

But forgets.

Swift water flows,

Slows at the bend

In the middle frozen

Hand outstretched

Hard pack and

Hardpan

Veins of quartz

Veins of clay

Dust and ash

Pockmarked with

Grinding rock

Laden and vacant

A thousand years.

Shot rock

In granite

In agate

In aggregate.

Pine needles

In a panic.

Wind summoned.

The sun sets

And fills pockets

Valleys

Inlets

Seethes against

Mountainside.

Long strides

And echo

Against cliff face.

Falling and fallen

Pebbles and ember.

Oxygen fed and

Carbon starved

Stars burn and

Scatter

Then

Burrow

Nestle

Soften the

Darkness.

Ladies of Horror – November

Jack’s Regret
by Michelle Joy Gallagher

“Jack hadn’t slept since he drowned Elise. He hadn’t set out to hurt her. She’d just said so many things that wounded him in short order, leaving him no time to recover. The passion and fire in her that first drew his eye quickly left him burned. It left no working patience in him. They had been walking along the shore when she’d brought up Beatrice. Beatrice. Why had he ever given her the time of day?”

Read the rest here

The Big Freeze

A part of me is perpetually afraid that whatever was within me that allowed me to write will one day go and not come back. An aberration that will finally and coldly be corrected.

The theory of the big freeze posits that our universe will end when entropy increases to a point of maximum value. Our inexplicably vast universe will become so large, gasses will be too thinly spread out to allow for new stars to form and ignite. That’s what a block or dry spell feels like. The words are there, just too distant from each other to connect, gather mass, catch fire.

I’ve flinched when it comes to writing for a few weeks now. Stops and starts. Chilling reminders of times when years elapsed between efforts, all my energy sunken irretrievably into survival rather than creative expression. Everything feels forced. The healing and thrill I get from writing something worthwhile delayed.

Art has served as a decent tourniquet. I’m a novice, so I spend a lot of my time feeling out of my depth. More trial and error than anything. Fumbling blindly in unfamiliar territory. Everything I draw or paint, fraught with heavy handed symbolism. A sort of shorthand for the poetry and prose I have neglected.

The first few shaky lines in a new verse are so important, the opening of a door I’ve pried at until my fingers are bloodied.

Café Macabre II

I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.


If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:

https://www.nihtgengapress.com/product/cafe-macabre-ii

https://leahmcnaughtonlederman.com

Drawing and painting have been an incredible healing salve.

Skull with narcissus and mistletoe
Magnolia

“But, Michelle, aren’t you supposed to be a writer?”

I still am! Working behind the scenes. News on that front really soon!

Arbor

Tree removal is a violent act, even when done by a skilled arborist. There’s something hardwired into me that knows we shouldn’t destroy something that provides for life on so many levels. When I was a child, I would cry and obsess over the sight. Imagining the tree in pain, and the animals being hewn down along with it.

I especially worried about the birds that’d made nests in the tree, imagining them cowering as the machines whirred, watching the blades get closer and closer. I couldn’t conceive of the fact that the noise and the movement and the vibrations triggered an innate avoidance of danger in them, and they flew away.

I listened to chainsaws every day and tried to survive them by being very quiet and sitting very still.

Ladies of Horror – August

Brenda woke in a cold sweat. The gap in her heavy bedroom drapes let a blade of sunshine through the window that fell across her body, bisecting her. She watched the motes of dust floating in the light for a long time, wanting to delay the inevitable reacquaintance with reality. She could hardly remember the past week. Grief sharpened her memories of her father and dulled almost everything else. She kept thinking of when she was a little girl, feeling invincible, running around the park under her father’s watchful eye, wishing she could go back again.

She’d had an incredibly vivid recurring dream the night before and mulled it over, sitting up and gathering the strength to pour herself out of bed. She could remember a darkness, then a whisper. One that questioned her softly but had an edge to it. A hint of barely contained impatience.

“What would you give?” it asked her. She didn’t know how to reply.

“What would you give, to turn back the clock?”

Read the rest at https://spreadingthewritersword.com/tag/michelle-joy-gallagher/

Relic

The stars are a fragile constant. Their permanence only an illusion. A trick performed by size and scale and time. Ghosts in the sky.

Our sun is in main sequence. Main sequence means our star is of average size and luminosity. A flickering candle, glimmering in a cathedral at midnight. It’ll take billions of years for it to decay to the point that, when swollen, it absorbs us.

Our minds aren’t made to contemplate time on that scale. Our lifespan, laughably short, stunts our comprehension of it. It becomes an abstract. Knowable but unknowable. Unreachable epochs looming in the deep. Shadows and cinder forever on the periphery.

Light takes one hundred thousand years to reach the surface of the sun from the core. The density inside of our “average” star slows the progress. From the surface it only takes eight minutes to reach us. Standing outside on a sunny day, you are the recipient of something ancient, your skin bathed in relics.

You are also created with them. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, carbon, hydrogen, billions of years in the making. The ruins of a long dead star with breath and pulse and synapse and neuron. A cataclysm that laughs.