Twinkles – a short story by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Short Stories

By eleven, the Leonard twins were a regular spectacle at Twinkles Skateland. Aunt Ina had struggled to raise them, since the age of six, after their parents murder/suicide.  Ina was an Olympic figure skating enthusiast exposing her blonde nieces to endless televised performances of the great pairs.  Ina’s favorites were Gordiva and Grinkov while the twins were obsessed, for obvious reasons, with the Carruthers siblings.  It wasn’t a stretch for Kiera and Kaci, who not only looked identical, tween twin Barbies, but also did everything together, to imagine skating together, too — though Aunt Ina explained early same sex siblings were not permitted to compete in these events.

None of this performance fantasy, of the girls, was connected to any reality or literality.  They could have never learned ice skating in their small southern town where it never snowed and no ice rinks existed.  Aunt Ina could not have afforded such fancy lessons even it had.  She could barely feed her charges and save  gas money to chauffeur them around in her peeling Dodge Caliber.  But she managed somehow, scoping out all the free activities that Florosa had to offer its youth, squirreling away dollars from her shifts at Target. 

The most popular of these activities she found to distract her tragic twins from their poor run of luck in life was the free skate at Twinkles Skateland.  On Tuesdays and Fridays and Sundays, for specific three hour slots,  under-12 kids skated free.  The rental of skates was $5 per child which was still cost prohibitive for Ina, but when she told the girls they would have to first save up the $30 to buy their own skates they both managed to find odd jobs in the trailer park to accomplish this task within a week

Their first skates were a classic white boot with pink toe stops and wheel bearings.  These  instantly became Kiera and Kaci’s mutual favorite possessions.  The twins coordinated their thrifted wardrobe to match the skates and to create a cohesion they mirrored in their synchronized routines at Twinkles.  The girls practiced endlessly gaining speed and acumen, stealing the simpler choreography from videotapes of ice skating legends.  The effect of all this combined with the twins’ doubly blessed genetics created a show that stopped even the speed  skaters in their tracks.  By the time the twins were 14, the  DJ began featuring the girls each night with a motley mix of “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, to highlight their grace,  merged a little jarringly with  “It Takes Two” as the girls exited

 to the delight of a mesmerized rink.

A little slow on the uptake that the twins had become entertainers at the roller rink (Ina enjoyed dropping the girls off and getting household chores done while they were so thoroughly occupied), their aunt caught on when 15 year old Kiera finally broke the news — they’d been asked to shoot a commercial. 

“They want to pay us $100 — each.”

Aunt Ina was no businesswoman, but she had impeccable common sense.  Twinkles was a chain of roller skating rinks.  Her nieces had endured an abysmal childhood — Ina knew only ended with the murder/suicide not started there.  Her brother was always a brute — even to her as a child.  She could only imagine what these young girls had suffered at his demented hands.  The girls never spoke of it — though they held in most things except, Ina imagined, with each other.   Whether it was a twin or a trauma bond, Ina couldn’t totally say.  Though Kiera served as the spokesperson of the two, always filling the air with a chatter of inconsequential information, it was clear there was always much about the girls’ lives Ina would never know. 

Her nieces were stunning squared.  Ina knew the most certain way out of their violent past and bleak present was to capitalize on that.   Stopping the car so she could study their inscrutable faces, she demanded to know everything they had been doing at the skating center each night. 

It was Kiera, of course, who confessed to the skate shows; Ina sighed.

“It’s how we’ve been going without paying since we aged out, Ina.  Please, you have to let us do it.  We’ll be skating on TV.”

“Oh, you’re gonna do it all right but not for $200.  Ina’s gonna sort it out.”

Sort it out Ina did.  She negotiated $1000 each for the girl’s commercial appearance as well as free pink princess skates with rainbow ribbons that the rink sold and matching pink outfits for the girls performances (two rhinestoned figure skating style outfits each and three pairs of matching shorts and tees and long socks with pink stripes).  They were Twinkle royalty now thanks to Ina. All she asked was that they never leave her out of the loop of their shared lives again when she could be so beneficial to them.  Kiera nodded and bounced her submission, but Ina wasn’t naïve enough to trust it. 

