Tag Archives: jillydreadful

When Promethea Spoke: Rebirth

prometheaIf I had a name, it’d be Promethea, and my god-like crime would be in being kind: in strengthening Man in his own mind. And I would become a symbol and a sign, if not the last in a genetic line, of reminding mortals of their fate and force, that they, too, are divine, and not murky streams diverted from one pure source.

And when Zeus should discover my mortal love, he’ll send me vultures, rocks, and chains, attempts to turn my immortality to pain. The constant reminder: his wretched gifts of my love of human wretchedness. Though my entrails will never sate the vultures he will create, his punishments already far too late. For when you fall in love with gods and writers, the fire I stole from Olympus burns that much brighter—the flame of immortality for all to see, through the quires of history.

I burn, I drink, I gather dreams, while everyone tells Promethea to go back to sleep. ‘The pain will be less sharp, if you just lose yourself to the dark.’ But I’m already in a labyrinth, my body humming unheard songs, my desires inventing new desires, until losing is all that’s left before long.

So I will believe in stories, I will believe in fire. I will believe in beings endowed with power to assemble things that have once been broken until there are no more stories to be spoken.

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Star Wolf

Star Wolf & Cosmic Crow by Jilly DreadfulI am a wolf made of swirling galaxies and I am in search of a pack. The constant search for wolves made of similar stuff has been wearisome on my wolf bones. The pads of my wolf feet are dry and cracked from miles of searching in the snow—snow that goes on for infinity in all three dimensions of cubic volume. So it comes as no surprise that the trails I once found have long since grown cold. It comes as no surprise that I have lost the scent of creatures made of the same star stuff as me.

But then there is a crow. He is white as the snow I trudge through, and I can tell he relishes the surprise he causes me by undermining my expectations of what a crow should look like. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a crow to be made of the same density of blackness as myself. The crow enjoys the way he stands out in the murder of other crows—at once, accepted as part of the collective, but, also singular in his peculiar color.

My heart is made of dark matter, and it’s comes with its own gravitational pull, and although the crow is curious about my orbit, he is wary as well. And he should be. I am made of the crushing force of a thousand collapsed suns. What creature could possibly withstand the catastrophic force of a star running out of fuel and condensing into a black hole shaped like a wolf?

It is better to not be curious about such creatures. It is best to make my bed in the snow and sleep and sink into an event horizon of my own making.

But the crow’s curiosity follows me, outweighing his natural impulse of wariness. He makes wide circles at first, creating his own apogean path, giving me time to decide whether I trust the crow to come any closer, giving him time to decide whether he trusts my jaws to be still.

I stay still. I don’t snap my teeth, I don’t even howl, even though the moon is bright and full, and I can feel her yanking on the tides of the planets that swirl inside me. The moon makes me want to run; not in fear, but to run for the joyful crunch of paws on snow, and my particular ability to melt into the night.

When the crow swoops toward me, he conjuncts my heart and flies right through. He isn’t bound by my gravity. He isn’t bound by the orbital path I would’ve expected my dark matter heart to force upon other creatures who dared to venture too close. The diving conjunction gives the crow his own momentum, and he flies the highest I have ever seen a crow fly. So high that the moon is able to lean down and give the crow a kiss, and moonbeams bounce off his back.

Seeing him fly in such a way gives me hope that I, too, can survive as a star wolf, with swirling galaxies, but without a pack to call my own.

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I Grew Up in Gold Mining Country

After fourteen and a half years together, my husband only just realized the other day that the general store where I grew up literally sold gold pans, pick axes, tools, animal feed, various sundries, and livestock (mostly chicks and ducklings and goslings) underneath. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, the nearest city, Placerville, was 45 minutes away. These are pictures I took on a drive to my house chronicling the extreme vast nothingness of Mt. Aukum Road in El Dorado County, Northern California. Trees have lives of their own and are magical here, and the extreme poverty allows structures (mostly barns) to become severely decayed like a watercolor painting. These pictures are from 2008 when I went back for one afternoon after moving away 8 years earlier. Nothing had changed. In fact, businesses had closed down since I had left, so the area, in fact, devolved. This is my California.


by | February 13, 2015 · 10:52 pm

Week 06: Ancient, Tree

I grew up in gold mining country. Where men went to the grocery store with shotguns strapped to their backs because in El Dorado County that’s what men did. No one had yards, but there were parcels of land. It was called “property.” Mustn’t wander off the property. Mustn’t trespass onto the neighbor’s property. One day, when I was eleven years old, I told my mother I was going in search of leprechauns. I had found a tree that definitely curved and gnarled into a portal to a fairy realm. But I had read fairy tales. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going that day, so I was afraid to climb inside the tree in case I couldn’t make it back again. I waited until March, because I thought of March as a fairy month.

