Bed Bugs & Boneless


When I was a child, my father would read me books like “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Giving Tree”, kiss me goodnight and then say, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” These bed mites were something I equated to Pandora’s box. Unseen and mythical, a lesson not to unlock what is clearly meant to remain closed, or to wash sheets and skin regularly or else invisible parasites will ravage the flesh.


Dear Bed Bugs,

It was around the time of January or Winter’s midsection, when I sat in my girlfriend’s apartment in Boulder, Colorado and saw you for the first time. Her and I sat beside each other, reading from Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, when you jumped out like a singular surprise party, but it was neither of our birthdays and there was absolutely no cake nor presents.

Her fast fingers caught you and shuddered at the thought of what you were. You had a red tinge, as though we were engaged in some form of flirtatious banter and your entire body was blushing. She grabbed a clear ziplock bag and placed you in it. Then, we went online, hoping we were wrong about your category.

We had a hunch. About a week earlier, her neighbor called Ron or Greg asked if she had noticed any bugs in her place. As she shook her head, I took in the sight of his arms, like the beginning stages of connect the dots: tiny red spots on white, white arms.

It seems there was an infiltration of bed bugs in her building, causing her to take an immediate detour from solo studio living to cohabitation with me in my tiny 500 square foot apartment.

We threw away her mattress, checked all her books, gathered sheets and clothes into a sealed plastic bag, left outside until we could wash everything under hot, hot water.

At that time, there were few products on the market to free us, so we researched all the ways to escape their infiltration. They were like my third girlfriend: unbearably resilient and could go without eating for days (though bed bugs could starve for up to 300).



Bed Bug, a derivative of Cimex lectularius, playing hide-n-go seek with humans’ blood, living inside mattresses or nooks of beds. Unwanted intruders insistent on being bedmates with their food. Often nocturnal, extremely sly.



Let’s take a detour from the trauma of their existence and talk about their sex lives, which is far more interesting, and a distraction from the fact that they use their mouths to saw through skin, in addition to their historical lineage dating back to ancient Greece as early as 400 BC!

How they mate is through traumatic insemination, which, oddly, is what I referenced my brief experimentation with sexuality, upon becoming a heterosexual.

The male punctures the female’s abdomen with his syringe-like penis and ejaculates inside her. After doing insignificant research, I saw no courting rituals, hand-holding, Netflix-watching while eating a home-cooked dinner, noteworthy listening skills insisting that kissing and above-the-shirt touching is enough. It seems male bed bugs just barge right in and their marathon sperm inseminates upon reaching their ovaries.

Good news is, the women get a break every so often because there are gay bed bugs too, as the males will impale other males’ abdomens as well.

But during the time of their invasion, it was difficult to see them as sexual beings. Every part of me itched at all times, mostly phantom itches, derived from the fear of my blood being stolen.

We later moved into a larger apartment, but I never forgot about them: silent predators of skin.


Bed bugs, noun, a bloodsucking bug which is a parasite of birds and mammals. But let’s take a detour from that restriction of speech and use them as an adjective.

  • My twenties were bed-bugged, a series of days where I felt myself getting sucked dry of life, energy, imagination, and desire.

Or how about as a verb?

  • X bed-bugged my heart, deflating it of pumped blood, leaving me lifeless and forever weary of ever being loved again.

Future band names:

  • Bed Bugs & Boneless LIVE at the Mercury Lounge
  • Bed Bug Boner   LIVE and acoustic showing at The Bottom Line

And my as-yet-unpublished memoir:

  • New Jersey & Bed Bugs, or Lifetime of Trauma off Exit 128


When I think about all the detours in my life, it is difficult not to think about bed bugs. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we should be using them as an alternative to the reality television show “Hoarders”, where strangers infiltrate/shame humans who have a difficult time letting things go. Maybe we just need to set off a smattering of these persistent parasitic insects through the vents. Then, people will be forced to let go of things in order to cleanse their home.

A detour from avoidance.

A detour from the cost of an over-priced house cleaning.

A reason to replace bed mattress, with stains of thirteen ex-lovers, and your brief stint as a bed-wetter and all those embarrassing yet ironically artful menstruation stains.

I want to believe that the pests which exist, flapping their wings or mouths beside us can have purpose beyond skin rashes, psychological stress and the inevitable fear of the world ending.

Of course, there are always those exceptions, the nuisances that just have no redeeming quality, which have no detour to bypass: mosquitoes, gentrification and of course, Donald J. Trump.


