National Poetry Month: Oops

Okay, I dropped the ball. Consider it a break between the paragraphs or one of those multi-spaced gaps between phrases in some poems. I was actually super sick on an international flight home. Eleven hours, nonstop, with precious few masks that I sneezed into regularly, stealing tissues from the airplane toilet and stuffing them into my pockets before I returned to my seat. The crew took little pity on me. At one point, I did get cognac to put into my tea. So, that’s something.

I couldn’t read, my eyes were so watery and swollen. Instead, I watched one movie after another:

3000 Years of Longing (beautiful, although not well paced)

Bullet Train (2nd viewing, one of my all-time favorites)

47 Ronin (2nd viewing, a treat even on the small screen)

Last Night in Soho (eh)

Lady Bird (eh, although the comment that Sacramento was the Midwest of California resonated)

More poetry tomorrow, I promise!

National Poetry Month: Pain is the Opposite of Thought

A while back, I participated in the Infernal Salon. Using prompts from CSE Cooney’s tarot deck, we wrote poetry live on Twitch for 20 minutes. The card I chose as a prompt read “Pain is the opposite of thought.” Here was the result.

Web of Splinters

The icy morning brightens
Between the blinds
Frost crackling on the bedroom window
A watery web of splinters
I crave a handful of snow to
Douse the heartache 
That smolders in my chest
As I remember how
Your words cut me open
Slice by slice
You then dabbed your fingers
In my blood
And painted the words on my skin
This is the last
You wrote that night
Our last time together
My tears could never wash away
Those stains
Yet you were right
And I returned the favor
Slice by slice
The Damascus steel stormy
Like our blended flesh.
Sometimes, I sleep with this souvenir
This morning
My hand aches more than my soul
So I let the blade roll from my grip

Later, I’ll visit your secret grave

(Screenshot of me writing on Twitch. Yes, that’s a kitty wearing a stuffed watermelon slice as a cone of shame.)

National Poetry Month: No Rhyme Goes Unpunished

A few years ago, I self-published a satire thriller called No Rhyme Goes Unpunished under the pen name Quentin Banks. It’s about how someone is killing the worst poets in L.A. and homicide detective Henry Cake is trying to stop them — even though nobody wants him to.

Here’s a quick outtake. Cake goes undercover as an emo poet to catch the killer at a poetry venue. Here he is delivering his first poem. Beside him is a goth girl he’s falling for.


It was dark that night

We found the dead woman

Lying on the street

With her eyes open

Staring…at…the stars

She had lines on her arms

And bruises on her legs

I wondered if she’d had

Any family

A home

What her name was

But we never knew

What the heck happened

Just that someone

Probably didn’t pay

The piper on time


The pipe person

You know

The guy who sells

Illegal stuff no one should

Be smoking

He gave them all a stern look, realized he’d just totally fallen out of character, and then slipped back into his fugue.


Except cool people of course

Don’t get me wrong

And this woman paid all right

Paid with her life

One less star in the sky

One less light at night

Fallen from above

Lying on the ground

Like litter.

He paused, wincing at the truth of what he was saying, then added:

I’ve seen too much trash.

He put the microphone back on the stand and strode off the stage as the coffee crowd went bananas. Loud “Yeeeeaahs!” soared through the cloud of noise. All Cake saw was the look on Fuchsia’s face as he approached the couch: sheer surprise widened her eyes, her mouth slightly agape. It was the look that perps sometimes had when they realized they’d been caught fair and square while they were being handcuffed. 

“How’d I do?” he asked quietly.

“Did you just make that up?”


“Wow!” She planted a kiss on his cheek.

He grinned. The pink-haired girl was still looking at him. Crap! Did she recognize him? This was not good. He averted his eyes and flattened his smile until her coffee house fervor was re-ignited and she turned her attention fully to the roster at hand. They heard one poet after another — mostly bad although occasionally someone crept up to the microphone and read something that made Cake’s skin tingle. His hand moved closer to Fuchsia’s until he clasped it. Her delicate fingers clapsed back. He felt foolish worrying about whether or not a woman who’d tied him up and had sex with him twice liked him but he’d never met anyone like her before. Most women he’d dated were a bit passive, wanting an alpha male, which Cake wasn’t. Fuchsia’s general forthrightness turned him on.

