Poetry: A HOME IN THE WORDS

smiling woman using laptop

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Home, in spite of the house.

Home, in spite of the neighborhood.

By the fourth grade, the many homes I’d had

Could be counted on two hands.

Make new friends, be social,

Strike up conversations to be normal.

I talked with words,

Hoping to find another

Who would talk similar words at me

So we would have some words in common

To talk about.

Report cards chastised my love of words—

“She talks a lot.”

“She talks too much.”

“She talks in class.”

Little girl, hush!

Home, in spite of the city.

Home, in spite of the state.

The state lines blurred and swirled in my head

Class clown or introvert?

But the truth is, when the talking came

To a merciful stop,

That was home.

School bus rides spent in solitude,

Left to my thoughts.

An inconspicuous corner in the park

To people-watch.

Quietly learning things

That can’t be taught.

Silently yearning

To accompany none.

To simply be

In the comforting company of one.

Alone.

Talk is tiresome.

And I’ve talked for too many years.

Home, in spite of society.

Home, in spite of deity.

I covet, I desire, I lust to communicate.

It’s a sin to have waited this long.

To let these words languish,

Unused and unloved.

Herds of unwritten pages

Penned and left silent

Under the varnish of a social façade,

Confused and shoved aside.

The words that aim to hit a woman’s heart,

Not her eardrum.

The words that pull laughter from a man

Residing in the slum of his despair.

The words that inspire the inner child,

Not to give way to fear,

But to demand fear bows at their feet.

Smiling, no matter how many tears scroll down their cheeks.

Surviving collateral damage in the years they toil to be unique.

Braving the verbal batter all the peers who scold their defeat.

Home is right where I write.

Home is right where I think.

Home lies in the honesty of humor, humanity, honor and humility.

Home is in the words

That haunt and transcend language.

And they linger, patient

In the periphery

Needing no translation.

It is the holy dialect of our motherland.

That is the tongue I long to speak.

By: Erica Ruhe 

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Short Story: I’m Coming

photo of couple kissing in hallway

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

….and it’s over before I know it. A brief instant of ecstasy that fills me up to the brim.

Creating rainbow-colored clouds beneath my feet lifting me up to momentary heaven.

I am standing below the stage looking up at you. You stand over me with a regal posture. You own the universe. Your vibrant voice rings in my ears; it slides beneath every single pore to become a part of me. To become one with my essence.

Your eyes dive into mine. I can feel you swimming in my veins. You offer me a smile. I return it. You begin to walk down the stage stairs. The lights following every single minimal move you make.

The air is balmy inside the venue. My black lace top clings to my dewy skin. I try not to pay attention to the pain that shoots up and down my legs like miniature electric bolts. Five hours of standing on eight-inch heels make me realize that I hadn’t thought about the possible torture that I was going to subject myself to when I had pulled my knee-high leather boots over my feet.

You pass by the shouting girls. They are dying for your attention. But your eyes are locked on mine. I don’t look away. I fall into your gaze. I am going down a one-way spiral, and at the end of it, there is only you. I am taken into another realm…

Our bodies compress in a sweaty haze. You cling to my lips, sucking on them. Not wanting to let me go. Brown curls fell carelessly over your eyes. My hand reaches up to move them away. I am breathless. I want to savor the moment, as it was my last.

Breath against breath, lips against lips, naked flesh against naked flesh…

“Don’t forget to keep me alive in your mind,” you sing to me as I jump out of my daydream.

Your movements are graceful, feline. I can only plead that you will come nearer.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”
Your eyes are burning tiny crevices in the center of my irises. My body is all giving. As well as all receiving.

And then you touch me….

That voice…those eyes…my hand traveling down the contours of my body. It runs over my plump breasts, my thumbnail grazing over my nipples. It shifts down to my navel and passes it, lowering itself down a little further. My hand is greeted by softness. My two fingers probe at its entrance that is enveloped in musky wetness.

There’s no need for knocking, a simple push and the door is opened. The two fingers cruise down a dark and humid corridor, a thrilling chill tingles throughout my body. I smile at you.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”

Suddenly I can’t control my fingers anymore. They have a life of their own as they break into a frenzied rhythm. Faster…faster…faster…

I hear a shrill in my ears and my breath gets caught in my lungs but my fingers don’t stop. Faster…faster…faster…

My body is burning. Sweat slithers down like a sensuous snake. I feel a pounding in my head as though my membrane is being nailed to my skull.

I see you. I hear you.

