Hernandez, reading

What strikes me tonight, as Hernandez reads “Entanglements” from new anthology Latin@ Rising, is first, his introduction.

He comes onstage smiling, and he begins by thanking everybody. He thanks the Twenty Sided Store who hosts us, Chris Kreuter for Emceeing us, the audience, everyone.

It is as if the story he is about to tell is his home, and he is set on becoming the host of that small but infinite space. By taking the stage, by expressing his gratitude, he opens his door and ushers us all in.

There is, on his face, an expression of almost beatific sweetness.

It is a smile that hovers over him like a halo. It never quite leaves his face, even during the direst and darkest of passages, but takes on a curve of bitterness here, a pang of helplessness there, shades of rage, or hunger, or desire. Throughout, the glow of that smile lingers at his cheekbones, illumines his eyes.

It always begins and ends with gratitude, with him. As if it weren’t our honor just to be in his presence, listening to him read. And such stories!

Anyway, I have a lot to learn from him. Not least of which, to remember that we must take nothing for granted. This time, this attention, this space, this place, these people. To express our warmest and most genuine welcome in gratitude, to open the door into our stories with joyful grace.

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Krampus, Baby

Krampus baby, slip a birch switch under the tree, for me
Been an awful bad girl
Krampus baby, so slither down my chimney tonight

Krampus baby, a scourging purge with your little lash, then smash
All the bones in my hand
Krampus baby, come slither down my chimney tonight

Think of all the hell I’ve raised
Think of all the fellas that I plagued and hazed
Steep me in your cauldron deep
And cook me till I’m nice and braised

Krampus honey, a suit of fur would just make me purr, for sure
Been a devil all year
Krampus baby, so slither down my chimney tonight

Krampus cutie, there’s one thing that I really do need, to bleed
In a cauldron of limbs
Krampus cutie, so slither down the chimney tonight

Krampus baby, of predators you are the apex, you vex
And you hex all the time
Krampus baby, so slither down the chimney tonight

Come infest my Krampus nest
With flogs and chains and horns and hooves and all the rest
Krampus, I’m obsessed with you
You’re better than the very best

Krampus baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
Yes, I mean through my nose
Krampus baby, come slither down the chimney tonight
Slither down my chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight

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The Archivist

for Jeremy Brett

He was the archivist, hive artist, building bee of book queens
Cataloguer, stargazer, keeper of the histories
Time-tender, mind-bender, guardian of the garden
(Opus-blossom, tome-bloom, orchid of the quarto moon)
Dictionary sentry, vede mecum warden
Softcover sentinel, steward of the volume
Compendium custodian, defender of the lexicon
Minister of monk scrolls, occult apothecary
Poetry protector and conservator of copy
Encyclopedic overseer, dissertation sentry
Omnibusboy, page of pamphlets, prince of printed leaflets
Codex cad, thesaurus rex, treatise tarot reader
Monarch of the monographs, anarchist of albums
Archivist, hive artist, Atlas of the atlas


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Medusa Mia! Pre-Show That Never Will Be!

Due to OUR change of venue, we are unable to get our hands on a projector screen for this SUPERFUN PRE-SHOW Carlos Hernandez and I put together!

What we’d meant to do was have these images, multiple choices, and “unfun” facts for the PRE-SHOW, and then RE-USE the images DURING the show, pairing with the songs we chose them for.

So, after you watch, just imagine REPLAYING it with the following in mind.


(MEDUSA) 1. OVID’S “MEDUSA”/Song: Cootchie Cootchie, Medusa Baby
(DIDO) 2. Dido’s lament “WHEN I AM LAID IN EARTH”/Song: Dido in Effigy
(MEDEA) 3. EURIPIDES “MEDEA”/Song: Medea’s Dragon
(CIRCE) 4. HOMER’S “CIRCE” / Song: Circe embedded


(ARIEL) 1.Song: Gentle Caliban/Liz Duffy Adams’ play: “BECALMED”
(WITCH) 2. Song: Black Widow’s Waltz/“GOOD NEIGHBORS” (Jessica Wick)
(KITSUNE) 3. Song: Foxgirl Song Cycle 1
(WAR) 4. Julia Rios’s “YET I BREATHE”/Amal El-Mohtar’s”Pieces”/Song: Lady Knight / Pale Lady
(ROOSTER) 5. Carlos Herandanez’s “In Lieu of the Stories My Santera Abuela Should Have Told Me Herself, This Poem”
(BANSHEE) 6. Song: Maggot the Banshee
(NAGINI) 7. “NAGINI’S NIGHT SONG” (by Shveta Thakrar) / Song: Barrow Brine embedded
(LYSISTRATA) 8. “LYSISTRATA” SCENE/Song/Parade: Lysistrata, Strut Your Stuff

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Call & Response, by Fran Wilde & C.S.E. Cooney

A Facebook Private Message Collaboration! Sort of by accident. Meteoric brightness in this gray.