When I went to search for the tree, I ducked under a barbed wire fence, red and loose with age. I followed the creek bed that had just enough water to gargle with. I saw the tree, set back from the others—enough to blend in, but far back enough to be remembered. As I started up the hill, a man with a mustache rode up fast on his horse—so fast that I hadn’t heard hooves on soft mud. He pointed a shotgun as long as I was tall at me and said to get off his property.

I trespassed onto that land again in June to find the tree. When I crossed the creek, it ate one of my shoes. Swallowed it whole. They were my favorite pair: acid washed with neon splattered drips of paint. I thought maybe it was a fairy test. That if I kept going, I’d be sure to find the portal. But when I rounded the hill, looking for that wide and gnarled tree with a child-sized hole in its belly, it was gone; no stump, not even a hole where its roots had once lived.

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Week 05, Wild: The Dearest Creature Chronicles

Dearest Creature

Dearest Creature, No. 4

Dearest Creature,

Memories of you ghost in the wintry air.

Might I be your haunted phonograph?

The grooves of your story are etched into mine;

Would that I could switch the needle elsewhere.


The Cartographer

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Week 04: Girls, Theft

My mother said she wanted to make my last birthday in childhood special, so she drove three small children over a hundred miles to go to Marine World Africa USA. My seventh grade class had just taken a field trip there three months earlier. The concrete habitats so close to concrete freeways made the Pacific Ocean a distant memory. The smallness of the enclosures and the bigness of the mammals inside them made me want to steal something. Because we were straight-A students, we were able to convince ourselves that stealing would be a form of protest. So at a gift kiosk, I took a magnet shaped like an otter. As we walked around the park, it became apparent that her father had never tried to persuade her to keep a lost change purse that contained ten dollars in quarters. It had been my single greatest discovery in third grade. But I knew who the leather coin purse, in the shape of a moccasin, belonged to. The girl with blonde hair had always been mean to me. I remember when she brought the coin purse to class the first time, weeks earlier. She was showing it off to a crowd of our classmates, letting them all touch her new treasure. She had blond hair, was named after a mountain range spelled wrong, and claimed to be a quarter Navajo. I knew all about lies back then. I told kids at school I was born in Japan. I asked if I could hold it, and she grabbed it away from me, as though I was like Frank who didn’t bathe. She also shared her markers with everyone around her, except me, even though I sat immediately behind her. The day she forgot the coin purse, I knew she had ten dollars in quarters inside because she had been gloating about wanting to buy an ice cream at lunch, and I was glad she forgot. It didn’t have her name on it. I could claim it rightfully. It was more money than I had ever been given or earned. When I brought it home, my father made me dump it out and count the quarters. He said I could keep it. He said I’d be stupid to give it back, especially to someone like her. To this day, I am not sure if he was serious or if he was testing me, but the next morning, I gave it back to the girl whose parents had misspelled her name.

After having been able to walk away with the otter magnet in my pocket with no one noticing, I did not feel as vindicated as I thought I would. I had a fantasy of being apprehended and giving a speech about animal rights and how antithetical to the park’s mission of conservation it was to acquire and train wild animals. Being a straight-A student meant certain other straight-laced morals as well, and in the time it took us to take the magnet and walk a circle between the shark experience and beluga whales, my friend became sullen and withdrawn. I felt worse for her than even for myself, for I felt no guilt whatsoever, aside from bringing her in on my plan. I said that stealing a magnet was too small an act of protest, that it hadn’t effected the operations of the park at all, so I might as well put it back. And I did. I even told the cashier I had “accidentally” left with it earlier, and I was thanked instead of questioned.

Returning the magnet didn’t change my friend’s mood, though. She stopped being my friend after that anyway, and I didn’t really want to go back to Marine World Africa USA.

But my mom knew I loved animals. At this time, I wanted to be a veterinarian.

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Week 03, Sage: When you have the moon on your leg, the stars are your cartography

ImageFor B, because he’s the sage in my life

You gave me a son with the moon on his leg,

that way he’ll never be lost

and the stars will be his cartography.

You gave me a son with the moon on his leg,

because we were already on a galactic voyage

and you wanted me to remember home.

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Week 02, Consciousness: The Black Rock


Brian Froud’s The Pook

“You can almost always find chains of coincidence to disprove magic. That’s because it doesn’t happen the way it does in books. It makes those chains of coincidence. That’s what it is. It’s like if you snapped your fingers and produced a rose but it was because someone on an aeroplane had dropped a rose at just the right time for it to land in your hand. There was a real person and a real aeroplane and a real rose, but that doesn’t mean the reason you have the rose in your hand isn’t because you did the magic…. …It’s harder to get a grip on than if it did work the way it does in stories. And it’s much easier to dismiss, you can dismiss all of it if you have a skeptical turn of mind because there always is a sensible explanation. It always works through things in the real world, and it’s always deniable. — Jo Walton, Among Others

So last Tuesday, I totally saw a faery sitting on my nightstand. And I’m not even joking. You might be thinking I’m joking because you don’t know me very well. In fact, there are only three people in the world who I could say this to and they would not only know I am not joking, but they would also know I am not making this shit up. And none of them include my blood relatives. Although I bet my almost 2 year old son would believe me, because I’m pretty sure he sees them, too.