And my body abandons itself to the senses. The wetness around my fingers contracts, tightening its grip on them. The wetness increases. It swells up like water in a dam until the dam is broken and there’s no turning back. Shocks race up and down my body. My vision blurs. Your face becomes a tapestry of vibrant colors. And then it fades to the bleakest black. The wetness releases its iron grip on my fingers. Liberating them in a yielding manner. They slide out of the murky tunnel restless and defeated.

I bring my hand up to my lips. My tongue flickers at the opaque whiteness coated on my fingers. You smile at me. I smile back.

Your hand loosens its grasp on my shoulder. You walk away. I am breathless. My knees feel weak as though they’re going to give in. I see you walking back up towards the stage. You look down at me and smile. I smile back at you, my body pricking from the aftershocks. My breath comes back to me. I am able to breathe again. My heart slows down to a normal sequence. My fingers are coated with your glitter. My tongue flutters at the tiny red specs of luminance. You smile down at me. I smile back. The pain in my feet makes itself be heard again. I look down.

“See you next time!” you shout.

I look up in time to see you smile at me one last time. I smile back and blow you a kiss that you pay no attention to.

My senses go dormant and it’s over before I know it.

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Poetry: California Wildfire

fire

Our first kiss was in the depths of a

Fetish Room

It was summer, the time of year

For love to blossom like wild daisies

We burned bright and dangerous

A forest fire gone rogue

Suddenly, I felt more daring

Not thinking about tomorrow

The killer of passion

All I wanted to think about

Was how your kisses

Ignited fireworks in me

Exploding into the brightest colors

Whenever we were in the same room

We transformed into a danger zone

Our flames devouring the walls

And although our hearts had

No fire escape to lead us out

We kept on playing Russian roulette

Loading our guns with six bullets

Because death by love

Was ultimately better than

A slow, tedious death.

***

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

Celebrate National Poetry Month!

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Poetry: Bad Habit

I’m like a smoker

In need of a cigarette

I need you, even if

I know you’re detrimental

To my health

But the rush you give me

Is worth more

Than saving myself.

smoke

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

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Happy New Year & 2020 Goals

2020

Happy New Year, peeps! I hope that the new year has begun with a bang or at least in a very pleasant way! Just like the years before, I’ve decided to see what goals I had set last year and what I accomplished during the year, and also what my new goals are for the new year.

2019 Goals & What I accomplished

  • Finish writing Girl That You Fear (DONE, just need to edit now)
  • Finish short story Pink Rabbits (Didn’t do, but DID write Fragile Fruit with Erica Ruhe and will be published by Running Wild Press this summer and also have my short story, Good Sister Bad Sister appear in Betty Bites Back)
  • Write Screenplay (Didn’t happen, but DID begin to write a screenplay)
  • Read over 50 books (I actually read 64)
  • I wanted to focus more on book reviews & author interviews and I did
  • I wanted to try more cream-based cosmetics and I did (esp. from Glossier)
  • I wanted to cover more events but didn’t see any that I was interested in, although I did get to cover Comic-Con and Shriekfest.

2020 GOALS

Writing

  • Edit my novel Girl that You Fear & send to agents
  • Finish editing my novel Wicked Game
  • Write a short film screenplay so I can send to Crypt TV
  • Write a feature-length screenplay
  • Complete another poetry book
  • Promote Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology 

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books

Beauty

  • I’ll make this the year that I’ll actually give lip gloss a fair chance (been thinking about trying out either Jeffree Star’s lipglosses or Glossier’s lipgloss)
  • Offer new colours for my Nox Girl Cosmetics Shop
  • Sleep more
  • Try new subscription boxes

Blogging

  • More reviews: films, beauty products, & books
  • Increase readership
  • Will continue my Throwback Thursday segments but won’t do it once a month like last year but once every 2 months
  • Will begin a new segment in my blog that will be once a month called “Love or Hype?” where I’ll try out, watch, read or listen to something that is uber popular but I have never given in to and will report back if I DID enjoy it or if it was just hyped up.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR?

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Travel Post – New York (Part 2)

A Souvenir from the Robert McKee Genre Fest

A souvenir from the Robert McKee Genre Fest 

The first day in McKee’s genre fest was dedicated to horror. Ask me five years ago if I’d be writing my own tales about the darker side of life and I would have told you you’re mad. Nowadays I see the beauty in plumbing the dank, dreary depths of the human condition. Fear is a powerful force. It tears off the mask we wear for social acceptance and sinks its claws right into our subconscious. Horror is the one genre that has the potential to reveal our true selves: the good, the bad and the repulsive. It’s also a powerful medium for society’s response to polarizing topics like war, political corruption, and racism. Take the film Get Out for instance. Try to reframe that story as a simple family drama and see if it makes the same impact. Mr. McKee’s presentation had a lineup of film clips that demonstrated superb examples of spooky cinematography tricks, scare tactics and underlying themes in horror: eternal damnation, the monster within, and not so surprisingly, sex.