While Kiera certainly appreciated her aunt’s managerial skills.  Some Twinkles secrets, she understood, Ina could never know — like Kenny.  Kenny Stroyer became the new DJ at Twinkles two months after the twins turned 17  (celebrated at the rink with a 1700 pink balloons and a special pink light show.)  Kenny was 23, had a girlfriend who was active duty in the Navy, transferred from San Diego to Pensacola where he was forced to start over accumulating DJ gigs in a smaller town.   He’d only taken the skating rink job to get to know people when he’d arrived and was desperate to level up  the moment he walked in the Twinkles neon rainbow doors. Kiera had learned all of this in her many chats with Kenny while slipping ICEEs, sat on his work table inbetween the shows with her sister.

Kaci learned everything she knew about Kenny Stroyer through her sister.  Kaci learned most things in life this way.  Kaci felt, as long as she could remember, inherently inept at interactions while Kiera seemed gifted at the same skill. 

Kaci’s memories were rather limited to the time they’d come to Ina’s at six.  Before that time, memories were Polaroids of fragments of a crime scene that mutated and changed from tortures upon small bodies, still aching in the strangest places, to visions of actual blood and murder that made her sick to her stomach.  The Polaroid revelations were blessedly infrequently revealed — all shards of a mirror whose only purpose now was destruction of its intended beholder.   Kaci always feared if she began talking though – even casually, that these truths would all spill out from her, like the vomit that came with the worst of the Polaroids.  The disgusting truth of her insides would spill out, the ones took so much trouble to hide.

Nothing good came of talking or looking to the past, so Kaci closed her cherry glitter glossed lips and focused on the practiced perfection of the ice-skating routines, mimicking the choreography of innocence and beauty. Work made a magic of limbs that transcended the liminality of a lost adolescence.

Kiera was only eight minutes older than her sibling but the difference between the two socially felt like decades.  Kiera never knew a stranger or an obstacle she could not manipulate. Where Kaci clung to Ina and to Kiera, Kiera clung to anyone who she saw as a step away from the past.   At Twinkles, this person became Kenny.

Kaci could see it happening and guessed at its conclusion months before the girls were 18 and the inevitable coup de grace occurred.  Every time Kaci saw Kenny and Kiera in the booth, as the date  of their adulthood approached, Kiera was scooted closer, and their two heads tangled in whispers, Kiera’s long blonde locks covered Kenny’s.  In their double bed in the trailer, Kaci listened to Kiera’s side of the late night talks with Kenny that became part of their nightly routine. 

“You made that much on the dayshift?”

Kenny had been picking up open dayshifts at Sirens, a strip club, and had confided in Kiera, who’d filled in Kaci, that the dayshift DJ was completely unreliable (cocaine) and on  his way out.  The management had already asked Kenny if he could take over full-time within the next few weeks. 

As Kaci had guessed before Kiera broke the news, Kenny had broken up with his military girlfriend weeks ago.  He’d had enough cash squirreled away from his strip clubs shifts to get into a new place. Now she heard Kiera doing the mathematics of topless dancing in her head, Kaci knew what was coming.  They were both 18 in just weeks.  She didn’t exactly want to be a topless dancer; it was not a thing she’d ever imagined herself doing   Yet she knew she would follow where Kiera led.

It’s what she had always done.  No one else could understand what they had been through.  When Kiera held Kaci in the double bed, she did so knowing all the heinous secrets Kaci held tight in her throat. 

“How long do you think we can keep rollerskating for a living?  And what has it gotten us – rhinestoned outfits we hang on a curtain rod in a trailer?  It’s just choreography and a lot more money.  Kenny says it’s a classy place.  There’s nobody like us.  We’d kill.”

Kaci nodded.  There was no argument she could make.  Life was just a countdown until this new chapter with her sister began.  It certainly couldn’t be the worst chapter  — not even in the same book.

They turned 18 on a Monday but waited until Wednesday to make their move out of Ina’s.  Their aunt was doing a double shift at Target, and it gave the girls a chance to move all their meager possessions into Kenny’s new apartment in Pensacola across from the mall. 

