Rowena was hiding behind the rosebush in her garden, watching Julian through his window. He was having his morning cup of coffee. Rowena was jealous of that cup. She was jealous of anything he touched and anyone not too timid to be close to him.

Rowena had been watching Julian since the first day he came to the neighborhood, about six months ago. It was his fault; he had such magnetism it was criminal. He lived opposite her, and she had caught many precious glimpses of him doing this or that. Tableaux of Julian, she called them.

Julian didn’t know she existed, and that had to change. Speaking to him was out of the question, though. She would blush; the very thought made her feel a hot flash. She had to find a way to be seen and remain unseen at the same time. She locked herself in the house for a week, to think.


Julian gaped at the duchess strolling up and down his street one Monday morning, dressed in Dangerous Liaisons’ fashion. He looked around to see the rest of some film crew. He saw no one. The duchess passed by him. Behind her heavy face powder he guessed delicate features, and a petite body under her grand dress. The duchess smiled and then walked past him with an air of pride and dignity. Julian watched her disappear around the corner. Then he got in his car and drove to work. There, among files and phone calls, he never gave her a second thought.

But in the evening, when he got home, an old witch was standing outside his door. She was crooked and gray, and looked as if she was waiting for him. Julian’s hands started to tremble. ‘What do you want?’ he snapped. The witch said nothing, but kept staring. And then she smiled all black teeth. Before he could say another word, she pivoted and ran away, disappearing around the corner. That night Julian had trouble sleeping.


Rowena was having a great time renting costumes and watching online tutorials on theatrical makeup. She stalked Julian dressed as a pimply pirate, a gleaming ghost, a flaxen fairy, a cloaked monk. Her greatest success was when she dressed as Death. Julian really noticed her. He was adorable.

Soon Rowena couldn’t tell whether she was motivated by her attraction to Julian or by her freshly dug up talent for disguise. She thought about it when she stayed in bed for a few days; she had dressed as a harlequin on stilts and sprained her ankle. She reached no conclusion, but it didn’t really matter.


Julian got a new job. He paid his bills, packed his things and moved out of his house – and out of the city. As his plane to nights of peaceful sleep was taking off, he smiled happily to the passenger sitting next to him. It was a woman, a little younger than Julian, somewhere in her early twenties. She was petite, with a delicate face, and her cheeks were tinted by the rosiest blush.



BLUSH was originally published on Life & Art Magazine, 10/29/2015


Basilike Pappa


(Image: Pinterest)

Sweet Dreams sans Merci

Sweet dreams

Sweet dreams tread softly like lovers

of half-light, the passions breathe

fire – a new emotion

sweet dreams rising amethyst

before the bedroom mirror

honey wild starved lips

Sweet dreams – one more kiss

softly the passions breathe

your name, naked stream

fading sans merci

like lovers you’ll never know

sweet this is made of dreams


Sweet Dreams sans Merci is a found poem, made from:

  • Sweet Dreams &  Here Comes the Rain Again – Eurythmics
  • The Rupture & Face to Face – Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Three Imaginary Boys & Fire in Cairo – The Cure
  • The Cloths of Heaven – William Butler Yeats
  • La Belle Dame sans Merci – John Keats

(Image: Pinterest)

Marriage a la Mode

Nobody here makes love like this:

with curtains shut against a screaming sun,

minds undone,

fingers fierce or delicate of instance,

hearts unleashed.


Here the sink shines like the surface of virtue

and water boils at a hundred degrees Celcius.

Organic courtesies,

hand-picked apologies,

so much to say on the freshness of a lettuce.


Nobody here makes loves like this:

with skin and soul,

thorns and teeth.

Nobody speaks like a piece of fiction

or in a way that encourages addiction.


‘Isn’t it time we had kids?

They’ll modify our traits to perfection.

We’ll put their pictures on the mantelpiece

as proof of our legitimate completion.

All lovely people should have a couple of these.’


Passion is a moment televised,

then dismissed – another neutered wish.

It’s a liaison of legal nature,

a garden of suburban bliss.

Quelle surprise! Nobody here makes love like this.



MARRIAGE A LA MODE was first published on Rat’s Ass Review, Winter 2017 Issue, 10/12/2017

©️ Basilike Pappa 2017

Take my heart into deep water

You’d think it would be the fragrance of flowers, the symbolism of doves, or the euphoria of spice, but it was a grill restaurant that made me think of us this morning as I was waiting to cross the street. There was nothing special about it except for the hen that proudly posed as its emblem, presenting the world with a platter of roasted chicken. ‘Here is someone who would offer themselves to be eaten,’ I thought. And then I imagined myself being eaten by you. My body torn by your teeth, my blood dripping from your chin, streaming down the marble falls of your flesh.

Last night the air in my room had been heavy with the carnal scent of our new knowledge. You fell asleep in my bed. But sleep wouldn’t come to me; it stayed away from my clenched teeth. Behind my closed eyelids, tails and scales of ancient creatures stirred the sands. ‘If you give in, you will become like us: pictures in books no one reads, nightmares from times past.’

I stole out of bed and into the kitchen.

There I stood under the light of the range hood, nightdreaming of how we could wake up in the morning and share cups of coffee, and bits of talking, and a kiss before parting. Or you could wake up with fugitive eyes and I would put on a plastic smile. I would offer coffee. You would refuse and leave on some urgent nothing of your invention.

But you were in my room just then, your breath as deep as the sea. I sat at the foot of the bed and watched you sleep. You sighed and turned on your back, opening all your beauty to me. The smell of salty meadows rose from the center of your body. I slipped into bed next to you. Your arms closed around me the way water closes over the pebble that hits its surface. I became a pebble deep in water, self-contained, protected against every use that can be found for me, free to observe the rise and fall of life without taking part. Like a pebble deep in water, I slept.

And when the morning came, your eyes anchored on mine and I smiled a true smile. So elated was I, that I wanted you to go. Happiness is best enjoyed in loneliness.

But then, as I was waiting to cross the street, I saw the grill restaurant and thought I could end up like that chicken on the platter. It would be your doing – and my fault.

If I say ‘take my heart,’ you may do just that.


Basilike Pappa