And the cats. Well that part’s a lie. I have two cats, but only one of them ever seems to see the same things that I see and responds to them. Which brings out a whole new questions about psychic functioning in the animal kingdom.

But I digress.

It was around midnight. I went upstairs. And when I turned on the light, there he was (not all faeries are gendered, but I got a distinct vibe from this one). I thought about drawing him because he looked similar to Brian Froud’s pook, but he was in a sitting pose, with his arms folded around his knees, and his head was slung over his knee-tops in what I can only describe as faery way (because it seems impossible to accomplish, even if you were in Cirque de Soleil). He was large for a faery. Sitting the way he was, he as long as my cat sitting up properly in a normal cat-like way. But skinny. Spindly, really. He stayed the longest of almost any faery I have seen. Which means close to 30 seconds. Maybe even a full minute. As I changed into my pajamas and climbed into bed, he did straighten up somewhat and watched me more intently than I was watching him. At this point, he was an arm’s reach away. I could have reached out and touched him. I turned my head to reach for the blankets and when I turned back, he was gone.

And there was a black rock, which he had been sitting on, left on my nightstand.

I told my husband about what happened. We’ve lived in this house for two and a half years and I haven’t seen a faery yet. When I showed him the rock, I asked him if he recognized it and he said he didn’t. I said it seemed familiar for some reason, but I couldn’t quite remember. Like, the memory of this particular black rock was on the top of my brain, but was just out of reach. Brad said he felt similarly. Like he should know this rock, but didn’t.

My husband is a chemist, by the way, and he’s married to someone who sees faeries. And he believes me because he knows I’m not joking about this. And every once in a while, I’ll have these pieces of tangible evidence that are otherwise inexplicable: a black rock appears as if from nowhere on my nightstand; the dagger that I had carefully, and fully intentionally packed in my checked luggage, mysteriously appears in my carry-on at the airport instead. Yeah, that situation was not fun to explain. It’s one of the two times I felt as though I might faint, the other time was when my mom told me she had cancer and three months to live.  “I’m a pagan. That’s an athame. It’s part of my religion. I thought I packed it in my checked luggage.” I don’t say that I know packed it there.

It ended up costing me $125. But at least I’m not on a Do Not Fly or a watch list. (At least that I know of.)

There are always ways to “explain” situations like the black rock. You could say my toddler found it and put it there. I would say no, because there was a foot of snow outside, we hadn’t gone outside in days because it was too cold (not to mention, he couldn’t even play in the backyard, and if he could, we don’t have rocks like this here), and there are no other rocks that he can get to, ya know, inside the house.

You could say I’m lying. And that’s your choice. I’m not expecting anyone to believe me. But this is my reality.

You could say it’s a particular cocktail of chemicals or hormones in my brain that create hallucinations, and I couldn’t disprove that. In fact, maybe my brain isn’t like everyone else.

But I know these aren’t hallucinations, or dissociative identity disorder (which I was really afraid of for a while, but a psychiatrist assured me that this was not the case); maybe it’s precisely the weird wiring or cocktail of hormones in my brain that allow me to see these things.

How do I know?

Because after five months of hospital stays and treatment, my mom was suddenly “misdiagnosed.”

She had never had cancer.

Even though a year earlier, she had pre-cancer stage cervival cells. Even though when she was in her 20s, she had melanoma.

I asked my concept of God and the faeries to heal her. I then had hundreds of people pray for her.

I also know because I met my husband. My grandmother, who had been a witch in her youth, after the prison stint of course, predicted that I would meet my husband by writing letters without knowing each other. She told me this years before either of us knew about the Internet. And I asked the faeries to help me recognize my soul mate and to prepare my heart to be open to him (or her) then one of my best friends, with whom I chatted online, told me he loved me a month later.

And I know this because of my son. Because I saw him and been expecting him for almost ten years before he arrived.

There are perfectly acceptable, logical ways to explain all of this.

But it doesn’t mean the reason I have the black rock in my hand isn’t because I did the magic, or saw the faeries.

In fact, I am looking for my camera to take a picture of the black rock and can’t find my camera. Maybe I shouldn’t be posting this.

But I’m going to anyway.


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Week 01, Foundation


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by | January 7, 2013 · 3:54 am