Thursday, August 30, 2012

#15 half way done

Freak Show

what's it to you, mister?
staring at me like that
like i'm some kind of freak

who cares that i wear my heart
hanging right round my neck
a big bloody trophy
that my skin is scarred with them
self-made wounds
i'm a self made creature!
with my tale writ large

do you really give a fuck that my back sprouts wings
out of the cartilage thin fierce whirs

what's it to you old man?

i'm fish scales and goat hooves and claw feet and cat tails
i'm teeth and i'm flesh and i'm hair in the places
you didn't approve
i'm your greatest night mare and the thing you want to possess
a sideshow in a cage
a trophy on your wall

in another time and place they'd give me a different name my friend
they'd call me goddess
they'd call me artist
they'd call me woman


The Sandman

i made him of black sand
still wet from the ocean
his lips were plums
his legs were small trees
his hands were palm fronds
his sex an obelisk
his ribs were the cage of an ibis

i lay my head on his chest and some grains
got into my eyes
and i dreamed
of how the sandman
came to life
slid himself inside me
and obliterated my fears for one night

oh sandman return with your dreams
but in exchange
you may not have my eyes
to feed your children
in their nest on the moon
made of iron

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


ice queen

"i'm so cold" my mother said
"come warm me
"there's a lady in the room"
when i arrived
at the small spanish apartment
with white roses in the front
my mother was all jutting bones
in her little pink pajamas
i tried to thaw her
i didn't see the ice queen
but i knew she was there
watching us
taloned fingers long as hands
skin a silver blue
and her touch a burn
like i used to feel
sticking my tongue into the ice tray as a child
i didn't beg my mom to stay
i sat beside her as the day turned gold then gray
then black
through the shut windows
"i love you" we said, again and again
all we had left
all there was that mattered
it did not melt the queen
her gray eyes were pools of frost
black lake of something
waiting underneath
it did not make her leave
but when my mother finally smiled and took her hand
someone else arrived
in that dim and musty room
someone my mother recognized
someone she'd been waiting
a quarter century to join
someone who had once been

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kirkus Elementals Review

Silver rings, a profusion of flowers, hazy graveyards and perhaps the fae embroider this hypnotic tale.

Block (Pink Smog, 2012, etc.) returns with her distinctively smoldering style. ...shimmering imagery and nimble characterization. On a school-sponsored visit to UC Berkeley, Ariel Silverman’s best friend, Jeni, strangely disappeared. Just as Ariel herself is set to go off to Berkeley, her paren
ts reveal that Ariel’s mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Still reeling and numb with grief, Ariel heads to college, determined to pursue the mystery of Jeni’s disappearance. Life quickly becomes a routine of classes, running and passing out flyers with Jeni’s face. To escape frat boys, obnoxious football players and her lascivious roommate, Ariel begins to wander the streets at night. On Halloween, an ominous giant of a homeless man hands her a flyer, an invitation to a party at the House of Eidolon. Given that dorm life is hell, Ariel goes to the party, and there, her life takes a sudden, irrevocable turn. The gorgeously Gothic house is home to three enigmatic graduate students who seduce Ariel into their glamorous lives. Perry, faunlike with his curly hair and sly attentiveness, is a classics major. Bewitching Tania has focused her psychology studies on magic, divination and superstition. Yet Ariel’s eyes lock with those of John, who is studying the continuance of the soul. Worried still about Jeni, Ariel soon finds herself physically compelled to return again and again to her enchanting new friends. Why does she feel ill without them? Who is the giant who seems to be lurking about? What does the tattoo on John’s wrist say? Why is Tania so welcoming? And how does Jeni fit into the puzzle?

Well-paced and lushly written.


#francescaliablock #theelementals #signing
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 (Tentative)
7:30 PM
Mysterious Galaxy Books in Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Blvd.
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Saturday, October 20, 2012
1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Chevalier’s Books
126 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004



Sunday, November 11, 2012
4:00 PM
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
W. Hollywood CA 90069


My Mother's Hair

when she was a baby she stood out in the sea of dark-haired cousins
like a bright-blond reflection of a star
disconcerting everyone with her smile
as a teen she posed red-lipsticked over her shoulder glancing
that famous hair curled marilyn style
you should have seen it!