Kiera moved into the bedroom with Kenny leaving Kaci, for the first time in her life, with her very own bedroom.   It was the first event in their emancipation from Ina  that Kaci had not expected.  It should have felt like a luxury, decorating one’s own room and stretching out under the covers as far as one’s limbs desired.  Instead it  felt lonely in a way that Kaci could not have anticipated.  Sharing a room had never been a choice.  Poverty had forced the girls together their entire lives, but it was all Kaci knew and being without it introduced a new pain to a girl who thought she had experienced all of them.  It was a shameful childish feeling Kaci could never confess just quietly cried herself to sleep the first week on the new premises.

There were other new experiences, and they were not all unpleasant.  Working at the strip club was surprisingly similar to working at the rink.  She followed choreography with her sister, a lot of the arms were the same.  Stilettos felt like roller skates in moments in the muscle memory of her legs.  A mistake would land one on the ground to the same kind of casual ridicule that could happen at the rink.  It happened to other dances there, but Kaci and Kiera never fell. 

Men had always worshipped the girls, even in their adolescence, at the rink.  Of course, most of them had contained their inappropriate feelings but the twins still read them in their long gazes.  It was the same gazes at the club; the  girls just offered more to it now.  One of the many secrets, Kaci’s cherry gloss lips kept now was that she enjoyed taking her top off for the men.  It made them quiet like her.  Speechless.  Their gaze became sad and desperate and worshipful.  Men were much more attractive like this.  Every other moment they reminded her of her father, and so she kept her distance. If they could always behave like this, she might not.  She finally understood her sister’s need to be naked with them.  When they were like this, it felt safe.

The girls worked nightshift and Kenny worked dayshift, which meant that he wasn’t around the apartment a lot while the twins were awake.  Kaci enjoyed this – the two sisters having the place to themselves.   It meant that their sleep schedule was different, too, and after a few weeks, something miraculous happened.  Kiera started sleeping with Kaci again.

“He wakes me up when he gets up so early, and it’s fucking killing me, dude.  Like Jesus Christ, I can’t have bags under my eyes – I’m the breadwinner here.”

We, Kaci thought, but characteristically kept it inside.  They’d be leaving this place soon.  Kenny, still a humble dayshift DJ, had outgrown his usefulness.  Kaci wondered if he’d learned his sister enough to know it, too, or would he be stunned like Ina when he came home one day to an empty apartment.

The girls were both asleep after sunrise when Kaci learned the answer.   It couldn’t have been more than three hours — nightshift ending at 3 am, post their regular Waffle House hash brown stop  and alternating  showers, it was always 4:30 by the time their heads got pillows. 

Kenny’s door, as usual, had been shut when the twins arrived, and the apartment was quiet.  Kaci assumed he was sleeping like usual — though each day, much like her sister apparently, she considered him less and less.  Only when Kaci felt the vibration of the bed did she remember Kenny.  For a second, remembering that she had, as she always did, lock the door to her bedroom, she  hoped  it was some PTSD of her childhood . 

Then she heard his wince and the whispered, “Motherfucker, and she knew that Kenny was really here, had pried open the door and was climbing into the bed.

Kaci smelled the liquor on his breath now as he carelessly flung himself between the two girls.  Kiera turning away from him even in his sleep.  Then he touched Kaci’s bare thigh — like it was just another limb of her sister, a limb he clearly thought he possessed though he never had — and certainly did not now.

Kaci knew there was no one to speak for her now.  She would have to do it herself.

“Kenny, stop it.  It’s me, Kaci.”

He’d laughed but the laughter was pointed and aggressive like his movements in the bed.   

“She speaks at last.  To what do I owe this pleasure?”

His face was almost touching Kaci’s in the dark.  She could almost taste the alcohol on his his breath.   The old, awful Polaroids of her childhood flashed inside her head — of nights like this with a man in her bed who didn’t care she wasn’t her mother.  She would just do.  The last was stillness and sadness and blood and then a darkness like a hole that her body floated into as she heard a scream that came from outside her body.

Was it Kiera’s scream or her own?  Kaci didn’t know.  By the time she woke, she was in her sister’s arms.  Kenny was off the bed as Kiera screamed at him.

“Get out.  You never touch her, you freak.  Get out of here.”

“This is my apartment, remember?   Mine before you ruined my life, you little bitch. You owe me — both of you owe me.”

Kenny’s face was red with rage and his body lunged at the bed as he spoke.  Kaci trembled in her sister’s arms terrified at what would happen next — until she heard her sister’s response.