National Poetry Month: The Stocking of Hate

I don’t know if the Vogon Poetry Generator is still around, but it once produced this bit of hilarity. Share and enjoy!

The Stocking of Hate

I’ll entice you till the fuse
Is grappled and perpetuated so as to hope
And the cold rocks go liking
Like the walnuts and the conspiracy.

The toes shall fly like sonnets,
For in my prongs I surrender to
The “STOCKING of hate”,
And the beautiful idiom of the solid.

Could but I do, within me
my lust and body;
To such a mammalian delight ’twould jostle me.

And because I am hard, and die and MIX snow,
You express, you see me so there can be no coffee,
And it is too hot to LOVE a singer: my rust and opportunity —
That does groan and leads the reason of thy sock.

And all who dreamed bedding should embarrass them there,
And all should fail, ahoy! Ugh!
His delightful liquids, his intoxicating a river!

Generated using the iPhone Vogon Poetry Constructor –

National Poetry Month: The Beast

He has carved a relief
in the fragrant balsa of my heart
with nothing more
than his physical beauty
and sexual intensity.
Despite his scales, claws, and brimstone,
the behemoth who hardly knows
I’ve been pierced by his flagging tail
captures my imagination
and seizes my sensitivity.
Unlovable and unthinkable,
he slips like eels
under the boat hull
and jams my rudder.
I should give him his sweet bread
to lick from his palms
and with my Hindi basket
turn to the pleading hands
of other wedding guests.
Ignore the insatiable flame
that consumes the blood
between my thighs.
Die every night
to the memory of his bare skin
gorging that flame like kerosene.
Dionysus closes his palm
over my Venus mound
as eyes like pale sapphires
flare into mine
from behind sandy strands.
Swear on my milky body.
Count me dead.
I need his skin like mine own.
If I stole it,
the Beast of Revelation
would turn a sickly amber eye
towards me and crush my skull
with a splintered hoof
stained with saintly blood.

And I not even remembered
in the jeweled windows of his temple…

I will wander
the dark tunnels of forgetfulness
until my feet are numb from
the icy puddles
scattered as mirror shards
under the moonlight.

National Poetry Month: Divinity Dust

Many people have asked me about the inspiration for this poem. All I can say is that you’ll find out next year upon publication of my memoir, The Good Girl, from Running Wild Press.

Divinity Dust

Here I am
on Imbolc
craving 10 grams
of God
and a fingernail full
of synchronicity.
Where are all
the dirty moments
of knowing real divinity?
God wrapped in foil 
and handed off
like a cracker?
It’s the diminishing dosages
that really get me.
I make my connection
each night
in dreamscape
only to find
God’s a jackal,
a roly-poly pervert
who leads you down
dark alleyways
so he can get you high
behind the dumpster
and fuck you in the ass…
I know, it’s crass
but I’m addicted
to miracles
and I need a fix fast.
So tie me up
and heat another teaspoon
of that divinity dust,
my angel,
pat my vein, and
with a prayerful prick
help me forget.

National Poetry Month: 39 Regrets

In honor of the Lefty Award Awards (congrats to the winners!), here is my Hitchcock-inspired poem, “39 Regrets,” which was published in A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock by Dark Scribe Press.

39 Regrets

There is so much in life that I’ve come to regret
Yet old Mr. Mem’ry won’t let me forget.

That five cents I stole from my mother’s black purse;
And the lie that I told that made it all worse.
The bleach that I poured in my grandma’s fish tank;
And the woman I tripped up that day at the bank.
The night that I swapped my father’s heart pills
For the ones in the cupboard that cured paltry ills.
Not to mention the holes cut in everyone’s socks;
The times that I changed all the family clocks.
The anonymous note that I sent to Miss Gluvder
To make the plain thing think that somebody loved her.

