“When Even the Shadows Smile” © Bill Wolak


To the guide camp woman’s stomach:

If I had known then what it was to be touched like the spine of a book
          under your fingers

No firstly you must understand –

I just so desperately wanted them to sink their fangs into my flesh

To sit in the crawlspace of your scent, is to hand myself a mirror now

They were older than me in knowing, but equally the same school year

I am grown now but I still wish you could have pressed and bound me until I was part of that same unflinching dykeness, the same stubborn parallel you were stretching in, blunt force trauma of the conditioning never learnt.

They knew it too, uncurling their nails to release blood

Please find me now, directionless, I only know of you as older than me

Vampiric count of figs, she wins, I am short

Maybe this year, in a kind of pseudo religion, a cultish reckoning,

I will come sinking to my knees, braying to your centre and the hair that
          lived there

Consume each other, but cough out the right answer

My girls will know where to pluck.


Renée Eshel: “I am a queer Welsh poet fascinated by anything to do with the occult, the esoteric, the unusual and the macabre. I am to create writing focuses on the lines in between – girlhood, platonic affection, coming of age, the blurry phases of life that require I think require special attention.”

Bill Wolak is a poet, collage artist, and photographer who has just published his eighteenth book of poetry entitled All the Wind’s Unfinished Kisses with Ekstasis Editions. His collages and photographs have appeared recently in the 2020 International Festival of Erotic Arts (Chile), the 2020 Seattle Erotic Art Festival, the 2020 Dirty Show in Detroit, the 2021 Rochester Erotic Arts Festival, the 2018 Montreal Erotic Art Festival, and Naked in New Hope 2018. He was a featured artist in Best of Erotic Art (London, 2022).