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Mi Caballero Infernal

for Carlos Hernandez

most days he is mostly human,
or seems so:

writes dexterously, swears joyously, wears sweatshirts,
checks his iPhone, showers daily, bemoans the need for spectacles,
promenades amongst a virtual professoriate, holds office hours on Zoom,
drinks more coffee than is good for him, eats only cereal (except
when he comes flirting for a sweet thing, that he,
in his wisdom, requests I hide from him, in some dark corner
of my wardrobe, or high up on a shelf that is
mine alone, that he pretends he cannot see or reach).

you know.
normal things.

but then,
there are other signs,
some, extremely subtle:

a rectangular dent (only present in a certain
mood of mischief) appearing in the flesh beneath his left eyeball;
a tendency to prance or cannonball or piggyback–
with no provocation or otherwise word of warning–
and demand, in altered voice, “an ostrich with a diamond collar!
a ruby monkey! a zombie chicken with rockstar eyes, wheezing
with the agony of the damned!”
to bare his throat and bay for meat: rare, bloody;
for lujo rum in a dark and dusty bottle;
for a rainy day in Canada with a fine cigar; or,
spinning on his heel–pouncing!–he stares at me
with all the earnestness of a capricious spirit, and offers
anything–everything!–name a gift, he says–
“name it–and I’ll put a girdle round the Earth in forty minutes!”
as his eyes begin to glow,
not so subtly,
in the dark.

this is when I begin to suspect,
slowly and with circumspection
(with a growing sense of having thought this all before–
thought, yes, and been made to forget):

that it was not a man I married.
not an ordinary man.

no ordinary man.

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For Bek, on Her Birthday

First, to celebrate you, Bek Huston, I drew four cards from the Baraja del Destino, from our game Negocios Infernales.

You are the artist of these cards. Carlos and I are in constant awe of your rapidity, your cheerfulness, your thunderous talent, your ability to revise, and your glorious collaboration skills.

Without you, none of these cards would exist, and neither would the game as we know it.

Second, to celebrate you, Bek Huston–I adjure you, Tattooed People of the Midwest: make an appointment at her shop!

Third, to celebrate you, Bek Huston, I take these cards you helped us make, and I write you these four mini-poems:

Genius Prefers Effort Over Genius

in your veins run 
dreams like spilt ink
strange constellations scratched
on the bruised back of the sky
sleeping, you smile
with the Mona Lisa serenity
of a world-weary Sun
how art can break
a body open
one needle at a time

Where Have You Gone, O My Skeleton?

when your treacherous left arm 

how you sat up, 
and spilled 
extravagant kaleidoscope oracles 
from your right? 

Pain is the Opposite of Thought

for the woman 
who wields needles
for the woman 
who works miracles
for the woman 
who riddles the dermis with holes 
to flood our subsurface with color and 
codify our memories in flesh 

for this woman
I wish 
a sanguine clarity 
an easing of anxiety 
a handshake between her shadow-self 
and the lamp of power 
that is her living body

The Soul Loves All. The Mind, But Some.

let she who has been shushed
hush the lips
of the loudest
let she who has been bound
her broken shackles
let she who has been erased
stitch her place
in the stars
the west wind our witness
the east wind our witness
the south wind our witness
the north wind our witness

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Under Some Enchantment

I have set my alarm with the sound of the ocean. When the tide comes in, I must stop writing this blog. When the tide comes in, I must do the next thing: prepare tomorrow’s script.

But before I prepare tomorrow’s script, I will set my alarm with the sound of the ocean. I will only give myself 30 minutes to prepare tomorrow’s script.

Then, the tide comes in. After that, I must do the next thing: edits. But before I do edits, I will set my alarm with the sound of the ocean.

When the tide comes in, I will go for a walk. We will buy the meat for tonight’s meal. It is the anniversary of my best friend’s father’s death. We will eat his favorite meal, and toast to his twinkling blue eyes, which are the color of my best friend’s eyes.

But before I go for a walk, I make sure the next tide will roar in my reminder. Waves, waves to tell me that my friend in Rhode Island and I will sit and talk on Skype.