Since sex is such an anxiety-inducing topic for many Americans, it makes sense that this would be a core element in most U.S. horror films. And it was soon after Mr. McKee made this point that I observed a relevant example of this from the audience around me; a distinct difference in how horror affects us depending on our gender. Now I must take a small detour down a dark and thorny path. The especially squeamish may want to skip the next paragraph.

Out of all the horrific imagery of bizarre gore and gratuitous violence seen that day, do you know what elicited an audible groan from the men in the audience? The scene that made them most uncomfortable? A small, infamous snippet from the 1978 film, I Spit On Your Grave. Without getting too graphic, it involves a woman murdering a man out of revenge by cutting off his “ahem” and locking him in the bathroom to bleed out in a bathtub. Absolutely vile and cringe-worthy? Of course. But speaking from a female-identifying perspective, where the sexual violation and abuse of women is sadly a historical norm, this kind of sexual violence against a human body seems almost run-of-the-mill.

The fact that it happened to a man, however, is not.

It was a jarring example of how removed from empathy a majority of men are when considering the trauma many women live through every day. I don’t necessarily fault men for this, but consider how many countless films depict the sexual violation of women. How often do you see men squirming in their seats or averting their eyes at such a scene? It’s a dark, twisted perpetuation of human behavior that the patriarchal society shrugs at because, well, that’s just how it’s always been. The terrible truth is that most women will suffer some form(s) of physical abuse in their life because of their sex, especially in minority and trans communities. I’m in no way devaluing the experiences of male-identifying individuals who have suffered similar abuse. I only aim to point out an observation that a strong majority of the male population don’t seem quite as affected by the representation of violence against a person’s sex…until it’s their own. As gender fluidity increases in society, it is my hope that we’ll empathize beyond our own corporal boundaries and realize that harm to any“body” is intolerable.

I’ll step down from my soapbox now.

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Autumn in New York

The following seminars were just as eye-opening. Every day Mr. McKee broke down a film scene by scene, pointing out all the key genre elements that made it a successful story. I hadn’t seen Bridges of Madison County before this seminar and let me tell you, I cried like I had just seen a parade of dead puppies. It was very embarrassing to be sobbing and sopping snot from my nose in front of fellow colleagues. Good stories are supposed to move us, whether it’s wetting our seat in fear or doubling over in a fit of silent laughter…you know the kind where your face is frozen in an ugly-cry expression, your nostrils flare and you can’t breathe. A good story gives us a memorable experience and binds us together because of it.

For any budding writers out there, I can say whole-heartedly that Mr. McKee’s seminars are worth every penny. (No, I’m not being paid to write this.) I’ve dedicated most of my free time outside of writing to study great works in film, television, and literature and I like to think I have a pretty solid foundation of what makes a good story tick. I even expose myself to some pretty terrible material to understand why it’s so bad. But Mr. McKee’s complete and thorough understanding of successful story structure made me realize I still had more to learn. And I was most impressed by his genuine love of sharing this knowledge. He engaged us in thought-provoking debates and on every break throughout the day he made himself available for one-on-one questions, conversation and book signings. Nothing about his presentation felt mechanical. I can only imagine how many times he’s given these same lectures and been asked the same questions, yet he approached each day’s lecture with the enthusiasm of a passionate, seasoned professor. I left these seminars invigorated and inspired, eager to bring new energy and a critical eye to my works in progress.

Veteran's Day Parade Preparations.jpg

Veteran’s Day Parade preparations 

On the final morning of my stay, the city was buzzing with more activity than usual. It was Monday, November 11th and the streets around Madison Square Park were clogged with motorcyclists, floats and hundreds of uniformed men and women for the annual Veteran’s Day parade. I found myself surrounded by military faces easily 15+ years younger than me. Kids, really; each one with an air of discipline beyond their years. I had to leave before the parade kicked off but the celebration of honor and gratitude for all these service members lifted my spirits for the trip back home. I’m glad I gave myself permission to enjoy this little sidetrack. Sometimes being a responsible adult means making time for that little kid inside you that tugs your sleeve, points to your heart’s desires and says, “Let’s do that!”

