Write About Love, or Love and Sex, or Sex and Love;
Including Love of Anything, or Love Lost, or etc...



The most important thing that Shakespeare taught me about human sexuality: none of us is as "unnatural" as we fear. - Jillian Keena


For centuries, the dirty side of Shakespeare has been an elephant in the literary room. Many critics not only distanced themselves from the sexuality in Shakespeare’s plays — they tried to distance Shakespeare himself from it! Early-twentieth-century poet laureate Robert Bridges cautioned: “Shakespeare should not be put into the hands of the young without the warning that the foolish things in his plays were written to please the foolish, the filthy for the filthy, and the brutal for the brutal.”

With due respect to Robert Bridges, Shakespeare’s “filthy” side is undeniable. Alongside his poetry, prose, and psychological insight are treats of another nature: “cunt” puns, anal sex references, dildo jokes, and more. So in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, here are five ways Shakespeare brought the joy and variety of the human sexual spectrum to life. Read more...

from 5 Things Shakespeare Taught Me About Sex, By Jillian Keenan


Warehouse in Madrid

Last night I woke from a dream. I realized she and I were each dreaming together in one dream. Imagine two flashlight beams overlapping - that was our dream. When I woke I saw her - still asleep on her pillow. What were we seeking in our mutual dream? I know we were working on a problem, an equation of parts: candles, the vanilla fragrance of ponderosa pine, poisons of internal combustion. We were dreaming our future together. When we first made love I imagined a clamor of beings above us, looking for a womb. Whereas last night we loved in an unpopulated place - a warehouse in Madrid or some uninhabited island off Newfoundland. Sometimes lovemaking is merely the need for fire - a stove to warm one's hands on before the dreamer sets off on her own solitary journey.

Bill Scheffel


Holly Prado



some hunters come to our fire to get warm after being in the hills all day. two men and two half-grown boys—the boys silent in their heavy jackets and shoes, standing on one foot then the other, while the men talk about how fine the full moon looks, just coming up over the mountain, our fire is autumn a scarecrow, a cave, birds flying. our corn and potatoes cook, deep in its coals. in the morning I gather rose hips—a bagful of them to make jam out of. each one comes off the branch with a tug, taking a little stem with it. I work in the sun, bending, a thorn now and then in my fingers, my hands sticky with orange from the hips that are soft and full. I put the bag next to me on the floor of the truck as we drive home, thinking of the fruit smell the pressure of my hands. we stop for gas and another truck parks there that has two deer in the back, dead, being taken to the city. each deer has a tag tied to one of its ears.



the inside of my mouth is raw and every bite of the apple stings, but the taste is clean, sour, and the air gets cooler as we drive out of the desert. the sky is full of clouds. it’s late afternoon, the time that I feel weakest. my energy settles back into my body and I want to think carefully, to hold my life as I held the small fish yesterday we put him back into the lake after taking the hook out of his mouth. he was cold and moved in my hand and I could feel the murder and was happy when I saw him under the water again, there’s a rainbow in the sky next to the sun, not an arc, but a cluster of pale red, orange, yellow, on to violet that is part of the clouds. I see that it’s an omen, something special, and I narrow my eyes until it becomes circles of brightness, all gold, and then a dark circle appears on my left. my death, looking at me without recognizing my shape. when I open my eyes the rainbow has moved higher and has thinned out to streaks of color. I feel suddenly sure of myself, as if I’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.







from Break It Down, by Lydia Davis

[ From Wikipedia: Davis has been described as "the master of a literary form largely of her own invention." The author Carmela Ciuraru has written of Davis' stories: "Anyone hung up on the conventional (and often predictable) beginning-middle-end narrative format may be disappointed by the wild peregrinations found here. Yet these stories are endearing and rich in their own way, and can be counted on without exception to offer the element of surprise."]

I get home from work and there is a message from him: that he is not coming, that he is busy. He will call again. I wait to hear from him, then at nine o’clock I go to where he lives, find his car, but he’s not home. I knock at his apartment door and then at all the garage doors, not knowing which garage door is his—no answer. I write a note, read it over, write a new note, and stick it in his door. At home I am restless, and all I can do, though I have a lot to do, since I’m going on a trip in the morning, is play the piano. I call again at ten—fortyfive and he’s home, he has been to the movies with his old girlfriend, and she’s still there. He says he’ll call back. I wait. Finally I sit down and write in my notebook that when he calls me either he will then come to me, or he will not and I will be angry, and so I will have either him or my own anger, and this might be all right, since anger is always a great comfort, as I found with my husband. And then I go on to write, in the third person and the past tense, that clearly she always needed to have a love even if it was a complicated love. He calls back before I have time to finish writing all this down. When he calls, it is a little after eleven—thirty. We argue until nearly twelve. Everything he says is a contradiction: for example, he says he did not want to see me because he wanted to work and even more because he wanted to be alone, but he has not worked and he has not been alone. There is no way I can get him to reconcile any of his contradictions, and when this conversation begins to sound too much like many I had with my husband I say goodbye and hang up. I finish writing down what I started to write down even though by now it no longer seems true that anger is any great comfort.