How many months has it been since we have talked? Too many months. Sometimes we are too far out at sea. Everything aches.

After that, I think, my ocean alarms can cease, can surge back into the long foam, the long dark, and it will be family time: food and entertainment, the ability to lose one’s sense of time.

It is all too easy to lose my sense of time.

I sit to write.

Suddenly, I find myself on the other side of the house, three hours later. What have I done in that time? Not write. Anything but write. But I find it hard to remember what exactly I was doing.

I am like that woman who opens her mouth to say what’s wrong, but all that comes out are nursery rhymes and fairy tales–except far more mundane.

I do not know what I did do. A great series of empty tasks. All I know is that I haven’t written.

I sit to write.

Suddenly, I am striding the nested crescents at the bottom of the hill, looking at all the flame-new flowers of spring.

I sit to write.

Suddenly, I’m grocery shopping. Suddenly, dishes. Suddenly something needs to come clean that has been dirty for too long.

Time passes. I haven’t written.

I have been afraid of my alarms, these constant jerks to attention, the rigidity. I have been afraid of becoming that stern cousin in Jane Eyre, the cold one, who sets herself a task for every hour. I want to be Jane Eyre instead, who can enter her flow state and emerge victorious with a strange new painting. Who can be wholly absorbed in the task she sits to.

Instead, this enchantment.

I must invite absorption, snap out of this fugue. Why does it take me thirty minutes to put on my shoes? I don’t even need to look for them. They’re right where I left them.

It’s just… I sit to put on my shoes, and the next thing I know, I am in another room, brushing my teeth, examining the flame-new silver in my hair, making another meal I don’t need to eat.

No, no. I must break this enchantment.

I must choose the waves. Not to drown me. To call me back.

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The State of the Game: Negocios Infernales, a New Build!

A new blog at, the website that my husband Carlos Hernandez (writer, teacher, game designer) and I share! This one about the game we’re collaboratively designing: Negocios Infernales!

Carlos and I have been working on the instruction deck—“La Baraja de Consejos”—to accompany our oracle deck “La Baraja del Destino” for our game Negocios Infernales.

The seven sets of instructions are _almost_ done.

We also want to add in an affirmation deck at the beginning of Consejos. Something like “You, player, are great! You can’t be wrong! When in doubt, trust the cards! The cards are always right!”

That kind of thing. People get anxious with games sometimes, you know?

Anyway, as soon as these are done (SO CLOSE!), we are going to start RAMPING UP playtesting this summer: some virtual, but some NOT—as soon as all vax shots are current!

We hope to send a few decks to trusted friends/family out in the world to see how well this works as a GM-less, collaborative storytelling TTRPG game when *we* aren’t running it!


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FIREBREAK: An Interview, Dramatic Reading, and Audience Q&A with Nicole Kornher-Stace, Co-Hosted by Amal El-Mohtar!

Dear friends!

I am so happy to present to you, in celebration of Nicole Kornher-Stace‘s recent (yesterday!!!) release of her adult sci-fi novel Firebreak, a night to brighten our world by!

I shall, with my brilliant co-host Amal El-Mohtar (This Is How You Lose the Time War with Max Gladstone, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author and the New York Times Book Review‘s science fiction and fantasy columnist), have the honor of interviewing Nicole Kornher-Stace in a sort of “Ask Her Anything” style:

We will cover video games, climate change, big corporations, container gardens, homeschooling, ace/aro relationships in fiction, and whatever the heck else we can think of!

Then, the three of us will present a dramatic reading of a few excerpts from Firebreak. We will conclude with a Q&A with the audience!

Nicole and Amal and I have known each other for not-quite-two decades, and it is with great joy that we bring you this night.

Yours Truly,

C. S. E. Cooney

Please register for free at Eventbrite.

We close down tickets at noon EST on Saturday. We will send you a Zoom link Saturday afternoon, and we will see you on Saturday night at 8 EST!

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MarMar Mermaidpants Presents: A Mermaid Extravaganza!


May 2nd–THIS SUNDAY!–from 7 PM EDT–8:30 PM EDT

Join us for A Mermaid Extravaganza!

