Enchanted Words

Enchanted Words

A man’s words are manifestly more seductive than the awkward actions taken in the game of seduction. Flowers and chocolates are not as persuasive, and gifts are only a measure of what can be afforded rather than what can be surrendered. I’d rather have your heart than your money and your tongue than your gifts.

Perhaps it’s because I am a wordsmith and as such I know the power of words and the weight they hold on the soul like an anchor that holds down a vessel even as the ocean continues to swirl around us. Like metal that is melted in fire to mold, words set aflame something inside me that is capable of forging me into anything it wants with your stolen kisses and timid touches, and the words you immortalize in your writing.

But words can also take from me what I don’t want to give, bending me to its spellbinding will even as I fight to keep control of my own words, to make them vague enough for you to keep guessing but powerful enough to enchant you like the minx sorceress I’ve become. But your words are slippery and unpredictable where mine are made of stone, casting me into the dangerous waters of your puerility and watching me sink to the bottom where your words anchor me down to your soul and my words sink their fangs into your soft neck.

** Photo by Reiz (http://reizdrawing.deviantart.com/art/Enchantress-626821931)


Epistolary Reflection

To a Younger Me,

Don’t be fooled by obsequious cliches that wrap sultry fingers around your values and choke the life out of them while delivering hollow kisses like blows bundled in shiny wrapping paper that only conceal the decay within.  Don’t give ear to siren calls whose voices offer a knowledge not their own while luring you to the unholy penitence of contrition, surrounding you in the treacherous cliffs of cloaked deceit and the falling rocks of duplicity that rise from an ocean of mesmeric beguiling and subtle trickery.

Don’t fall prey to the beauty of the senses that entice the sensuality of your being, stealing your sweet innocence in the murky fringes of your inner esthetics and heightening an experience not meant to be yours.  You do have a sixth sense found in the brushstrokes of everything you write that, sadly, you will not discover until it’s too late and the pills have already sedated your awareness.

Don’t love frivolously or blindly for not everyone deserves to explore the depths of your beating heart nor exploit the vastness of its expanse; love with eyes wide open and palm-side up, not to receive what others have to proffer since their offerings are not always balms for the soul, but to give freely without losing sight of those whom you love the most and of who you are to just you.

Let the sun shine bright in your eyes where it can penetrate the closed lids of your own fears, but savor those moments of shade when darkness pays you a visit in a chariot of clouds and your words spill hopelessly upon my page.  Though your future holds very few oases in the deserts of your life, drink deep of the purity of the hidden waters that moisten your swollen tongue, gives voice to your scorched soul, and braces you for the woman I am today.  epistle


I was young then when my mother was a social smoker and my father a jovial alcoholic. They called me Karina because it was short for Karen, though it really wasn’t. The first time I saw past their plastic smiles, I was bleeding all over newspapers in the backseat of my father’s car, having fallen – or been thrown off – the bed at two-years-old, too young to understand their fighting, but not too young for the sudden awareness of the counterfeit faces they now wore; and I quickly realized that the deep gash on my leg had not been the only part of me bleeding.

Tell it to my future self when the heart bleeds deeper than a wound, and the wound cannot heal itself for when the heart breaks it leaves fragments of shrapnel embedded in the soul like the bullet my father still has in his leg from a trip to El Salvador and can no longer remove because he waited too long to see a doctor (did I wait too long to love you?). I learned early on that the ocean does not want to swallow me up; that life on shore had already successfully done that; that crab-hunting had become a customary bullying that I had enjoyed for longer than I had stayed, where pain was most forgotten when I inflicted it instead of garnered it in my bones.

Love was a golden word that looked more like bronze corroded by time rather than a shiny band around my finger. It was no more a halo that sealed my faith than it had become a dagger under the breast, where my heart pumped too close to its blade, and so silenced itself to stealth mode, evading the enemy within. Not that my family did not love, but simply that they had been bruised one too many times under the skin where no one could see the contusions that branded them with family members’ names so that their own reactions to love was abrasive and swollen much like being welted with my father’s belt, the one with his name branded onto the leather strap and beaten into my skin.

Having lost my voice within a sleeping bag that had time-capsuled abuse, I found it lingering in the halls of my high school that first friendless year. It was casually perusing through the pages of my experience where I first fell in love with words and they bookmarked me, where they became a reflection of my emotions, echoing in the journals that still hide between my mattress and the box spring, seeping into my dreams like ink onto parchment to remind me that my heart still beats in my chest though no one hears it, that despite the invisibility that followed me in the shadows of disillusionment and struggle, I was still alive, blood pumping through my veins with such vigor that cutting them only made them breathe life into another’s soul.

That was when my wanton affairs began, novels shamelessly dancing naked in my head even as I read them to no one; poems struggling to escape the shackles of poverty and the Welfare system that wrapped its stubby fingers around my throat but could not strangle the words within, an underground railroad having been carefully built to escape the master in a labyrinth of other people’s words, other people’s dreams; love letters left unmailed to a lover unknown but who would come to me decades later in another chapter with no name. I had cheated life by fighting back and he despised being cuckolded by one so young so he bound me in the chains of conformity and pietism, numbing the poet I had become, but not killing her for God had made him promise to not lay a finger on my soul. But somewhere in the expanse that had become my small world, something died and left a fetal corpse in my womb, calcifying it there forever until the weight of it brought me into a darkness from which I never really recovered.