as a bride in satin blond as she
the rest of the world just paled around her
then she divorced her husband and let her hair grow long
tied it in a braid dressed in peasant blouses went off to college
met my father
he released the long and golden strands
they saved him from the darkness
but agitated me when i was born
and when i could speak demanded that she wear her braid again
too much softness! too much light! i couldn't bare it
even as a baby i knew i could never be
a woman like her
never stop men on the street
and rescue one the way she had my father

i grew up dark-haired sullen like those faceless cousins
no one's starlight
no one's sun
how i wanted to shine like her
hacked off my own hair
burned it raw with bleach
it didn't work
and finally
when i had begun to accept myself
she was already growing tiny, losing hair
and then so sick she couldn't eat or bathe or walk
she didn't want the surgery
she didn't want the chemo
she would have preferred the darkness the oblivion the ashes
but even as she died
held in our arms no more rapunzel
her eyes her smile
they set the world

Saturday, August 25, 2012

#11 one third done

twelve dancing princesses/soul sisters (for all my writer friends)

aurora, larissa, jenna, mckenna
jessa and laura and mika and sarah
natalie, melanie, ashley and mandy

how did they find each other?
across a map of light
that connected souls
words they recognized
sending out the signals
bruise, burn
until they danced forth from their secret rooms
across electric continents
to the wicked witch's ball
they stayed all night until feet bled
they were locked up
and bodies fed
with tubes

the only thing that saved them
were the words they scrawled
revealing all
for freedom can't be kept
from a girl (or twelve, or more)
with pen and wall

dahlia magical creatures

"Terri Windling's life's work serves as an illustration of that concept; in her work, she has exposed the problems that plague society, repeatedly, through the medium of metaphor, which has served civilization steadfastly over the years. As she says, in a moment of epiphany, looking back upon what she has produced in art and literature, 'I saw that I had been telling the truth all along, in the metaphoric language of fairy tales, in its age–old symbols. Here were the poisoned apples, the coat of nettles, the girl whose hands were cut off and replaced with silver. Here was the princess Donkeyskin, who fled from her father and her father's bed. Sleeping Beauty was an image that I returned to again and again: the sleeping girl, innocent, vulnerable and yet protected by a wall of thorns as sharp as knives. Fairy tales were a kind of magic that protected me as a child. Not my body, bruised and battered; they protected my spirit and kept it alive.'"
k by Helen Pilinovsky

Friday, August 24, 2012



before my mother died
she told my father he must only marry
one as doe-eyed as she
one who knew domestic arts
and could please him in the bedroom as she had
so on my twelfth birthday
when i brought him a cake made with rosemary and wild
berries and my tears
not knowing what she had told him
he looked into my eyes and stroked my skin
presented me her ruby ring
for he had taken it
before he buried her
and i could almost see the phantom of her thin white finger
pointing at me from inside

i looked at him with my mother's eyes
and told him only
if he found the magic deer
that roams the woods
would i be his

he sent out his men to find her and they brought her back to me
she reminded me of mother
and i wept into her fur
begging her to save me

thus i was transformed into a doe like she
and i ran fast and far
with the king's men at my hooves
until i reached another land

there the prince he captured me
in his golden net
and brought me to his castle
where i was fed and watered
free to roam as i saw fit
the secret woods

we shall see if he loves me enough
to let me remain a deer until i'm ready
or else i'll be a monster
half human and half beast
chained by the throat
my father's daughter


The Blind Prince

when i fell onto the thorns they tore out my eyes
and so I stumbled in the dark forest
lost without you my green-haired maiden

all i want is to see your elfin face again
gazing at me with dew-sparked, leaf-eyed wonder
as if i am the only man in the world
(and so, in that tower world made by a witch i was)
but my sockets are empty
caterpillars nest there and the seeds of the rose bush
soon i will have flowers growing from my head
and butterflies flying forth from it

how could i ever have taken sight for granted?
angry at the injustices i saw in the world around me
the beggars in the street, the dying children, my own weakness
my secret fear of even your otherworld features, your shining body
now i wish to see it all, to help and grow, to be worthy of you
to overcome my terror and rescue you as i once promised
but i can only stumble over gnarled roots
like a witch's fingers
sleep on the mossy earth
reaching out for you, maiden, in my sleep
believing i smell violets
and waking with dried leaves crumbling in my hands
and a heart as dead as my eyes

someday you will find me
i know this
for you lifted me to your breast on the ladder of your hair
someday you will weep on my face
as you once did when we lay together in your tiny bed
thanking me for finding you
when even your parents had forsaken

this time your tears will heal me and give me sight
eyes will grow fresh in me like small animals
never again will i fall from you
never again will i refuse to see


