Horse Lover

Cat Ingrid Leeches


Horse Lover

Cat Ingrid Leeches

I fell in love w/ a Carnivorous Horse.   


I had no tongue.


I cannot remember if I lost it before or after I met her. The stitches never melted away, and I felt them digging into surrounding soft tissue. At night, they would even begin to chew.

Now you will understand, nothing surprises me.


On our third date, the horse devoured a breast of mine (a beast of mine).

When I didn’t moan in pleasure my horse’s teeth became inflamed w/ wine & fruit. She latched onto the inside of my thighs w/ a proboscis

drank any sustenance I had left.


There was no milk for my children.


I mashed up pieces of my own flesh to feed them. “meat, meat, meat, meat,” the lil sociopath’s chanted. It made me sick and to this day, I don’t know if they’re alive or dead. What I mean is: I’ve never found their remains. There were so many nights where I dreamed, yes dreamed, with my eyes wide open,

the Carnivorous Horse licking their skulls clean.



I never knew what made me different than the men, women, and children she devoured. I spent my nights inside her mouth. Once I found an eye stuck b/t her teeth- the pupil’s mouth gaping. I stored it underneath my remaining breast, until it began to stink, and the Carnivorous Horse fished it out w/ her tongue. I shivered in pleasure.



At night, I soaked my hair in a concoction of bird’s milk and honey, and she would watch with what must have been adoration, as I slowly plaited it into a single braid. She liked when I used the ends of my hair to tickle her lips & the soft skin around her nostrils. I could forget- at least for a time- that she was the Carnivorous Horse, who trampled entire villages (including all I had ever known) beneath her hooves. We were merely lovers. 



Why are you called the Carnivorous Horse?

I couldn’t ask of course,                         I had no tongue,            but my whole body screamed the question.

“After I ate my father,” the Carnivorous Horse said.  “I was known as the patricidal horse, until I ate the next year’s homecoming queen. I got blood on my sea foam colored suit, then the title Carnivorous Horse fit best.”

Soon after, in the hours of the early morning, I swear I could hear crying coming from the pit of my lover’s belly, and I wondered if those were horse’s tears. Yet, I had my doubts:

a) I had never heard my Carnivorous Horse cry, nor had she ever shed a single tear in my presence.

b) I had never seen any horses cry, either in movies or in real life. They were unbelievably stoic creatures.


How does one eat a homecoming queen anyway?

Did my horse lover leap onto the stage, as the queen was being crowned, and devour her – tiara and all?

Or did she wait until the homecoming queen snuck into the bathroom to surreptitiously drink from a flask?

….were they lovers?



One night, I tied my braid around one of the Carnivorous Horse’s thirty-six incisors, and tickled her throat until she was compelled to swallow me.

I landed on a homecoming queen, I could tell by the neon-blue mascara staining the hair under her eyes. 

“I’ve been listening to your god-awful moaning for years,” she said.

“What did she see in you?”

I couldn’t say anything. I had no tongue.

“Will you at least help me fix my dress. My mother sewed it for me. A herculean effort as you can see.” She clacked her hooves together.

The dress was embroidered with pearls and shells I had never seen before.  Even in this low light, it mimicked water & algae rising to my ankles, then swirling to my hips. It would not be long before I was completely submerged. I plucked out strands of my hair to use as thread, and one by one my rope, and life, unraveled.




We had centuries to get to know each other in the stomach of the Carnivorous Horse.

The homecoming queen tried to fashion me a tongue, even chewing off the tip of her own. But it was a useless contraption that felt awkward in my mouth.

I fixed her makeup. She clipped off some of her eyelashes to weave into my own.

My hair grew back, thicker than ever, and stretched through the membranes of the Carnivorous Horse’s internal organs & the pores of her skin. One day her body cracked open, she had been reduced to a dehydrated husk, long ago strangled by my hair. We climbed out into a new world w/o horses or humans.



The homecoming queen and I are growing old together (we are already old, but older still). We are not lovers, just friends, and every night we crown each other homecoming queens of the universe.


Cat Ingrid Leeches lives and writes in Alabama w/ a cat named Dirtbike. She has work forthcoming or published in The Collagist, Fugue, and Passages North. 

To Have a Body

Laura Paul

To Have a Body

Laura Paul

First, you have to figure out where the hand goes. The hand ends the arm, hangs straight or limp sometimes. It rises and falls with action, can be good for gripping, is associated with touch, although all parts of the body are capable of such feeling. Mostly.

Secondly, make sure your spine rises straight. It will not be a straight straight, but rather a curved straight, a back and forth, rebalancing, undulating and stacked, including spaces, fluid, cartilage, what else? This is where the stability holds. It is strong because it is not linear. You can stand and walk because of the way it waves front and back through the body.

Where it ends is so interesting, although, it also rises up into the throat and ends in the head. It ends in two places; it also begins in two places. It has two beginnings and no ends; it has two ends and no beginnings. Also, vertebrae vary in size depending on their location in the body. The place where the spine meets the legs is very helpful, where it pulls deep into the back of the pelvis. We are so lucky for the pelvis. The pelvis looks a bit like a bird, with its wings, does it not? It is a miracle we can walk at all. The pelvis holds all, it is all, it contains nothing, but circles round the source of life. That is where birth happens. The pelvis—its sensations, its balance, its roundness, its wings. The pelvis, its sensations, its balance, its roundness, its wings.

Not all bodies are the same. Some pelvises are slight and cracked and dry, some may say they hold no pleasure at all. Fish and snake do not have a pelvis, but turtles do. Although the turtle looks to be made of bone, at least from the outside of its darkened stone home from which it is intrinsically connected.