“You expect two incest survivors to have incest with you?  Is that it?  What we owe you?”

Kenny was quiet.  Kaci was shocked to hear the words spoken so matter of fact and plain.  The girls had never spoken of it themselves though Kaci expected that was the privilege of a shared life, there was much that didn’t need to be spoken because it was a mutual experience.  She supposed this night would be another of such things.

“We’ll be out of here by the time you are back from work — that is if you want to continue working at the strip club.  I wonder what’s harder to replace there a dayshift DJ or two stripping twins..  Shall we find out or you wanna go to your room and leave us to our peace while we pack?”

Kenny’s stood staring at the girls an instant, his face sunken at the realization that in addition to losing Kiera, he was in danger of losing his job.  Certainly, she was right.  The girls were the most popular act at the club.  There was no doubt who management would choose.  

He walked out of the room.  Kaci took a deep breath as she heard his door shut.

“Goddamnit, so much for sleep.  Let’s get packed and I’ll call Roger at noon when he’s closer to awake and get him to pick us up.”

Roger was the night shift DJ and already Kiera’s new good friend. 

Kaci looked at Kiera.  Her squinting eyes and wrinkling forehead pronouncing all the doubt her lips dared not.

“Stop it.  We can’t afford Botox yet.  We aren’t staying with him.  We just need a car to go so see some places and somewhere to lock up our stuff. How much cash you got?”

“5,000?  Maybe a little more.”

“Fuck Roger.  Let’s call a taxi and get a hotel, a newspaper and find us a place.”

Kaci bounced and nodded and hugged her sister.  She didn’t say another word but as she hurriedly packed for what she considered her first real second chance at life, her blue eyes were full of twinkles.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist, the author of a short story collection You Don’t Want This ( Pink Plastic Press), The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and many more books.


Kristin Garth, Poetry

Fake Barbie heiress has no stock in Mattel,
faux Handler trust fund unverifiable by
Citibank so her loan could prevail.
Uses a YSL concealer to brighten
stressed eyes, Chanel Pink Fantasy tweed
so lawyers sympathize . Good ideas shod
in fraudulently purchased Jimmy
Choos sound better to bankers. Pastel facade
accessorizes an ancestry of graft,
indictments, falsified documents filed
with a steel finished handcuffed aftermath
for its creator Ruth, dollmaker exiled
from her dreamhouse company. Beats
Fake Barbie Heiress as first courtroom Barbie.

Author’s Note:

I was inspired by Inventing Anna, the Netflix documentary about the fake German Heiress Anna Sorokin who went to jail for fraud. Though it would be funny to make her a Fake Barbie Heiress — only when I was researching Ruth Handler the creator of Barbie did I learn that Ruth herself was convicted of fraud and removed from Mattel for falsifying financials, much like Anna Sorokin.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net finalist. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of many books of poetry including The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and a short story collection You Don’t Want This. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website

Dispossessed by Kristin Garth

Flash Fiction, Kristin Garth


Powder blue velvet ribbon he loops gracefully about your nape.  Grazes virgin skin perpetually hidden by the lush brunette tufts he has brushed to the side.  Nothing is rushed.  Same strange fingers he plies you have observed for years wrapped about an axe.  Peered

curiously through branches after midsummer naps of your adolescence, adrift from your  bed.  Beyond the boundaries of your father’s dominion, you, often, are led to this log cabin abutting the property lines. 

You are thirteen the first time you spy the smoke from its chimney amidst the dense long leaf pines.  Tiptoe one day, like prey, wide eyed, to what you might find.  Comfort and innocence you leave behind, with your mind, all ideas of who you will be.  You stumble on sticks, caressed by a beneficent breeze until you see it, at last, set against a sky, powder blue — the chimney of smoke, a log cabin, too, and a man, ax in his hand, which swings, indifferent to you, towards a ring of dead tree deftly split in two.

Raven hair roughed up by air of his potent swing, the pink of one cheek, in profile, glistening as he works, oblivious to you.  Wait helpless there, a fawn in the dew until he is finished and walks straight away. Not even quite certain he sees you that day.  He puts down his axe, without pause, and withdraws to a front door he will, unceremoniously, close.   How many nights you wake up in sweaty smocked rose bedclothes.