I remember the Monday I cut the school’s power,
And poisoned our neighbor’s red prize-winning flower.
I’d stolen my uncle’s big shiny revolver, 
And used mother’s perfume as car paint dissolver.
Soon after I’d pushed that dim boy down the stairs
Whose sticky warm blood wet all his head’s hairs…

And then as I grew my regrets multiplied
When I met a nice man and became his shy bride.
We moved to a two-story house down the street
And gave birth to wee waves of regrets oh so sweet:
Becky, Scottie, Lina,
Norman, John, Eve
And Pete. 

I regretted it more when I ran from it all
And rented a room in a dusty old hall,
Taking up drink and dyeing my hair
Leading the men to my taffeta lair.
The dresses, 
And late night champagne,
Were lovely at first, then drove me insane.
I needed more intrigue, a man who knew life
A fellow who knew what to do with a knife. 

I regretted the day that I met him at last
And regretted his murder to cover my past.
I then had to flee to another great city
And with a fake name, I joined a committee. 
I regret that I tried to adopt a routine
When really I shouldn’t have ever been seen.
Of course, I regret being caught by the law
I never denied that my plan had a flaw…

But my greatest regret — which some call my glory —
Was letting that fat man hear my life’s story.

(c) 2011 by Maria Alexander

National Poetry Month

It’s that time of year when the U.S. recognizes poetry and poets. I’ll try to post a poem every day this month. Most of them are reprints of poems from my Bram Stoker Award(r)-nominated poetry collection At Louche Ends, Poetry for the Decadent, the Damned, and the Absinthe-minded (the featured image in this post is from the cover by Katelan Foisy). Others are from my first collection, Biting Midnight: A Feast of Darksome Verse. But a few will be new. Since T.S. Eliot named April the cruelest month in his famous poem “The Wasteland,” that’s where we’ll start. With cruelty.

Without further ado, one of my first poems.

Pain is God’s Love

Pain is God’s love
he said
legs folded lotus
on the bed
of imported pillows
as he spoke to us
his spiritual students
Pain is God’s love  
I said
as the needle slipped into my wrist
into the nerve
and I called out
his name
the license plate
of his Mercedes
and the colors
of his silk paintings
in the third-floor hallway
he responded
by telling me
I was too self-absorbed…

God-absorbed and
nag champa blind
my mind went white
the nurse stroked my brow
as I shuddered
you’re doing very well
the doctor said
I smiled
I have a high pain threshold
I replied
tears in my eyes 
and I remembered 
I have eighty dollars
until the next disability check arrives.
And when the doctor left
the nurse and I talked
about Karma and fate
how nothing’s safe
and she said
spiritual security
is your only good bet
what a hard lesson that is
I whispered 
and she cried…

Here in my bliss
in my handless
I say
Pain is God’s love
and I wish he knew
how much
God hated him.

(c) 2002 Maria Alexander in Biting Midnight: A Feast of Darksome Verse

The Gashlycrumb Endless

Credit: DC Entertainment

My husband, Bret Shefter, wrote this. He’s brilliant, which is only one of many reasons I married him. He’s also a Sandman fan, which didn’t hurt, either.

Without further ado…

The Gashlycrumb Endless

A is for Abel, a victimized prat

B is for Burgess, who murdered a cat

C’s for the Cuckoo that keeps you in thrall

D is for Dream, Death, Destruction, et al.

E is for Eye, the Corinthian’s snack

F is for Fair Folk, who never came back

G is for Gilbert, a chivalrous gent

H is for Hell, under new management

I is for Ishtar, who danced off her fanny

J’s for Johanna, John Constantine’s granny

K is for Ken, who is dumb as a post

L is for Lyta, who slept with a ghost

M is for Matthew, who strutted and cawed

N is for Nada, who turned down a god

O is for Orpheus, head without heart

P is for Puck, who declined to depart

Q is for Queen, both Titania and Maeve

R is for Rose, who would not quite behave

S is for Sykes, who absconded with prizes

T’s for The Three, in their various guises

U is for Unity, finally awake

V is for Vortex, and walls it could break

W’s Wanda—not Alvin! no doubt!

X is the letter that Gaiman left out

Y is for You, gentle reader, who learns

Zed is for Zzzzs, ‘til the Sandman returns

(c) 2023 Bret Shefter, all rights reserved

2022: The Wildly Swinging Pendulum

The year 2022 can’t be measured with lists and Viking rituals. It simply started in the worst possible way.