Inside of touch, inside of sensation. We call it three dimensions, we guess at many more. When you rise a hand, feel down a spine, beginning at the pelvis, you may end at the neck, or, you may end at the pelvis. When the neck is touched, it is by the shoulder. You can touch the back of the head—it may trigger the pelvis. Or, you may rock the pelvis, side to side, and shake the head.

What I sense is power in the body. It feels like the lightning crack, it feels like the cumulus gathering force. Some call it life force, prana, chi. The reckless believe it all comes from the stomach, from food, or from some other force that is not mysterious at all. But we know it to come from some other source, a source that gathers inside; it also gathers around. It permeates the body, this force. Because it gathers both inside and out, and through, it seems as though this force recognizes no body, perhaps we are just bodies dropped, formed in a field of force. But where does the time go? The body appears, emerged from the body, but never disappears. It is always created, never destroyed. The force never withers, it never dims. It merely gathers, then moves on, then gathers, then moves on. There is always a storm somewhere.

We are body technology. We sleep and we cry. We share these forms with others, some who have no bodies at all. It is not our bodies that make us special, it is our force. It is the same force from which we dream. When we sleep, we dream. We are paralyzed, we close our eyes, illuminated by the fields of amorphous gods all around. Sometimes we die, other times we metabolize. Always transforming into something else. That is what it is, to have a body. Hands raised, or no hands at all.

Laura Paul is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Brooklyn Rail and Entropy, and featured at the West Hollywood Book Fair and Los Angeles Zine Fair. She is currently querying agents for her first novel, BLK MTN. Connect with her @laura_n_paul on Twitter and Instagram.

A Survivalist Makes Plans Before the End of the World

Alicia Bones

A Survivalist Makes Plans Before the End of the World

Alicia Bones

The Angel of the Apocalypse lifted his hand toward heaven, saying, “There shall be time no longer.” But I never liked trumpet fanfares, did you?


First things to bury underground:

  • Eyeglasses.
  •  Water Filter. (I’m jealous of it, so singular in its purpose).
  • Old sad sack, maybe your father.

After the world ends, will we still be what we are now: suburban, elemental, inessential?   


Who’s going to be there:


            The Quartet for the End of Time:

  • Henri Akoka, clarinet
  • Jean Le Boulaire, violin
  • Etienne Pasquier, cello
  • Olivier Messiaen, piano



A forever friend: vinyl-headed, realistically soft-bodied, safety-tested and hand-washable, eleven inches.                      


            Me, but I worry because sometimes I get so lonely that I want to buy a goldfish, name it after my dad.


Where we’ll live:

(The first stupidity is living where it gets cold and stays cold. Why risk it?)

(?) Stalag VIIIA, Görlitz, Germany.

(?) Maybe the island of Tristan da Cunha.

(?) Maybe northern coastal California because the temperature is consistent. It’s a good place for agriculture. You’re on the coast so you have access to seafood. And I think that’s it. It might be a good place to start over again, maybe.

(?) The Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee.


Other things to bury underground:

  • Barnett Wildcat C-5 Crossbow Package.
  • Mother’s meatloaf or Mother.
  • All-Season Tent.

Seriously, can anyone and I mean anyone explain how the Bible is going to save my life?


Our post-apocalyptic objectives:

(1) Be both at the same time: ludicrous, serious.

(2) Be all at the same time: free from want, unclean, possessionless.

(3) Be none of the following: unkind, unsympathetic.

(4): Be all of the following: aggressive, competent, forgiving, pliable.


But enough about me. Tell me about you. Someone said you developed agoraphobia when you started to live seriously, but I suspect you’d make a fine space blanket, even more accommodating than you are now (Don’t blush—you deserve it!). But what do I know? I’m compassless and capable of limited first aid (only bandages, antiseptic, Vitamin C). You could do better than me. After the gentlest apocalypse, the world will be full of zombies. Ask yourself, who do you want to be?

Alicia Bones finished her MFA at the University of Montana in 2016. Her work has been published in Fairy Tale ReviewQueen Mob's TeahouseNecessary FictionEntropyQu, and Maudlin House, among others. She lives and teaches in Washington state.


Alicia Bones


Alicia Bones


They said they wouldn’t come for her in the hills. But it wasn’t long after she’d immobilized in the lake there before a hoard, peckers out, came splish-splashing in ankle deep; they heard she believed in free love.




She headed to the mountains. But even there, an old woman scolded her about carousing in the bushes and eating from the beehives and stealing from the mountain’s healing powers. And no matter how many claws she showed the old woman, she could never convince her the bear was the culprit she was looking for. The bear, old woman, she said, the bear. No, that old woman didn’t believe in God.




She climbed higher into the mountains until she found a spot. Dug underground, she laminated her sweated back to the dirt. Eventually, she developed tunnel vision. Eventually, she breathed only twice a minute. But when she was as close to thingness as she’d ever been, she looked, and there it was: the sky.




She hasn’t yet succeeded, but she isn’t defeated. Could she make a mask to move through space inhabited by the person the mask resembles? Could she eat only scraps fallen from someone else’s table? As a last resort, she’s heard the air is full of ghosts. She knows now she’s not afraid to be a (no)thing. In fact, it’s the only dream she’s ever had.



Alicia Bones finished her MFA at the University of Montana in 2016. Her work has been published in Fairy Tale ReviewQueen Mob's TeahouseNecessary FictionEntropyQu, and Maudlin House, among others. She lives and teaches in Washington state.

A Note from the Editors

A Note from the Editors

It has been both the longest and shortest year, but as we stumble out of 2017 Shirley Magazine has one more issue to share. Each of the stories in this issue remind us we have a body in space, and carves out a little hole in time to sit with it. 

We hope you’re looking forward to good things in the coming new year, and thank you for sharing your stories, your attention, and your time.