You wander back towards this cabin for years.  Last time you watch from a distance, eyes brimming with tears, after a marriage proposal that would take you away from your father’s grand home, this secret place where you stray. 

Today he takes notice.  Looks you in the eye.  Your flesh is immovable save tremors that trail up your thighs to that place you disgrace yourself, closed eyes, in bed since you were led to his cabin to wait.  Spread yourself wide in the dark.  Steal from your father’s kitchen a serrated blade to trace places you would offer to a woodsman, when bade – a marked succubus inside the untouched form of the seraphim. 

After he makes a study of your dark eyes, he will turn away towards his cabin as he has eons of yesterdays.  Heart aches even more, ignored, than it did, unnoticed, before until you realize he has left it wide open, his log cabin door.  Legs follow without hesitation, clumsy on stairs.  He demands removal of clothes right then and there.  Brushes your hair.  Loops the powder blue velvet ribbon against the nape of your neck, ties it, high, in a bow.  Lays you back on a table, spread wide, to inspect a guilt he will nurture in his humble chateau – marked by his hand with a powder blue bow.


There are paintings of dolls over some of his walls, powder blue bows, entreating eyeballs.  Wide, pleading irises in complimentary hues stare at their new sister he has brought them in you.  On the far side of the room, he reaches for a switch from a collection of intimidating accouterments— paddles of wood carved by his skill hand. Whips and ropes on hooks you will wail from, be expected to withstand.  He leans over to hold you then growls in your ear.  “If you stay I will hurt you, but I will not keep you here.”

You try to respond with a nod, but he says you must speak.  Manage, “Yes, sir,” as he tastes a tear from your cheek.  Tells you to turn over – his switch tickling your thighs.  Hold onto the table; squeeze shut your eyes, but your ears still hear his swing in the air before your ass feels the strike.  The howl you make is your original animal fright though somehow you stay quite still for three strikes more. 

The body betrays when he gets to four, constricts your limbs.  Becomes as miniscule as it can.  He coaxes it open with magnanimous hands.  Fingers in furrows make you forget anything not powder blue, the sting of his punishment, your purported virtue.  Hear yourself begging for things you don’t know.   He whispers in your small ear while he strokes you slow.  “I can’t cum inside you until I have one more blow.”

He pulls out sodden fingers to cover your mouth. Red tremulous flesh you trade for pleasures you can no longer breathe without.  He offers no mercy with this last bow.  It cuts your spirit in two, but both of you know it is worth it when he pushes inside.  Moan into his chest as a new pain sanctifies each hole which he enters as you suffer true. 

To think you once paraded in kitten heeled shoes before boys who would breed you when daddy will choose. Felt a silent power gestating inside you each one you peruse, deny the upturn corners of lips you would not smile or part — glowering with pride.  Yet for this stranger you would tear them apart if he would be satisfied.  Split the tight corners of a stunted child’s smile, you should have long since outgrown becoming fertile.  Widen it hopelessly around his vicious cock, your hair in his hands, down your throat a shock of something unexpected that makes you shudder and choke. 

He carries you after to a plush rug by the fire.  Your eyes strain to stay open while he retires to his chair to smoke, speak of demons who float in the powder blue air, beasts he fought in this forest while you nod off somewhere to your first ever peace – released by his hand.

When you wake, he will bathe you and dress you for return, to avoid your father’s reprimand, in a once favorite frock for which, now, you care not the least.   Only the powder blue velvet ribbon he straightens brings any relief.  “Wear it as long as you belong to me.”

“May I come tomorrow?  I will find a way.”

He says in a powder blue velvet ribbon you can come everyday. 


Wake the next morning in a canopy bed, same curtained monstrosity where you have laid your head each naive night of your Lilliputian life, hidden in orgiastic dreams until you become wife.  It seems, now, only a prison of satin and lace scratching your welts, holding you in place.  The only comfort here is the bow, powder blue, on the top of your head, slightly askew from tortured sleep in your childhood bed — the girl it once belonged to only yesterday dead.

Your immodest corpse foregoes a petticoat, settles upon a pastel red dress, easy to unbutton, flesh to express – you aspire always to be a considerate guest.  Make hurried excuses to the staff on the stairs.  Scurry to the woods before father’s aware.  Run through the forest, your skirt balled up in each hand. 