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Jack and Jill and the Old Silver Moon

dedicated to Anthony John Woo
inspired by Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meaning of Nursery Rhymes by Albert Jack

Jack, said his sister
I’m thirsty and sore
Let’s seek out the well of the moon
His water so silver
Runs endless and sweet
A drop or I’ll perish soon

Jill, said her brother
It’s thieves we will be
The two of us rascals and lords
We’ll fly to the moon
And we’ll drink of his well
And steal all the gems of his horde

The moon has a cannon
As white as an egg
It blisters and blusters and roars
It blunders and thunders
And CRACK! goes your pate
And down falls your head ever more

Now Jill is a beggar
And Jack is an urchin
And long burn the stars in the night
They watch the youths climb
Through the murk and the grime
To steal them a pail full of light

Boom! goes the moon
And the white cannon fires
And thus a new crater is born
The bucket lies broken
The children the same
With none but the stars left to mourn

Jack, said his sister
We’ve had an adventure
Jill, said her brother, it’s true
And if I must die
Well, I’ll die in the sky
And at least at the end, it’s with you

The moon, he was moved
Like a god on his throne
And so, like a god, he was kind
The dust of their tongues
Did he lay with a kiss
And they turned all to silver so fine

Now Jill is the queen
Of the well of the moon
And Jack is the king of the egg
It’s on them to mete out
their mercy or murder
To children too hungry to beg

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AUCTIONS FOR ACTION! My Contribution! Benefits ACLU!

9781618730978_bigMy friend Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of ARCHIVIST WASP, created this AUCTIONS FOR ACTION page.


We’re here to auction items (art, books, handcrafted items, baked goods, whatever!) to benefit the ACLU. Ongoing as long as there’s interest!

Here’s how it works:


1.) List each item in a separate post under the “Sell Something” tab.

2.) Set a starting bid and end time, and whether you are covering shipping cost or the buyer will need to pay for it.

3.) When your auction is over, post that it has ended and contact your buyer.

4.) The buyer will provide a shipping address and proof of donation to the ACLU in the amount of the winning bid.

Bone_Swans_mockup_ALT-15.) If you are not covering shipping costs, you will need to get them Paypaled to you by the winning bidder.

6.) Ship your item as agreed upon with the buyer.


1.) Bid on items in their own threads. Note what time your auction is ending.

2.) If you win, provide your shipping address to the seller.

3.) Make a donation to the ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/donate-aclu) in the amount of your winning bid and send the seller proof of your donation.

4.) If shipping costs are not covered by the seller, you will need to pay them to the seller separately.


heap-of-cseI myself have listed two items:



1. World Fantasy Award-winning story collection, BONE SWANS.
2. Papaveria-published poetry collection: HOW TO FLIRT IN FAERIELAND AND OTHER WILD RHYMES (includes Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.”
3. JACK O’ THE HILLS, one of the “Wonder Tales” imprints by Papaveria.
4. THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2016, edited by Rich Horton, including C. S. E. Cooney’s novella “THE TWO PAUPERS

Shipping included. Bid ends December 15th, Midnight EST!
brimming-with-brimstoneBRIMMING WITH BRIMSTONE

1. Brimstone Rhine CD, including two EPs “Alecto! Alecto!” and “The Headless Bride.”
2. Brimstone Rhine album print, signed by Brimstone Rhine (AKA C. S. E. Cooney)
3. LIMITED EDITION PRINT of forthcoming backer’s album CORBEAU BLANC, CORBEAU NOIR. Art by “The Dread” Patty Templeton, signed by artist and Brimstone Rhine (AKA C. S. E. Cooney

Shipping included. Bidding ends December 15th at midnight, EST.

AGAIN, here’s the whole AUCTIONS FOR ACTION PAGE to see all the other WONDERFUL THINGS you can bid on!

Thank you so much,

C. S. E. Cooney



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Dismembered But Still Singing

dismembered but still singing
the musician floats down sorrow river

even now
they retain their sense of glamour

maybe it’s the sequins, the high-and-lowlights
or reverb from a lav mic clipped to their rhinestone collar
(and this, all this
gore-caked now, glitterlessly blasé
from the surgical frenzy of that last great show)

the musician sings Ogden Nashish rhymes
to the melody of a dusty velvet aria
they are

about time signature, tradition
key change, coming in sharp, loss of lyrics
addled eggs

adulatory flowers
released in startled arcs
from the palms of a perspiring audience, like
a magician’s emaciated doves

mouth open, water lapping
they sing,

not even a laryngectomee’s wheeze through the stoma
not even that

but there is lipstick, at least
on that bloodless face

stylishly smeared


C. S. E. Cooney

December 6th, 2016

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All I Want For My Birthday Is . . . (A Helpful List)

First of all, all I want for my birthday is . . .

. . . a concert featuring all my favorite monsters, myths, queens, and witches.

. . . performed by poets and actors and writers who happen to be my dear friends.

. . . wherein I get to sing songs I wrote, because WHERE ELSE DO I GET TO SING ‘EM??? (Just call me “Florence Foster Jenkins!”) 