Veteran's Day Parade.jpg

Veteran’s Day Parade

By: Erica Ruhe

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6 Things I’m Thankful For

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope that you’re all having a wonderful Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating, but while we stuff our faces with all the ham, sweet potatoes, and pies, I just wanted to take the time to give things to the things I have in my life.

HEALTH

This is something that we all take a little bit for granted when we’ve got good health. It’s only when you have bad health is when you’re thinking about what you took for granted. I’m lucky to be healthy with functioning limbs. So I want to give thanks for having good health.

FAMILY & FRIENDS

Family can sometimes drive you crazy, but I do love my family very much. I also love my friends very much too. Many of them I’ve been friends with since my teens. But I’ve been lucky also with the new friends I’ve encountered in my adult life. One thing I know for certain is that I can always rely on my family and friends for support and that makes getting through life a little easier.

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Halloween 2015, we had only been dating for 3 months.

LOVE

I’m kind of private when it comes to my personal life (or at least sharing it online). But I feel blessed that a few years ago I finally met my soulmate (we’re currently engaged!). I spent my early twenties dealing with terrible relationships that I kind of associated love with pain. But it doesn’t have to be that way! True love will uplift you and not hurt you. True love allows the best part of you to shine, and I feel that I’m truly my best now with my fiance.

PASSION

Life would be quite dull for me without my passion for writing. I am thankful for my passion because it gives me a purpose and it also fills me with happiness.

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One of my pups, Nico

PETS

Even on a bad day, I love my pups who are always excited to see me. They instantly lift my spirits and are always so silly that they make me laugh even on the worst of days. I am thankful that they came into my life (I didn’t go to a rescue to find them, I literally found them on the streets).

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My book Bleed Like Me at The Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City, California

READERS

If you’re reading my books or you read my blog, THANK YOU. I appreciate my readers and am thankful that out of all the authors and bloggers out there you chose to read my work. An artist can’t exist in a vacuum without an audience and I am very appreciative of mine.

What are a few things that you are thankful for?

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Throwback Thursday: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

scare

I was 9 years old when I first came across Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Being a fan of horror, I was incredibly excited about this anthology as it documented various stories that derived from urban legends, folklore, or myths. I was completely hooked. I used the book as a means to inspire my own “scary stories sharing” escapades (which happened often during sleepovers or late summer nights hanging out with friends).

Apart from the stories themselves, what really set this book apart was the illustrations by Stephen Gammell. Often times, for a seasoned horror connoisseur as myself, the stories alone weren’t terrifying enough. But those illustrations! Boy were they ever the nightmare-inducing high that I was searching for.

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I have yet to see the movie from Guillermo Del Toro inspired by the anthology, but being a fan of his past work, I’m certain that he remained faithful to the vision of the illustrations (at least that’s what I could tell from the trailers).

Recently, I decided to reread the stories (my original copies are stashed away in boxes somewhere in my garage in Sicily) so I had to repurchase the books. Luckily, these new editions haven’t strayed from the original, as I heard that for awhile they had done away with Gammell’s illustrations and replaced them with a more kid-friendly version. (Bah!)

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Upon rereading the stories, I realized that I still enjoy them and that I have a damn good memory as decades later I’m still capable of remembering how each of the stories would end. As far as the illustrations go, they’re just as deliciously terrifying today as I thought they were when I was a mere nugget of 9.

But if you’re never read this horror classic, I highly suggest that you do. It’s equal parts campy and horrifying. I still can’t get over the story of the girl that has spiders protruding from her cheek (which I’m sure the movie The Believers capitalized on for a certain scene). Body horror has always been more frightening to me than a million clowns ever could be.

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Cover Reveal & Pre-Order for Strange Girls – Women in Horror Anthology

If you follow this blog or follow me on Twitter, then you may know that I’ve been busy putting together another Women in Horror Anthology. The good news is, I’ve finally sen up a pub date! Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology will be coming out February 18 (I thought a February date would make the most sense since it is Women in Horror Month!). But if you wish to be uber cool and support some amazing talent, then the book is set for pre-order here (a print copy will be available to order upon publication date).

Curious about what kind of stories you may find? Below is a quick synopsis for each short story found in the anthology:

Strange Girls - High Resolution

Her Garden Grows by Maxine Kollar

I belong to Rosamund now. You can’t save her.

Revival by Madison Estes

While grieving the loss of his sister, a medical student begins to suspect his laboratory cadaver is still alive. She shows signs of life, leading him to question his reality. He must decide how far he is willing to go to save her—if she can be saved at all.