When you reach his cabin, there is no sign of the man.  Still unbutton your dress as soon as your spy the open door.  Strip on the porch.  Throw clothes on the floor. Hurry towards the fire where he sits, near, in his tufted gentleman’s chair.  He smiles as you realize he is not alone there.

The clink of a teacup alerts you to her violet stare.  Fingertips attempt to cover pert nipples,

the pubic hair no other human but the stranger has seen.  Before you realize your error, you hear in your ear, mean, the order for you to drop your hands. 

“You can leave right now. If you stay, understand, anyone here is our invited guest.”

He squeezes your neck.  You move your trembling head yes.

“You’ve come just in time to serve us more tea.”

You refill each cup conscientiously — first the stranger’s, then his violet-eyed company.  Her strokes of your welts on your ass are an anodyne.  Tells you to put down the teapot.  Turn off your mind.  Lean over the settee.  Do it as quick as you can and as stoically.  Your head to one side, angled to him.  Feel her cool lips tracing your well-wounded skin, then a wet tongue disappearing into a place that makes you whimper and writhe.  Her fingers he tastes.  She turns you over and opens you wide while he scoots closer to see. 

“Make her beg you for more.”

She makes you crawl on the ground and into a small saucer pours you some tea with a dollop of cream.  

“Lick it up like a kitty and we will make you scream.”

Breathless and restless for what will be done, you lap it gracelessly down with a desperate pink tongue.  Then the mistress beseeches, rubbing circles with her fingertips.  Crawl quickly towards her though midway you slip.  Hear both their lewd laughter that makes you blush. 

“Do not scare her, Paul.  She’s feeling the rush.”

Though it’s hard to move, you reach the sanctuary of her spread lap.  Could crawl on top, curl up for a nap, but she pushes your goosebumped form low on his parquet floor.  By the nape of your neck, she trains you, slow, to adore her with your small kitten mouth — tongue deep in her holes until she is prone on the couch.  No longer the mentor but only maiden who moans. 

The commands you receive now come from the master alone – a drone of demands in a deep baritone that quiver your bones even when they grow faint.  When he covers your eyes, you risk no complaint – a fabric in pitch through which you can’t see.  He lifts you from the floor almost reverently. Plants a kiss on your forehead as he carries you, like a bride, to the sunshine outside.  Heat on your skin makes you wetter inside.

Beneath the blindfold the world rocks to and fro.  Lays you down upon flannel and enters you slow near the pink muhly grass that tickles your flailing toe — the sounds of your pleasure echoing surrounding sparrows.  Fingers push into your mouth, more clutch at your breasts.  Gasp at the knowledge there are too many hands and a chorus of breaths.  He removes the blindfold so you can see how many strangers have come to his licentious party. Through the tea party haze, at first it seems a half dozen — those it is only three, two women, one men, all touching and tasting what the master has brought.

He strokes your powder blue bow, absent all thoughts, while he cums on your chest, a treat quickly devoured by his most rapacious guests who take their time and their pleasure with the master’s new toy.  Stay until dusk, exhausted with joy your privileged life never offered before.  Delay, as long as you may, your return to your father’s door.  But the master says you must — if you might come again. 

As he helps you into your dress, you stroke the powder blue ribbon.  You walk arm in arm to the edge of woods while he redefines, for you, the meaning of “good.”  Watches while you walk the rest of the way dressed like the unhappy girl you were only yesterday.  Sneak in a back door hoping no one will see how late you have been gone, how much you changed, the new powder blue bow, always so meticulously arranged. 

Run into your father on the way up the stairs. 

“Will you not join us for dinner?”

You cannot meet his inquisitive stare.

“Not feeling well I’m afraid.  Better just sleep.” 

Hurry past him towards your room to hide in carnation pink sheets.  Touch every used part .  Count each rabid heartbeat until blood moonbeams deliver your enslaved spirit to him in his log cabin again.  Even your unconscious young mind waits in attendance to service his feral whims.


You wake the next morning to the odor of smoke from a dream in which a Burmese python inched its pale yellow girth down your widening throat — not at all where you hoped to be led prone and hypnotic in your canopy bed.  Dread so real you shudder, until, by curiosity, you are lead toward the scent and descent of a thin trail of smoke to the open window.  Surely noon by the breadth of the sunbeams followed.  Is it any wonder you slept late after yesterday’s extremes? Pull on a quilted mint cloak to find out what the smoldering means.  