Dear Freud,

My habit is to feel everything. Can you analyze my constant need to walk out of windows and relationships. It may be difficult to find peace within the nudity of my gender. I’ve always sat up and I fumble with how to digest knees without suffocating blood stream. Intake. Sometimes I still think of that other Jennifer who I fell in love with, hidden behind so many scratches, she looked like a first draft college essay but she was beautiful but she is. And that mid-week wandering in New Jersey forest where we searched for drugs within the leaves of native trees but all we found was more oxygen. Some people purchase air because there is so much distrust in what we cannot see. Freud, before I can properly make love, I must sound out their bookshelf. I can be called upon to alphabetize and partition. Sometimes I still question my sexuality and then. Friday evenings, we decide if glass must be separate from reprocessed plastic. Freud, law states that we must cover up what rises and fumes on our bodies; yet, garbage must be placed against curbside in see-through bag. What are we emphasizing. Where do you hide your shame {behind zipper}. Would you prefer silence slept against the small of your back or a [red] woman. When was the last time you truly meant it.

But this music. This music has limbs that can hold me into morning.

So hold me into mourning/ hold me into mourning/ So hold me/ So into/ hold mourning/ So hold/ to mourning/ me in[to] mourning/ So me (in)to / mourning …

neglect the map or gust of origin.

“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” Aldous Huxley

I come from white walls white thighs white mother crust of malady and abandon.

I come from culdesac dead ended romance with calm and how to collect a thousand fireflies in just one summer with scoop of blond hand and curious wrists. Spell out help with the death of smeared illumination.

I come from guilt. Guilt of murdered lightening bugs. Guilt of murdered hair follicles through bleach and rusted scissor clip. Guilt of murdered childhood through the erasure of memory. Guilt of each kiss claimed by mouth without manners.

I come from New Jersey. Concrete and sod. Hangings and ambulance whispers. Suburban boredom collapsed into self-harm. That time that time that time that time that time that time that time that time that time. That time there was a need to gallop body into medicated bones and bruise away hatred of self.

I come from stages and poets dusted and banned. I come from Ginsberg and Plath and Kate Bornstein and Gertrude Stein and Bukwoski and Mapplethorpe and Serrano and Valerie Solanas and every teacher that tried to teach in a way that kept the windows open and doors unlocked.

I come from appetite and birth and love there was some love [once] and Brooklyn and boroughs and grass stains and hyper.

I come from shift and gender and clutter’d queer disrobing through each climb of love and affair.

I come from that place within the body that thieves. Call it basement. Call it butcher shop. Call it handsome. That’s where I derive.

a visit back to exit signs and U-turns

What is there to do here besides loot mother’s pill stash / cover limbs in preservatives and aluminum slashes / memorize the pattern of face expansion and bleach stains on adolescent scalp in framed photographs / watch television for less than ten minutes after realization there is no substance to these moving pictures / eat crackers coated in the aroma of childhood / look through cupboards and count the deer marching in backyard/ & / wonder what part of this exit still exists in you.


she makes love to the hysteria of inscriptions on sternum

stop me if you’ve heard the one about the gender neutral pronoun and the one who got away because that one did not prefer leashes like this one or the time the basement flood like her body on that Wednesday in August or when her lover threw fire against that pile of bones and what they wanted were ashes but all they were left with were doctor’s bills.

On exit 9, one may collect residences like sexually transmitted diseases: a starting place of hope leading toward infection and regret. On your right is the time she almost hung herself with view of geese and donated benches. To your far left, the school she ran away from.

She used to wear dresses; she still cuts her own hair; she is no longer a virgin; she still dreams of death; she has replaced Plath with Bukowksi; she still cheats and hijacks bodies; she hoards secrets and screams; she stopped telling them what her plans are.

What is there to do here besides transcribe the vital signs from one doorway to the next / feed limbs to the ghosts / memorize the way cracks and weight gain allow room for swallowed analyses / memorize mother for signs of openness / eat enough meat to bloat away the aroma of aged vegetarianism / look through self to search out what has changed, shifted, evolved, calmed down / & / wonder what part of this exit still exists.

a tale of two jennifers

Beneath a plastic wrapped swingset. On my bed in a basement in New Jersey. Tall and thick. Strong and thin. Shaved. With moustache. From Freehold. From the Bronx. One was heterosexual. One was newly queer. One is married now (perhaps). One transitioned (I wonder).