Sideshow by Jude Reid

Everyone knows Ritchie and Sylvia are the perfect couple—everyone, that is, except for Sylvia, who’s walking the narrow line between the “yes” she doesn’t feel and the “no” she can’t bring herself to say. It takes a trip to the travelling Carnival, a tin duck, a strip show and a snake with amber eyes to teach her—and Ritchie—a lesson they won’t forget.

Jenny’s Bobo by Hillary Lyon

He’s her best friend; more stealthy than a cat, more loyal than a dog. But what happens when a clever teenage girl hijacks her parents’ most demonic asset for her own ends?

24 Hour Diner by Charlotte Platt

A young server in a 24-hour diner wiles his life away, watching the clock and waiting for something interesting to happen. When a beautiful homeless woman brings a colourful arc of intrigue in with her, he has no intention of letting that slip through his fingers.

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings by Emma Johnson-Rivard

A small-town legend is remembered in brutal and sometimes extremely dry detail. It concerns a man, a woman, and a strange town up in the North Woods.

Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns

It’s not easy being a teenager who identifies as non-binary. Especially when your new crush turns out to have some very dark appetites….

My Mirror Wife by Ash Tudor

Amelia’s beauty is formidable, but Ethan is a professional and introduces himself with the deadly charm of a true hunter. As their encounter changes into something intimate it becomes unclear who is hunting who, and beneath her mask of loveliness Amelia hides a simple yet lethal truth; she loves her husband.

Tribal Influence by Erica Ruhe

A skirmish in a detention center on the Texas-Mexico border uncovers an opportunity for a unique weapon of mass destruction — an innocent asylum seeker with the power to influence the emotions of others. And the U.S. military wants dibs. For Colonel Carl Holden, harnessing Joaquina’s supernatural abilities have proven challenging and he is forced to bring in his old colleague and bitter rival, Dr. Hector Espinoza, for help. Working through his own moral reservations, Hector’s efforts will reveal Joaquina’s terrifying potential and Carl’s hidden agenda but the breakthrough will come at a heavy cost to them all…

Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine

In an isolated mountain town centered around a secretive research facility, a teen girl struggles to distinguish nightmares from reality after a near-fatal accident leaves her with terrifying nightly visits by masked tormentors.

Extinguishing Fireflies by Rebecca Rowland

Lea wanted nothing more than to have a child. When her daughter Arielle was born, Lea believed, as every new parent does, that her child would be special. At nine-years-old, Arielle is athletic and precocious and curious, and sure enough, has a very special—and terrifying—gift.

The Eyes of the Dead by Danielle R. Bailey

The Eyes of The Dead is a shocking perspective of what lies ahead for us all. Fighting for survival, a young woman discovers the realm of true horror.

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding by Sam Lauren

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding is a literary charcuterie of menstruation mythology. Everyone has heard of at least one, but is there any truth to them?

Blood by Red Claire

In a racist and repressive theocracy, a princess ponders the nature of power and symbols.

Friends with Benefits by E.F. Schraeder

Linked to a powerful mother, one girl doesn’t know if memory or magic holds her family together; can she trust anyone but herself to find out?

The Doll’s House by Alyson Faye

After Sophie’s mother is imprisoned for murder, Sophie inherits the doll’s house; whose inhabitants she believes are alive. As family secrets are revealed, is it Sophie or a supernatural force committing the crimes? Is anyone safe in Sophie’s family?

Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli

Leda has a problem and stares at a white wall to cope. That is until a fly decides that her precious space is its new home.

Self-Portrait with Pears by Rachel Bolton

A young man’s crush on a classmate slips into obsession when things don’t go as he expects.

A Song Only She Can Hear by Wondra Vanian

High school is hard enough when you don’t have to hide scales from your classmates. Unfortunately for Jewel, she’s about to learn that there are worse things than high school – and she might be one of them.

Angel of Death by Phoebe Jane Johnson

The mass murderess known as La Angel Muerta has been sentenced to death, the first woman to be executed under the newly restored death penalty. Although many scream for justice, a political power play proves justice is not blind. Simultaneously, a nation realms away follow the case as two worlds are destined to collide.

Cracked by Regan Moore

Gabby is about to find out that sometimes someone else’s treasure could become someone else’s curse.

Patterns of Faerytales by Azzurra Nox

The night before his wedding day, Cillian learns a dark secret about his wife that not even she is aware of. Her ignorance could be their bliss, but if she finds out what it is, then life as they know it might very well no longer exist.

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