As you walk to the window, your skeleton shakes though its openings tingle with promise of a season of enchanting new aches.  Pull the powder blue ribbon to make sure it lies straight. Look towards the woods where you cannot wait to be.  See a dark cloud above that makes your eyes overflow with a bottomless grief your brief little life never bequeathed before.  Run in only the cloak your through your father’s door all the way to the edge of the woods, promising demons you will never be good one damned day of a life, not that long, if today you could only be wrong.  But each step closer to the cabin, the smell of smolder becomes ever more strong.

Arrive to the place where the log cabin stood when you left at dusk — now some smoldering ash in a clearing of mauve-colored brush, woods where your lust was laid bare.   Some pieces of burnished rubble remain that might be the sette or the chair.   Fall to your knees wondering is he somewhere in there?  Would he burn it down with the switches, the paintings of dolls?  You gave him everything — maybe things you do not even recall through the haze of the tea you happily sipped to become finally alive.   Would he have just burned it all down?   Or did he not survive? 

Could it have been your father who recognized it in you — your eyes on the floor, the bow, powder blue?  Did he send men, maybe the would-be fiance, to burn down this peculiar joy while you slept yesterday?  

You run to the center of the smoldering dirt. Throw yourself onto embers craving something to hurt on the outside as much this loss does within — rubbing any remainders into your useless young skin.  Could it be part of him this ash you press into your pores — a piece of the switch which transformed you, one perfect day, into one of his powder blue whores? 

No more will you be — but neither a provincial girl.  Belong more to this dirt than any faux civilized world of your father who maybe murdered you here.   Scream for a sign until you see through dirty tears a glint of silver near the stump by the magnolia tree.   It is the axe he once held, the way he did you, with such authority and a silver shovel that looks like an answer to you.

Throw off the mint cloak before you begin.   Stand inside what once was the log cabin with your exposed skin the way he demanded and you would learn, so soon, to comply.   Does your skin glisten as pink as his when you watched nearby as he used the axe for years before he used you?   Dare not think of the reason you dig throughout the afternoon.   Only stop when it’s deep enough for you forever to hide.  Drop yourself in with the shovel — the accepted procedure for everything that has died.  Use it to pour enough dirt to knock you on your back.   A powder blue sky goes, for you, forever black.  But you know, one way or the other, you will remain surrounded by him.  Push the ashes and dirt of this sacred place everywhere he has been.  Open your mouth, though it hurts to breathe.  Soil and the ash are the last tortures he leaves.   Hurts more to go on outside of this cabin you grieve.   Every breath that you take contains a piece of wood he carved, the rug where he placed you, sated, once starved, to rest — in peace, for the first time.  Rather lie down in his shrine than die dispossessed.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of many books of poetry including The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and a short story collection You Don’t Want This.  She is the editor of seven anthologies and the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

Angel pussy by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Punk Noir Magazine

for Moondog of Korine’s The Beach Bum 

is both an actual albino feline, 

the fountainhead where manchild poets

recline, vivisect viscous valentines

with mollycoddled tongues (though it’s 

been years since they were remotely young)

because they are only beautiful when 

they are inside.  They will always come 

back home to hide when the season

of hurricanes prohibits houseboats, 

well hung coxswains their steerage in

the deepest drink. With bandaged heads, they float 

towards Pabst Blue Ribbons on silver trays

to woo sugar mommas on grand Steinways. 

How To Attend The Murder Trial of a Secret Admirer With No Impulse Control Without Really Trying  by Kristin Garth  

Kristin Garth, Punk Noir Magazine

Professor recommends a murder trial.
More hours to observe the court reporting:
most likely days, even a week, his smile
ruddies geriatric cheeks, won’t be boring.

Peruse the paper. Chose a random one.
Boy your age appeals a stabbing which he
attempted to outrun, verdict he hopes undone
by evidence — traumatic brain injury,

no impulse control. Gallery, find a seat.
Defendant turns his head to smile discreet more
than once until his lawyer’s stare burns your cheek.
You have never seen his client before.