Hosted by MarMar Mermaidpants
(AKA Miriam Grill)
LIVE from her bathtub!

Come prepared!
You’ll need 3 things:

1.) Something Wet! (To drink!) (Or perhaps a foot bath!) 
2.) Something Salty! (To eat!) (Or again, maybe that foot bath!)
3.) Something to Remind You of the Sea! (Seashells!) (Sea-glass!) (Ropes of pearls!) (Or... a FOOT BATH!)

A Mermaid Extravaganza will feature:

The Musical Stylings of NEPTUNE’S OWN
Jeremy Cooney
(of Hail the Void podcast)

Makeup Artist Rhiannon Parker-Cooney
With tips on MERMAID MAKEUP:
“How to doll up those scales!”

An Interview with Julia Rios
Editor of Mermaids Monthly

A Dramatic Reading by Fantasy Writers
Carlos Hernandez
Yours Truly, C. S. E. Cooney
Bringing you their latest: “A Minnow, or Perhaps a Giant Squid”
JUST released in the latest issue of Mermaids Monthly!

We will end with a singalong of
“Scylla on the Rocks”
By Brimstone Rhine
Music and lyrics found here!

Costumes are encouraged!

Register for free at Eventbrite!

Poster by Mermaids Monthly editor Meg Frank


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Swordfleur Skullybed

for Kathleen Jennings
(from her Game of Squares prototype)

(Oh, this doggerel is VERY SILLY, ma belle amie–but it was so fun to play!)

Swordfleur Skullybed
Rose at her heart
Crypt at her head
Long black rapier gleaming bright
Crept to her love
On a brine-drowned night
Demoiselle La Tombstonetree
Saddled her mare
And galloped the sea
Churned those breakers white as lace
Challenged her love
To a game of chase
"Tree!" cried Fleur
"Oh, must thou fly?
Thine old gray mare is fleeing high
Had I an arrow to my name
I'd bolt her down 
And end thy game!"
"Fleur, my sapskull!"
Tree replied
"The game is this: I run and hide
And you, like brigand in full roar
Come run me down
Swordfleur Skullybed
Seized with despair
(And seeing red)
Wrapped her cloak around a breeze
And flew like a bat
To the place she pleased
(Where the crypt and the rose and the quiet reigned
Where the rain fell soft, and the glass bells rang
Where the demoiselles, all shanks and sharps
With eyes like pits and teeth like sharks
Were yet more kindly to their Fleur
Than Tombstonetree had been to her)
Demoiselle La Tombstonetree 
Wild as a wager 
And flying free
Waved farewell and galloped on
Forgot the hour
Forgot the dawn
(Forgot that the touch of the sun meant death
Would stop up her heart and rob her of breath
Would turn her to pearls, all luster and gloss
As pale as her lace, as gray as her horse
A tumble of pearls which would wash up on shore
To be gathered for garlands by faithful Fleur)
Swordfleur Skullybed
Loved by ladies
Long since dead
Gave all her garlands of pearls away
To any demoiselle
Who stayed

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The Last Fallen Star: Which Clan is Carlos?

In which my darling Carlos quizzes himself on @gracikim’s THE LAST FALLEN STAR, and adorns himself with FLASH TATTOOS.

(Hot dang! I love a handsome man in flash tattoos!)

Hey friends! Graci Kim is the latest Rick Riordan Presents author, and to celebrate the upcoming release of her book, Read Riordan has posted a quiz to help you figure out which of the many magical clans you would belong to, based on your personality! Check out my results in the video below! You can take the quiz yourself here!

(And don’t forget to pre-order!)

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La Carlotta in the Making

A Shakespearean Sonnet for Carla Kissane

by C. S. E. Cooney

Upon her rooftop in her raven wig
The actress plays for pigeons and a dream
Of one day strutting stately, in full rig
Onstage, performing live but not livestream
But meantime, every kettle is her cauldron
A-bubble with the witchcraft of her work
A neon feather boa for her pauldron
Her corset, shield; stiletto heel, her dirk
And though no one is watching, how she hones
Her craft, as though her lips drop gems and gold
How every kitchen chair becomes a throne
And solitude a canvas for the bold
O lady! Though these days have worn you fine
Just know: you put the "diva" in "divine"

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Join us for GHOULSPEAK!