I call him back five minutes later to tell him that I am sorry about all this arguing, and that I love him, but there is no answer. I call again five minutes later, thinking he might have walked out to his garage and walked back, but again there is no answer. I think of driving to where he lives again and looking for his garage to see if he is in there working, because he keeps his desk there and his books and that is where he goes to read and write. I am in my nightgown, it is after twelve and I have to leave the next morning at five. Even so, I get dressed and drive the mile or so to his place. I am afraid that when I get there I will see other cars by his house that I did not see earlier and that one of them will belong to his old girlfriend. When I drive down the driveway I see two cars that weren’t there before, and one of them is parked as close as possible to his door, and I think that she is there. I walk around the small building to the back where his apartment is, and look in the window: the light is on, but I can’t see anything clearly because of the half-closed venetian blinds and the steam on the glass. But things inside the room are not the same as they were earlier in the evening, and before there was no steam. I open the outer screen door and knock. I wait. No answer. I let the screen door fall shut and I walk away to check the row of garages. Now the door opens behind me as I am walking away and he comes out. I can’t see him very well because it is dark in the narrow lane beside his door and he is wearing dark clothes and whatever light there is is behind him. He comes up to me and puts his arms around me without speaking, and I think he is not speaking not because he is feeling so much but because he is preparing what he will say. He lets go of me and walks around me and ahead of me out to where the cars are parked by the garage doors.

As we walk out there he says “Look,” and my name, and I am waiting for him to say that she is here and also that it’s all over between us. But he doesn’t, and I have the feeling he did intend to say something like that, at least say that she was here, and that he then thought better of it for some reason. Instead, he says that everything that went wrong tonight was his fault and he’s sorry. He stands with his back against a garage door and his face in the light and I stand in front of him with my back to the light. At one point he hugs me so suddenly that the fire of my cigarette crumbles against the garage door behind him. I know why we’re out here and not in his room, but I don’t ask him until everything is all right between us. Then he says, “She wasn’t here when I called you. She came back later.” He says the only reason she is there is that something is troubling her and he is the only one she can talk to about it. Then he says, “You don’t understand, do you?”


I try to figure it out.

So they went to the movies and then came back to his place and then I called and then she left and he called back and we argued and then I called back twice but he had gone out to get a beer (he says) and then I drove over and in the meantime he had returned from buying beer and she had also come back and she was in his room so we talked by the garage doors. But what is the truth? Could he and she both really have come back in that short interval between my last phone call and my arrival at his place? Or is the truth really that during his call to me she waited outside or in his garage or in her car and that he then brought her in again, and that when the phone rang with my second and third calls he let it ring without answering, because he was fed up with me and with arguing? Or is the truth that she did leave and did come back later but that he remained and let the phone ring without answering? Or did he perhaps bring her in and then go out for the beer while she waited there and listened to the phone ring? The last is the least likely. I don’t believe anyway that there was any trip out for beer.

The fact that he does not tell me the truth all the time makes me not sure of his truth at certain times, and then I work to figure out for myself if what he is telling me is the truth or not, and sometimes I can figure out that it’s not the truth and sometimes I don’t know and never know, and sometimes just because he says it to me over and over again I am convinced it is the truth because I don’t believe he would repeat a lie so often. Maybe the truth does not matter, but I want to know it if only so that I can come to some conclusions about such questions as: whether he is angry at me or not; if he is, then how angry; whether he still loves her or not; if he does, then how much; whether he loves me or not; how much; how capable he is of deceiving me in the act and after the act in the telling.



Back to the top.



When you are standing in the pulpit, you must sound as though you know what you’re talking about. When you’re writing, you’re trying to find out something which you don’t know. The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don’t want to know, what you don’t want to find out. But something forces you to anyway.

– James Baldwin


Interviewer: Was there anyone to guide you?

James Baldwin: I remember standing on a street corner with the black painter Beauford Delaney down in the Village, waiting for the light to change, and he pointed down and said, “Look.” I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, “Look again,” which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in the puddle. It was a great revelation to me. I can’t explain it. He taught me how to see, and how to trust what I saw. Painters have often taught writers how to see. And once you’ve had that experience, you see differently.


from Giovanni's Room
by James Baldwin

He looked at me with his mouth open and his dark eyes very big. It was as though he had just discovered that I was an expert on bedbugs. I laughed and grabbed his head as I had done God knows how many times before, when I was playing with him or when he had annoyed me. But this time when I touched him something happened in him and in me which made this touch different from any touch either of us had ever known. And he did not resist, as he usually did, but lay where I had pulled him, against my chest. And I realized that my heart was beating in an awful way and that Joey was trembling against me and the light in the room was very bright and hot. I started to move and to make some kind of joke but Joey mumbled something and I put my head down to hear. Joey raised his head as I lowered mine and we kissed, as it were, by accident. Then, for the first time in my life, I was really aware of another person's body, of another person's smell. We had our arms around each other. It was like holding in my hand some rare, exhausted, nearly doomed bird which I had miraculously happened to find. I was very frightened; I am sure he was frightened too, and we shut our eyes. To remember it so clearly, so painfully tonight tells me that I have never for an instant truly forgotten it. I feel in myself now a faint, a dreadful stirring of what so overwhelmingly stirred in me then, great thirsty heat, and trembling, and tenderness so painful I thought my heart would burst. But out of this astounding, intolerable pain came joy; we gave each other joy that night. It seemed, then, that a lifetime would not be long enough for me to act with Joey the act of love.