Dishwasher, waiter ex later explains,
“wanted to fuck Wednesday Addams,” your nickname.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 21 books of poetry including Crow Carriage (Sweet Tooth Story Books) and The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and the editor of seven anthologies. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

1 Nancy Drew sonnet by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

The Mystery at Lilac Inn 

an erotic noir after a Nancy Drew Title 

Lie on your side in a lavender inn,

lachrymose, on an island off of 

Michigan.   Lilac crown bobby-pinned

to periwinkle hair, longing for love  

in mauve underwear.  A rose martini,

completely sipped, becomes smudged looking glass, 

magenta lipstick, when the sound of key 

card, stroke of strange fingertips on lace trimmed ass

amidst a June solar eclipse exhibits 

its lilac lady with veiled reverence. Face

to the window, stars draped in toile chintz, 

one cheek aflame on a silk pillowcase,

warm lips on your spine do their best to resolve 

the mystery of you a tongue might solve. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

2 Nancy Drewesque noir sonnets by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry

The Hidden Staircase 

after Nancy Drew, Number Two, in which 

Nancy Drew investigates in tunnels and

 hidden staircases and I investigate

the hidden staircase to peace of mind

one descends in meditation and


A hidden staircase wraps about our spines

descending when the obicularis 

occuli buries eyes in flesh confines;

oblivion abducts embryonic minds.  Mist 

obscures succeeding steps.  Mirrored walls

reflect phosphorescent silhouettes which 

we understand are consequent to all

the deliquesce of desiccating witches,

withered of their wherewithal.  We sink

into ovate interiors deprived 

of macaroon exteriors, penny 

loafers, antique broach, cream crocheted knee-high

socks, unrealistic hopes for mankind

left behind investigating peace of mind. 

The Bungalow Mystery 

after Nancy Drew, Number Three, in which 

Nancy Drew investigates a fraud in a bungalow. 

In this sonnet I encounter a fraud in a bungalow. 

He wears tailored suits, says he has meetings.

In his bungalow, you crawl across his sheets 

for beatings towards a silver buckle V,

doubled over leather snaps viscously.  

He asks, after, questions, gives you advice. He 

critiques nude careers while you play nice — ten 

years your senior, respect his mystery

and age.  Swallow what is offered then 

politely disengage once you are untied 

from posts of his living room bed,

pedantic semantics in lieu of lies.  

He is ever careful with what is said

commentary on what you do to pay bills.

Does not mention his trust fund and never will. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

The Secret of the Old Clock by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry

after Nancy Drew, Number One, in which

Nancy Drew finds a will in an old clock

that gave her a vocation;

I found a will in an old house

that gave me a location.

Not the antique clock but the document 

inside, Nancy Drew must find to be a

bona fide girl detective.  For you, it went —

find papers in a house flooded by a bay,

a deceased stranger hid decades away in 

thirty two hundred square feet with secret 

rooms, architectural conceits, a sin

they went unnoticed before. Subsequent 

to searching, you adore this place more 

until all is saved by a forgotten safe.

Top once drilled open then replaced with poured 

concrete (?!?)  a sledgehammer breaks. A waif 

with a clue becomes a proprietor

of a house of words in woods evermore.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

One sonnet from Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth

When I See The Newly Discovered Pastel Planet

for TOI 1338b discovered by a 17 year old NASA intern 

Know I’ll soon awake, a tent over my house.  

Bubble of plastic, scientist  run in 

and out of a vacuum-sealed tunnel which spouts

from the open rectangle which had been 

my front door when I fell asleep before 

the fear of radioactive spores led 

doctors in space suits to my second floor —

there the cotton candy hued light imbedded 

unknowingly, in my chest will pulse in 

bubblegum pastels demanding egress. 

Soon subject of a failed experiment,

alien in raspberry toile sundress,

rides a pink bike across your baby blue moon 

toward my opalescent space commune.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website

Pendulum by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry


It swings across the width of an oversized

iMac retina screen.  The flower of life, 

a hexagonal tanzine, he describes,

while it glides through the air like a knife,

how it can carve a third eye out of 

any odd life.  Strife disappears as two 

eyelids descend.  What will open above 

begets a novel vision, virginal hues 

imbued to a world once sinister, strange.  

His pendulum rocks until anatomy 

is romantically rearranged. You change 

in its period to a wide eyed baby

whispered lullabies of a beckoning bay

you ought to discover in darkness today.