women, horror, and other things not worth writing about

by Tess Nealon Raskin, age 15
women, horror, and other things not worth writing about Tess Nealon Raskin is a teenage writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York with a fish who may or may not be dead by the time you read this.

“and yes, this is the metaphor i chose to use
and maybe i am as weird as a waltzing animal cadaver
but at least you get a poem
because out of all the things not worth writing about,
i chose you”

the weight of wombs

i have seen the unborn through pale blue visions

flesh pressed against flesh

tumbling in the dark

soft cries frozen by winding membranes

tiny lungs filled with water and mucus

without thought, without unspoken language

little winter animals 

(what makes something human anyway)

i have seen the mothers collapsing like balloons

heavy inside, weighted by 

the impossible pain of miniature hearts

skin stretching just to fit the two of them

and when her body has swollen and her eyes are red

(because it is wrenching her open)

and she writhes in the dark until she feels

light, light

clean, clean

and cannot move with her spine of stone

so she reaches out with a hollow, drained body to see the thing that left her

and waits

will it cry? will it cry? will it cry?

welcome to the world!

-i want to go back

-i want to go back


wouldn’t it be funny 

if i was dead

and they put me in a boat 

of sweet-smelling evergreen wood

and rested my makeup-plastered body

on a bed of periwinkles and baby’s breath

(like it said in my will, of course)

and surrounded me with the glow of candles

and pushed me out into the icy sea

into the afterlife, the great unknown

and 3 months later

the waterlogged wood

clanks against some dock down the coast

and some white guy fishing

and posing for a tinder profile picture

sees a million soggy brown flowers and a mess of

wax, and extinguished candles

(like it said in my will, of course)

and the colony of snails making a home

in the pale swollen flesh of my face

skin peeling off my leg in soft, curling strips, 

barnacles growing on my lolling tongue,

the last clumps of my hair tangled in what was once a candle,

and yet-


i am more beautiful than i was before?


i couldn’t swing the axe so i held down your wings

spread wide apart as if in flight (but you can’t fly)

and my hands were still stained crimson.

your flesh was still tough so i boiled your body

dipping you like achilles in the river styx (but you could still die)

and my hands were still stained crimson.

you still looked whole so i peeled off your feathers

keeping a pristine white one in my pocket (and you could not protest)

and my hands were still stained crimson.

you weren’t hollow so i took out your heart

even smaller than i had expected (and it did not beat)

and my hands were still stained crimson.

*i took the feather home and i made a necklace out of it.


in time you will come 

to know the truth

about the shadows 

on the edge of the forest

about who lurks

in the murky water

about the women 

in your storybooks

but for now, 

sit on your 

sunny windowsill

up so high where 

nothing can touch you 

and read your books 

and comb your hair

and when you do

leave your tower

wrap your body

in geranium silks

tend to the rose garden                                                                                              

and cultivate your

delicate and gentle facade

and when it is

time to fetch your water

stare into the

deep and inky well

as you draw up your bucket

slowly, carefully

make sure to keep in your pocket                                             

the smooth pebble

that i put in

just for you. 

i’m wrong about movies

let me just warn you

i’m wrong about movies

i like the movies where women die

running through the dark and screaming woods

or shivering behind shower curtains

getting phone calls from child demons

hiding from their psychopath husbands

in maze-like hotels, all work and no play

staring at dolls from across empty rooms

talking to cannibals through glass curtains

following the sadistic rules of strangers

even attacked by birds, for fuck’s sake

or sometimes sharks, but usually men

i know this genre is seriously fucked up

i know these stories shouldn’t exist

i know as a woman that i wouldn’t want to be

chased through hotels and psychiatric wards

by dolls and birds and child demons

and especially not by men

i’ll apologize again

i’m wrong about movies.


oh how the dead bird danced

when it met the necromancer and his circle of blood

and it had never been able to dance before

of course it didn’t know it was dancing

but how happy it looked when it waltzed across the pentagram

and the necromancer wept at its grace

what i mean to say is, i am the dead bird

and i danced my little dance for you

because you wanted a dead-dancing bird

and yes, this is the metaphor i chose to use

and maybe i am as weird as a waltzing animal cadaver

but at least you get a poem

because out of all the things not worth writing about,

i chose you

i dreamed last night

they called it the second coming

and god had died of heatstroke

they filed us into tall white buildings

and the sea screamed and the sky broke

they prayed in long white lines

as we piled up the dead

they always blame the devil

when it’s always them instead

so we sat in ancient churches

with the windows busted in

and prayed silently to nothing

that we’d return to how it could have been

we look for faith in madness

and with the broken god we find

give our blood for the ascension

so we won’t be left behind

can you see it yet

we’re pinned to planets like moths are to corkboards

dancing and spinning with the clusterfuck carousel

that just so happens to be the universe

my horoscope insults me on a daily basis

but i dodge your questions and keep my faith

tucked away, 

and look at the stars

i might sound cliché 

maybe it’s because of mercury retrograde

that i’m not biting my tongue today

i’ll steal herbs like a pest from your garden

to appease my never-ending desire for more

the tarot cards tell me be patient, be patient

so that’s what i’ll do

and i’ll believe what i want.


the stench of youth is suffocating

it wafts through the air as if in flight

we are shut inside a cement block

the place where dreams go to die

(and hollywood goes to profit off nostalgia)

and outside the skies sit fat and heavy

where i could be shivering and drinking the rain

but instead i tap my foot against the promises

and count down the minutes

youth smells like chemicals and cannabis

i wish i could float through the bathrooms and halls 

on stick-and-poke tattoos and secondhand nicotine

but i wait at the bus alone again 

drowning out my needs with music and donuts and dehydration

i still can’t comprehend chemistry

worrier’s ghazal

the day when all the doors were opened, no one hesitated to walk out into the wind.

all agreeing not to think about what comes next.

i second-guess my own thoughts, i disregard the moment and the ability to make plans.

nobody should plan for the nothing that comes next.

in films, when a person hangs up the phone, they rest against the wall in thought.

in reality, there is much too much next.

epilogues are lusty, temptatious teasing

i lay down my sword for the possibility of next.

i go crazy when clocks tick. time doesn’t work for me like it does for others.

every turn of the little hand says next, next, next.

i lie on my back and watch dead stars lose their light. the boy i am with is silent and sleepy.

and for once, i don’t think about what comes next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *