what has once been seen cannot be unseen

(screen shot via youtube)

I am filled with grief this morning for Melania Trump.

I watched her husband’s tasteless speech at the Al Smith charity dinner last night, in which he repeatedly and grotesquely insulted Hillary Clinton to her face. [Apparently this event has a longstanding tradition of both presidential candidates showing up to “roast” one another.] And I noted the ease with which Trump shifted into humiliating Melania as a tactic to garner audience support.

When the audience laughed—and laugh they did, breaking for a moment the tension of that excruciating speech—they laughed because for a moment his target felt like a safe one. What husband would say such a thing if his wife weren’t in on the joke, right? And maybe they laughed because they slipped into the same blurred distinctions as Donald, using his wife as a lightning rod for their discomfort with him just as he jabbed at her in a pretense of self-deprecating humor.

But a wife is not mere extension of the man she has married. Make no mistake: that was spousal abuse on display last night, as Trump commanded Melania to stand for the people laughing at him making fun of her. When he admitted that he had not warned her in advance of the humiliation he had planned, he used her own loyalty against her and cornered her into either immediately absolving him or making a scene at a hugely public event.

Continue reading “what has once been seen cannot be unseen”


Interior of a grand piano

Interior of a grand piano


My marriage was a master class in musical absolutes.
Syllabus: variations on a single theme.

1. Every true composer must first be a pianist.

The piano is a percussive instrument
same as a drum, he told me,

manly as any silverback thumping his chest.

2. Only symphony or opera, only what the plebescite deems “classical”
merits the name of music.

Listen to this pop tune:
(sneering at the repetitive bass thumping of techno or house,
the snare solo interrupting the rock ballad)
Can you imagine any sound more emasculated?

3. Composing is not an art form for pussies.

Not when unzipped and whipped it out
is highest praise for the writing of a concerto.
Or believing your own vision mangled in performance

by flesh-and-blood musicians?
An erection attacked by a thousand paper cuts.

4. I understood:

To make macho sport of penning duets for Cello and Tenor
was a blow struck at childhood bullies

at jocks who called out “fag boy”

at the mother’s drunken boyfriend who’d once pressed his gun
into a small child’s hands—cold steel to toughen up

what hours at a keyboard threatened
to make soft.

5. I understood at last too:

(ordered to my knees, bare backside)
(strop pulled like a whisper from its satin case)

In such man’s logic, any woman’s body could itself become


13 Partly-Feminist Ideas for What to Write About When You’ve Decided to Do a Cleanse


I’m supposed to be doing a cleanse this week.

Nothing quacky or dietary-related—I promise I am not going all-juice or detoxifying my elecrolytes or any other form of woo approved only by the Dr. Oz School of Better Health Through Gargling Snake Oil—just a one-week poetry cleanse organized by a writer friend that I leapt to volunteer for. I’ve got too many unwritten words jamming up my brain right now, like rotting leaves clogging a suburban home’s gutters, and an accountability system encouraging me to get at least a few of those words out and on paper each day sounded like just what the doctor^ ordered.

[^Again, not Dr. Oz.]

According to the rules of the cleanse, I agree to write one poem (or bit of a poem, or even one single line of poetry) each day, and send it out to the group by midnight. That’s it.

We’re on day 4 of 7. I’ve managed to write only once.

Sometimes a clog is so acute that low-commitment sluicing is insufficient to break through. Daily venting ain’t enough to get the job done. In these cases, best to take a roto-rooter to the whole situation—and brace yourself for whatever mess results.

And in that spirit, as my offering to the great and terrible gods of Roto-Rootering and Writer’s Clog, allow me to present:

Alice’s Listicle of Things She’d Be Writing About Right Now If Only Her Head Were Feeling A Bit More Cooperative and, Yknow, Language-y 

Continue reading “13 Partly-Feminist Ideas for What to Write About When You’ve Decided to Do a Cleanse”

Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)

[CN: rape, rape’s aftermath, emotional abuse.]

This piece can now be found at The Manifest-Station.



# # #

Shame thrives in isolation and silence. Thank you for witnessing these stories, and for lessening my burden by doing so. 

I invite all who would like — whether you typically comment on blogs or not — to share in the comments any part of this post that resonated for you, any memories it may have brought up, or any other thoughts you wish to convey. 

❤ alice

“Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)” is part of an ongoing memory project. 
The entire series can be found here.

[Image: L’Origine du monde. Painting by Courbet (1866). Discretion by Alice (2016).]


Humans and Monsters Redux; or, WT-everlasting-F, Salon

[CN: pedophilia, sexual molestation, intimate partner abuse. Oh — and a quite-possibly-excessive amount of Adult Language, too.]

Disgust me once? Shame on you.

Disgust me twice? Shame on — well, actually…

Maybe at that point, Salon.com,  it’s time to put aside shame and instead ask why in the name of everything unholy and rank an editor in your Life section keeps publishing rot that trivializes victimization and reads like something straight out of an abuser’s handbook.

Just a thought.

what is this ish
Srsly, Salon. WHAT are you even doing.

So we’re all on the same page: Yes, I am referring to that “Pity the Poor Pedophile[NB: not its real title] article^ you published last month.

It would be disingenuous of me to say I’m entirely surprised, of course. of course. I’ve long approached your site in the same way I do Playboy’s: the articles are often interesting (at least Playboy’s flowcharts are), but best avoid anything marketed as explicitly sex-related unless I’m prepared to give myself a HUGE mental tidy afterwards. Which is why I was completely prepared — eager! even — to let this article go by without comment. Honest.

But then a short while later, like a dog eating its own vomit, you decided to run a second essay by the same self-declared “celibate pedophile.” For convenience, let’s refer to this one as “Pity the Poor Published Pedophile. Because Conservative Wacko-birds Have Been So Mean to Me About that First Thing I Wrote [NB: not its real title either].^

In a word: No.

The central argument of these pieces: Pedophilia is really just a form of “sexual orientation,” and — as long as the author pinkie-swears not to molest any kids — we should all feel bad for him and listen to him talking about himself as much as he wants. Because protecting children. Because not a monster.

[Got that? Errybody up to speed?

You, in the back?

‘K, great. Moving on.] 

Since the points I want to make are rather specific, I’ma borrow from Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville to do the heavy lifting of outlining the holy-jeez-this-crap-isn’t-even-original problems with that first essay [I encourage interested parties — and, really, all of you who can — to check out her whole response]:  Continue reading “Humans and Monsters Redux; or, WT-everlasting-F, Salon”

As I Am Today

The signs of domestic violence are not always outward.

Sometimes, instead of mysterious bruises or inexplicable fractures, abuse looks more like an opinionated writer slowly shifting to radio silence.

I learned last week of yet another person who met me through my then-husband, and who was convinced — because of how reserved and distant I always seemed — that I disliked her immensely. And I’ve noticed that when Facebook shows me “memories” of what I posted in past years, any comments I made prior to 2011 are rarely a full sentence in length…and often so vague even I can’t tell what I was trying to say.

FB screenshots from 2009
I mean, c’mon. What are you even talking about, Isak.

Now, I can’t say for certain (and feel free to correct me, if you think I’ve got this wrong!), but I doubt most people who have met me post-divorce — or who knew me pre-marriage — or who’ve made my acquaintance through this blog — think of me primarily as silent, unfriendly, or disagreeable.

Seven years of progressive entombment in my ex’s reality simply made me appear that way. Continue reading “As I Am Today”