. . . and give any proceeds from this concert to our local food pantry / thrift store / social services and education center, THE JONNYCAKE CENTER OF WESTERLY!

Not a lot to ask, I know!

And I wouldn’t have asked it of anyone. I wanted to give this to ME for a present.

To do that, I embarked on my ¡MEDUSA MIA! project.

Now, I know–not all of you (my, like, five dear friends who actually read this) can make this event.

Aaaaaand I admit, sheepishly, the out of pocket cost for this concert is daily growing steeper than I’d originally anticipated (especially because, since embarking on my plans, I impulsively finished paying off one of my college loans, thus decimating my savings account somewhat).


If you (friends and family), MAYBE had been planning on getting me a LEETLE PRESENT, I ask you to consider instead . . .


I’ll be sure it goes to the CARE AND FEEDING OF ARTISTS, the RENTING of SOUND and LIGHTING equipment and the LABOR with which to operate it.

And I promise, anything leftover WILL BE DONATED TO THE JONNYCAKE!

If you LOVE GIVING PRESENTS but you don’t HAVE THE MONEY (a position I’ve been in SO MUCH OF MY LIFE), please spread the word on Social Media!


And thank you. Thank you. I love this singing, this making art.

I love this turning of songs into food for the hungry.


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November, in all its . . .

winners-1024x711I have been wanting to blog, but Facebook has been a kind of time-sink this last month.

Since last I blogged . . .

  • I won the World Fantasy Award for Bone Swans (had adventures driving to Columbus in driving rain Friday night rush-hour lower Manhattan and Jersey City traffic, with Carlos Hernandez and Jessica Wick; we split a hotel room with John O’Neill of Black Gate and writer Patty Templeton; I got terribly sick; gave a silly but heartfelt speech; had more adventures driving back)
  • The elections (and fallout)
  • I signed a contract to narrate the audiobook of Bone Swans for Tantor
  • My father, stepmother, and Gary Daigle also came to town to give a concert
  • My beloved Hernandez got into Rich Horton’s Year’s Best 2017, with “The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory”—one of his amazing Gabi Réal stories

So, you see. November. A mixed bag here at the Belfry. We try to keep active, to take our poison in small doses (we try very hard; we often fail), extract use from fury, remain kind when we can, and read a lot of Terri Windling blogs. Like this one, on DARK BEAUTY.

I’m not ready to blow up 2016, and I won’t be—until January 1st, 2017. (Although I did appreciate John Oliver doing it. As a musician friend of mine once said, about François Rabbath defenestrating his double bass: “It’s always funny when you throw something out a window.”)

The thing is, I saw people ready to blow up the year way back in January. All year long, friends have been figuratively blowing up the year, the month, the week, the day—things were and/or seemed that bad. But things have always been bad. If not here, then elsewhere. Everywhere.

This is all we have. And although I like fireworks and drama as much as the next person, I am going to wrestle this colossus of a year, this global darkness and local joy, this thing called 2016, until it shrinks to seed-size and is reborn as 2017.

2017 is going to be hard enough without us giving up on it before it begins.

So. It’s time to listen to some music. Cohen’s YOU WANT IT DARKER, Simon’s STRANGER TO STRANGER, S. J. Tucker’s MOVING MEDITATION, anything. Everything. Music will help. And food. And helping other people.

To that end, we’re doing a concert in December, and all proceeds will benefit our local food pantry.


And here’s the flyer:

And here’s the set list:


ACT 1: Classics

OVID’S “MEDUSA” (Christie Max Williams)

Song: Cootchie Cootchie, Medusa Baby

“WHEN I AM LAID IN EARTH” (Anne Flammang, Faye Ringel)

Song: Dido in Effigy

“MEDEA” MONOLOGUE (Miriam Mikiel Grill)

Song: Medea’s Dragon

HOMER’S “CIRCE” / Song: Circe embedded (Liz Duff Adams, Julia Rios, Dorian Mendez)

“THE JABBERWOCKY” (Kelsey Alexander, Carlos Hernandez, Shveta Thakrar, Eric Michaelian,Christie Max Williams, Jessica Wick)

Song: The Jub Jub

ACT 2: Contemporary

Song: Gentle Caliban

10 Minute Play: “BECALMED” (Miriam, Eric, Anne, Kelsey)

Song: Black Widow’s Waltz

“GOOD NEIGHBORS” (Jessica Wick)

Song: Foxgirl Song Cycle 1

“YET I BREATHE” (by Julia Rios, with Kelsey, Eric, Dorian, Liz, Christie, Jessica, Shveta)

Song: Lady Knight / Pale Lady

“In Lieu of the Stories My Santera Abuela Should Have Told Me Herself, This Poem” (by Carlos Hernandez, with Kelsey Alexander)

Song: Maggot

“NAGINI’S NIGHT SONG” (by Shveta Thakrar) / Song: Barrow Brine embedded

“LYSISTRATA” SCENE (Julia, Liz, Dorian, Anne)

Song/Parade: Lysistrata, Strut Your Stuff

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