And so the pills filled the cracks in the sidewalk, grouting me until I lay flat under everyone’s feet, pretty but unstable like rotting wood under a platform made of marble. Years of psychotherapy and experimenting with new drugs fused into my being like too many mixed drinks at Donnalee’s party when I had to be carried down the stairs and taken home in a dream I can’t remember, though I do recall being sober for a year after that. I had lost a battle with Fate, and she stitched a new dress for me made out of my own synthetic synapses and the heartstrings that had once played music for the Muses, a blue one that wrapped around me so tight my breath came in shallow puffs, a Victorian queen in modern-day America. And as the poems within my rib cage threatened to implode, I heard the whispers of requited love hovering near my ears where the buzzing of self-doubt tried to drown it away in a cynical grave of despair, but only managed to make it swell until it filled my head with confidence like monarch butterflies until the poetry burst forth in cascades of beautiful knowledge mingled with experience, once again filling the sponges of my dried soul.

So I wrote, and I wrote until my heart bled on each line, until each word was bloated with emotion and I trembled with desire, until I convinced myself that my words, though unread, held the golden love I’d always yearned, the truth I always sought, the acceptance I thought I needed. I wrote until I was loved with such radiance I could not see it at first, but felt it all around me in wind-swept chasm, penetrating my beliefs with such honesty I knew I was being seen through the blinded eyes of a seer, who told me that my destiny was to know that I am loved but never to own it as mine. And I dared, I tread through the unknown like a Joan of Arc into battle, wielding the double-edged sword that cut with words and lay open the rawness of my heart, my soul, my deeds. For it was that brilliant love that helped me see beauty even in the darkness of a world not my home, and that told of secrets whispered only to me, to tell no one and everyone at once.



When I was younger, I was afraid of crazy, maniacal killers that lurked under my bed rather than the iconic monsters that lived in my closet.  It turns out that I was wrong.  There is so much more to lose in a closet than under a bed because those secrets hidden between the floorboards will catch up to me no matter how long they’ve been buried.  Those pesky little skeletons can only stay still for so long before squirming back into my life and wreaking havoc where stability had once reigned.  And when they’ve escaped their intended confinement, everyone living in the house is suddenly affected and confronted with the fear of pretenses and dismissals, affirmations and judgments.

But how was I supposed to know that these skeletons could lay so dormant, obediently repressed in the darkest corner of the closet where I’d forgotten all about them,  only to rise up with the vengeance of having been scorned and hidden away for far too long?  And who am I to rage against the pain of having lost and gained, only to lose again? No one but a specter with skeletons in her closet.

Bone Church, Czech Republic

“Rest.” The advice I get from everyone from the sensible chiropractor who can hardly touch me to the incumbent therapist who smiles kindly as she says it.

“Don’t forget to breathe.” Sure. And yet these simple acts of relaxation and comfort seem so foreign to me like watching a Kung-Fu movie without subtitles; lots of action, but little inter-action. And it makes me wonder whether there are subtitles of my life and what they might say. Do I even have any, or am I as strange to others as they are to me?

I wonder if my subtitles would even be read, such carefully placed words that make it out of my fast-moving lips amidst wild gesturing, small blocks of white letters flashing across the screen with such speed I cannot even keep up with them. Or can they read the raw, unplanned words that dominate my mind, the real reason I cannot rest? Because they do not stop blotting my brain with black ink letters scattered through my head like moths too close to that bug zapper in the corner of Reality, speaking an exotic insect language I have never mastered, much less been able to translate into small, block letters eager to interpret the craziness inside.

image from Jason Warner

Beautiful Skin

“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?”

I am a wordsmith, the kind of artist that takes a word, values its meaning, its trueness, and its purpose with such delicacy that when combined with other truth-saying words, they become distinct expressions of a reality that cannot be undone or ignored.  My words are like a surgeon’s scalpel that, when used with sensible precision, they can penetrate with the subtlety required to leave only a tiny mark (for scars can fade, but not be erased) and promote the healing powers of a gentle hand.  But sometimes my words can be akin to a sledge hammer, recklessly slamming into relationships with such brutal force that they bludgeon through priceless, porcelain-doll friendships that could never be mended or replaced.  There is no delicacy or healing in these words; only the destruction that follows the outpouring of untethered, raw emotions desperate to explode.  

These crippling words are ever so often the ones that are seared upon people’s hearts like iron brands burnt into their souls, and no matter how sedulous my subsequent words may be, the apologies that spill like contrite balsam upon igneous resentment no longer carry healing  in their expression, but pain and heartbreak.  The once careful wordsmith has erred in the delivery of her message, and, hence, has lost her license to practice.  So now, having hurt those whom she loves the most with the most savage weapon of her words, the ascetic artist stitches an ignoble letter A upon her unwelcoming bosom.

Afterlife in Purgatory


“Man is forced to suffer even after his sins are forgiven, though it was sin that brought down on him this penalty. For the punishment outlasts the guilt, lest the guilt should be thought slight if with its forgiveness the punishment also came to an end.” St. Augustine

I have learned in life that damaged people are more honest than those who have it all together, and there are people who’ve got it all together; I would know because I’m married to one.  There have been very few times when I’ve felt like I had it “all together,” though the last time was actually quite recently, and when I began losing my grip on my brief togetherness, I desperately squeezed the little I could get out of it, and, like John Steinbeck’s Lennie, I killed it, quite unintentionally, then sadly waited for a loving friend to bravely shoot me out of my ingenuous misery.

No George Milton for me…

With death comes a different kind of life, an afterlife of sorts, where broken souls wander the shadowy halls of Purgatory trying to expiate the sins we have committed (or have yet to commit) but still failing to keep them under control. And so we digress into our tormented minds, spectral figures navigating in between realms, bone shards crunching beneath tentative steps, always yearning for purification in the purging fires of holiness that have become so intense we have, sadly, forgotten how to feel.


Photograph by Ryan Wycoff