The Locked Garden

i ate the bitter plant with the same lust i felt at wanting a child
gulping down handfuls of shredded leaves before the nausea hit again
the only thing i could stomach
my mouth and eyes watered, salacious i climbed the fence tearing my silken petticoats
i got down on my knees in the dirt scraping my chin with twigs
my knees embedded with pebbles
i would have eaten the moist earth too but my husband stopped me
he took me in his arms and brought me home but each night i escaped and went back
sucked on the plant, devouring

when my child was born with her long green hair smelling of leaves
and her leaf shaped eyes
the witch who owned that locked garden threatened me with death
if i did not give my daughter up
i refused ready to die in an instant rather than lose her
i'm a mother after all
i wondered how i could ever have loved a plant when i held my baby
with her tendril fingers

but again the king, my husband intervened and at twelve
she was gone
taken to the tower
a young woman with breasts as big as mine and long colt legs
skin like white roses that grow in witch's gardens
her hair a stepladder of green but not for me
everyone talks about her fate and the fate of the prince who saved her
but i'm the one who suffered the true loss
me with my rapacious hunger
i'm the one who made the gravest

Thursday, August 23, 2012

#7 suza scalora fairy

The Dead Girl

we're very popular these days
why wouldn't we be?
smiling in the photos before we were taken
young pretty and missing
but there's another reason
(we'll tell you, later)

well the ancient greeks liked us, too
we're in almost all the fairy tales
but those guys brought us back to life
with just a kiss
or transformed us into something
a flower or a tree
or, at least, like shakespeare, immortalized us with poetry
(it's not always that simple)

think of the transparent coffin, the wall of briars
think of the lake filled with flowers
where our hair floats like the roots of water lilies
these may be pretty images but we're so alone
we suffered more than you the living
will ever know
and even if you kiss our lips
we'll still taste like a glass box
(and soon we'll start to rot)

but you'll keep worshiping our memory
we hold a mystery you sense but haven't solved
in us She is carried down through time
(in us She lives)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The Prince

she never dreamed of him
if she had he would have startled her awake
the image sucked back into her unconscious before she could capture it

she dreamed of lesser men
and when she saw him
standing in the dirt against the hot summer trees
admiring her silver shoes
she could not even imagine
that he would touch her
with more than his hot summer smile

but later he would hold her
before the mirror
showing her the combined creature
that their bodies made
something so taking-of-breath
she could hardly recognize it
for her head was light
a-spin with a storm
of wings and flowers

later still she would run from him
afraid he would see what she really was
and leave her
so she ran first
down the steps of her dreams
back to the cellar
hiding amongst cobwebs
doing the witch's work
but growing slowly stronger day by day

it would be a long time before she had the dream
of his palace of gray marble
furnished in crystals tall as he
and tables topped with pools of lotus
floating and pink as her hidden self
it would be a long time before he held her again
and she did not deny that he was really there
and she did not run

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Deer Brother

i told you not to drink from the first spring
and you did not become a tiger
i told you not to drink from the second spring
and you did not become a wolf
you would not listen to me when i told you not to drink from the third spring
and you became a deer
your eyes are still big and brown lined with long lashes
your fur is the burnished color that was once your hair
your hooves and tail never make me forget that we once shared a womb

you live with me in the thatched cottage in the woods
i wreathe you in columbine and primrose
we eat our nuts and berries
we drink our fill from the stream outside our door
no witch has poisoned it with the spell of beasts
you no longer speak but in the evenings rest your head upon my knee
and gambol in the redwood trees by day
briefly forgetting the grief that you are not a boy

i worry for your safety when you roam
but i cannot control you any more
than when you dipped your face to the third spring
the silver water tainted, bewitched but oh so sweet
and tasting of wild mint

i know there are hunters in these woods
in orange vests and with big guns
once i dreamed of a little girl
younger than i, with metal on her teeth and a big buck bleeding in her lap
in the back of a truck
her face was as depraved as our stepmother's
and i wonder if it was she, visiting me with the reminder
that she cursed that spring
and took my twin from me

but no matter the danger
someday we will venture forth from these woods, brother
we cannot live alone forever
a girl and her deer
i grow thirsty for a young man's love
as you for that water
i understand you now