Join the creators of GHOUL vol. II—an art zine with campy-horror vibes—for a reading of poetry, short stories, & an artists’ process talk!

About this Event

Join the contributors of Ghoul vol. II for a night of reading campy stories and poetry, talking process (both the artistic process and the business of zine-making), and showing off some really amazing art.

Meet Brett Masse, editor, artist, and designer of Ghoul II, as well as Aaron Byrd (writer), Crystal Hartman (artist), Skull Mouth (artist, cartoonist), Arista Slater-Sandoval (photographer), Patty Templeton (writer), and yours truly, C. S. E. Cooney (poet)! Hear us chat and ask us your questions!

We’ll be WICKED GLAD to see you!


Meet the Creators

Brett Massé is a graphic designer and artist focused on work centered around art, design, and games, with an emphasis on subcultures, DIY philosophies, and sociopolitical critiques of an instinct-driven society’s impact on technology and culture, making particular note to its influence on the environment!He lives with a cat named Boombox. Lately he’s been catching up on samurai movies and designing zines–LIKE GHOUL vol. II!!!
Patty Templeton is a writer, archivist, artist, and itinerant kitchen dancer. She was a 2020 Library of Congress Junior Fellow, is a provisional member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, and the author of the historical fantasy novel, There is No Lovely End. She enjoys hot coffee, loud rock shows, and reading while wrapped in rhinestones.
Aaron Byrd is a writer and father. Previously a logistics manager for a brewing equipment company, he now writes fantastic stories for his D&D group and recites poetry to his aquariums full of snails and floating plants.
His son is a dinosaur.
Crystal Hartman is an artist and jeweler working in process oriented traditions to meet the abstract with a formalism guided by an appreciation for nature, figure (botanical, entomological, and mammalian), the balance of light and shadows, the feminine, ritual, and the act of gathering rooted in shared evolutionary histories.

Her artwork has been shown at locations such as the Center for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona Spain, the National Palace of Culture, Sophia Bulgaria and The Lill Street Art Gallery, Chicago Illinois.
After studying Femininity in Argentine Society, filming with Null Skateboards in Spain, teaching and studying public art and cultural craft in Chaing Mai, Thailand, with an appreciation for cultural diversity she returned home to Colorado to found and direct a Studio Tour and relish in the local arts community. Currently maintaining a studio in Urbana Illinois, Hartman’s focus is directed at carving wax, and developing a concept of becoming relative to home and livable futures.

An advocate for the environment and for the literary arts, her visual reviews and collaborations can be found in select literary journals including La Piccoleta Barca, CutBank Literary Journal, Interrupture Magazine, and A5 Magazine. Crystal Hartman Art Jewelry can be found at select galleries and fine jewelry stores throughout the states.
Arista Slater-Sandoval was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan and moved in 2007 to Washington D.C. to pursue a BFA in photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. While there she completed a 5 months Teachers Assistance and residency program in New York city at the Center for Alternative Photography.

After completing a BFA, she moved to Cambridge MA, and attend the College of Art and Design at Lesley University where she obtained a MFA in Fine Art Photography in 2013. While in grad school she pursued issues in communication, identity, love and romance thought alternative photographic processes.
Since moving to Santa Fe in 2016, she teaches full time at the Institute of American Indian Art while balancing studio time. She continues to work in alternative photographic processes and approaches while tackling large issues in feminine and multi-racial representation, domestic spheres and intimate relationships.
Cartoonist Skull Mouth‘s work speaks for itself. Follow his work here.

Donate to the Navajo and Hopi Families Covid Relief Fund here.


C.S.E. Cooney is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, and author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories.

Her novel Saint Death’s Daughter comes out from Solaris in 2022. Find her 2020 novel The Twice-Drowned Saint in A Sinister Quartet, an anthology of long fiction by Mythic Delirium. Her novella Desdemona and the Deep was published by in 2019.

Her poetry collection How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes features the Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride,”  and her short fiction can be found in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and elsewhere.

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