The Ow

I won’t go into the details, but I was in tremendous pain. I imagined the worst, and for good reason. All signs pointed down a road I’d traveled before that was scraggly and awful. As I struggled with the pain, tsunamis of anxiety and grief crashed down around me. For some reason The Unthanks’s haunting version of “Magpie” went through my head on repeat.

Devil, devil, I defy thee.

My world was falling apart in a way I knew all too well.

But then, a miracle happened. After my regular doctors failed to treat the issue, I went to a specialist. He ran some tests, and we found something. I won’t bore you with my diagnosis. However, I made a minor lifestyle change and…the pain vanished. Like that. Totally gone. All that anguish just dried up. It made sense. It really did. I just couldn’t believe how little it took. And it hasn’t been back since. So…whew?

The Good Girl

Meanwhile, I’d been looking for an agent for my memoir, The Good Girl. It became clear that it wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t a celebrity, and my topic wasn’t, well, topical in the way some are. Not the stuff of Educated or Maid that speaks to larger social issues. While my story is highly relatable, it can also be quite provocative to the average reader.

So, I decided to submit the memoir to an independent publisher that my friend Tori Eldridge had published with: Running Wild Press. I forgot about it while I hired a developmental editor for my La Maupin book, The Blade that Lies. Former senior editor at Tor, Melissa Frain rocked the book in the best way. Not being in pain meant I could focus on that work. I also immediately tried to engage agents with the revised draft, but with no success.

And that’s when it happened. Lisa Kastner at RWP contacted me. A month later, we signed a book contract for the memoir. It’s coming out in 2024, edited by Aimee Hardy.

The Good Girl is the most important story I have to tell. It’s my 緣份 yuánfèn, my destiny. I feel like my whole life has rolled up to this point.

The New New Beginnings

A grey cat curled up into a U-shape with her feet pointed straight out, eyes closed, paws tucked in. She lies on a brown and black blanket.

I know what you’re thinking. “Another genre, Maria?” Yes, ANOTHER GENRE. Hey, I tell the stories I need to tell, okay? And this genre isn’t especially new. You bums have been getting my personal essays for free. The only difference now is that, instead of posting them to Medium or personal blog, I’m now sending them out to magazine editors. It takes a while to get traction, to find the right editors and publications. It’ll happen.

I can’t wait for you guys to read them, though. There’s a reason I’ve always just put them up on my blog. Life is too short not to laugh.

We also seem to have acquired another cat. Things haven’t gone well integrating her with the other two. We’ve named her Theodosia Wigglebutt. She definitely reminds me of another little gray kitty I once owned named Ophelia that appears in my memoir…

The Eclipse

Fuck this.

I knew the Scorpio eclipse on October 25th was going to swing a wrecking ball into my world. I was right. On October 27, along with 5% of our staff, I was laid off. (Our UX team was hit especially hard.) My teams and I have struggled to understand why I was one of those let go when I’ve been so central to much of the work we’ve done. There’s no answer except one with dollar signs.

The market is bleak. The astrological winds have been harsh and will continue to be so through January, but by February 2023 life should be looking up. (I actually have reason to hope March 1 will bring positive changes.) I have some ideas about how to make money while I’m out of work. And people are already asking if I’m open to freelancing. But I won’t soon forget this job I love and the people I work with.

Oh, and I got COVID after not having as much as a cold in 6.5 years. BAH.

The Next Step

Speaking of work, I’ll soon be hard at it on Aimee’s edits for The Good Girl. I won’t be able to afford the publicist I’d wanted to hire, but I can educate myself enough to get started on my own book PR. It could be fun! It could be hard. I could turn homicidal. I’ll try not to, though. I’ve succeeded lo these many years to stay out of prison. It’s hard to do signings behind bars. I’ll do my best.

I’m also working on a new YA horror mystery, and depending on what happens, I might have special plans for The Blade that Lies. Whatever happens, I’m taking a sword with me into 2023. If I go down, it’ll be swinging and stabbing.