for human hands on my throat
i would risk becoming an animal, becoming a ghost

Monday, August 20, 2012


The Faerie

she tried to change them
the one who was crude with self loathing
stuffing fruit in his cheeks and swinging
by tail from rafters
she tried to console
the one who was more than half dead
a beautiful zombie
she showered with praise
morning dew sparking the spider's web
she wrote him stories
of love and worship
the one who was kinky and cold
she wept on his chest to thaw his heart
she rubbed salve on his head
to melt the horns
the one who was bitter and cruel
she wrote poems for him
for thirty days straight
to heal his wounds
she rubbed cream on his hooves to give him back feet
finally she gave up on all of them
what business did she have to change them?
her magic could be used for better purposes

so she was alone
and then finally another one came
no demon he, just a man
and she knew none of them had really been demons at all
perhaps they had become what they were because of her?
she hadn't noticed the tail or hooves or horns at first
the rotting flesh
no, she might have been responsible
but this man, she let him be
she let him lead her
she let him come and go
she let him have his silence
she knew that if the pain became too great
she would not try to make him
something he was not
she would simply use her spells upon herself
and leave

The Elementals PW Review


The Elementals
Francesca Lia Block. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-00549-6
Block (Pink Smog) skillfully weaves an occult thread throughout her thrilling new bildungsroman. Ariel, a freshman at UC Berkeley, has moved to the California college in order to uncover the fate of her best friend, Jeni, who disappeared in the area a year ago during a college scouting trip. In the course of her inquiry, the lonely Ariel meets John, Tania, and Perry, charismatic bohemian grad students who rename her Sylph and seduce her into their circle with a heady mixture of sexuality, drugs, mysterious elixirs, and portentous talk of magic. Ariel soon falls for John, and their consuming love eclipses Ariel’s quest for the truth behind Jeni’s disappearance. But when the ominous rhetoric of her new friends begins to shed light on Jeni’s tragic fate, Ariel realizes she must make a decision that could cost her everything, including her life. Block’s fresh take on the coming-of-age story is a compelling and quick read, and her dark renderings of familiar college types will keep readers engaged and guessing as the pages fly by. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: September 1, 2012
The Elementals.
Block, Francesca Lia (Author)
Oct 2012. 320 p. St. Martin's, hardcover, $24.99. (9781250005496).
A newly enrolled freshman at Cal Berkeley, 18-year-old Ariel, is distraught by her mother’s cancer and the disappearance of her best friend, Jeni, whom she vows to find. In the meantime, Ariel meets a trio of eccentric graduate students, John, Tania, and Perry, and quickly falls in love with John and, to a lesser extent, with the other two as well. But love, as Block has written elsewhere, is a dangerous angel, and Ariel’s encounters with her new friends soon take on an ominous tone as The Elementals becomes a fever dream of a novel, an exercise in the surreal. Who are John, Tania, and Perry? Could they be figures from a dream or figments of the increasingly troubled Ariel’s imagination? And might she find Jeni through them? Few novelists mix reality and magic better than Block, though the magic here is very dark, and the atmosphere she creates with her richly ornamental language is sometimes as purposely oppressive as a greenhouse on a hot summer day. Drawing on occasional elements from her earlier work, Block has nevertheless fashioned a novel that is both familiar and original and represents a new and salutary maturity in her evolving work.
— Michael Cart

Sunday, August 19, 2012


The Demon Wolf

it was like the wolf in the story
first it grew inside of grandmother
a tiny thing with fangs and rough fur
making her bleed
then it grew larger and spread to anther place
the woodsman tried to cut it out but it left him rocking on the floor
wailing, with his head in his hands
he staggered into the night crying that there were demons
he was right but i hated him for saying it
finally it grew so big it ate her
i got down on my knees and asked it to eat me too

she was as tiny as a child lying in my arms inside of it
the smell was foul and i tried to breathe through my mouth
our skin and hair were slick with blood and entrails
i waited for the woodsman to come and rescue us
but he was long gone
staggering to his mother's bed

grandmother turned to me and whispered
"darling, what are you doing here? you do not belong here"
"come with me," i said
her eyes suddenly flashlights in the gloom of its belly
i saw her smile and shake her head
"everything will be all right"
she gestured to her body
"except for this
go now"
at the last moment i took my axe called poetry
and cut my way out
the demon wolf dissolved around her
but she was gone
i bathed her body and kissed her cheek and dressed her in fresh linen
i buried her in the garden
where the red roses grow
and no demons are allowed, no more