I tend to write about my first time but never the third time or the last time or the time that never happened or the time I still think about or the time that almost ruined me.

How have I evolved in this sex life and how many of them still think about me or our time together.

I have no idea where they are– even in this world of constant knowing of where everybody is and what they are eating– so I will guess or gather enough words to create a story in my head.

Two Jennifers– one almost after the other– plus the one I never got to because her lips preferred boys’. This particular Jennifer bared her back to me one day on route nine when we were feasting our flesh on needles and ink. Her boyfriend purchased her a fairy and I called myself a woman on my lower back with a circle and cross.

I loved her before I even knew what that meant because in those days queer existed in banned library books and in closets. There were no clubs, only bullies lurking in cafeterias.

Years later, I’d find her, briefly before she got lost again. Behind bars. Locked up.

The Jennifers led to a queue of others: women, some whose names I memorized, some of which I never needed to learn. The Jennifers led me to my first orgasm, experienced far later than I care to explain. The Jennifers introduced me to french kissing and fingering and fondling above and below clothing.

After the Jennifers, I found love several times. Each time growing bolder and thicker and LOUDER.

Sometimes I wish I could find both of them. Let them see me without the smoke and inebriation. We could write a poem together, share a meal. We can scratch each other’s bodies with hieroglyphics–translated into SOS signs. They may be surprised I stopped drugging and I may be surprised they both practice heterosexuality now.

There was that time. Neither of them were there, but the smell of their memory was. In that state I never thought I’d travel to. In a tent or on a mountain or maybe we were straddling a rented mattress or eating a burrito or perhaps reading Sexton or shivering melodies or burrowed in a sleeping bag or hiding out from agendas or letting go of gender roles in a sulphuric cave.

And everything I had learned from the Jennifers– and the ones who followed soon after– no longer mattered. Because bodies steeped in (real) love let go of choreography and you know it’s real when there is silence. No moans. No dirt speak. Just crickets or dog bark or toenail scratch against ankle or yelp from the good pain.

Maybe it’s best we lose track of people because memories cannot remain static if we are FACEBOOK friends, chronicling lives through stalked computer screens. I like remembering the Jennifers as how they first looked to me. Young. Because I was. New. Because everything then was. Real. Because even if I’m the only homo left, our bodies created music created lessons created history. Even if just for me.

an illuminated confession

I was old enough to understand that neon did not naturally grow inside me.

To find it firmly glowing inside something else, something real and buzzing, made me believe just a bit more in magic. Look up toward the lampyridae, or winged beetles, burning up the sky. I attract mates through poetry; they utilize their power of bioluminescence to search out their prey.

I might have been eleven or six. In a culdesac in central New Jersey, I squeezed my tiny fingers together between bits of air that glimmered. The fireflies flapped their wings, teasing me. Flirting? I wanted to know what it could be like to glow in the dark. I needed to know what it could be like to have a body that resembled a light bulb.

So I thought about swallowing. And I thought about asking it to lead me toward its village of gleamers. And I thought about creating graffiti on sidewalks with their oven-like glow.

When I caught one, I felt like everything inside me grew cleaner. It’s light could heal like bandages radiating light. My blood grew into newer cells. The future ghosts of my scars became permanently lost.

I should not have held on so long. They need to fly. They need to parade their inner moonlight. They need to remain alive.

But I was eleven or six and I didn’t quite understand death yet. Or I did but I was just so desperate to experience that glow as though it were my own.

Between my fingers, I squeezed it’s bottom half, as though it were a pen, and began to smear it against the sidewalk between my house and another’s. I felt no guilt—at that time—because I thought I was creating something beautiful. I needed something beautiful. I was turning the world outside my home into neon smudges. An SOS. A distraction. A well-lit reminder of what one can do with light.

Now I am thirty-seven or forty-nine or twenty-two. I use ink now. The only neon I squeeze from bodies is from my own. And it is red like old bricks, rather than green or yellow.

the first time I was afraid of my life was the first time I felt alive

It was awkward like the first day of school or trying to eat ribs without getting the sauce beneath my fingernails. While she pressed her mass on top of me, I counted the stars or were they airplanes. They flirted, blinking their silver lights.

Then she inserted her finger and I worried her nail polish might flake inside me, creating an infection or complicated aroma of varnish. Then a moan and was that mine.

August is the perfect month to lose one’s virginity because the night air is so dismissive to the sweat sweetly intoxicating fast-moving parts and although the mosquitoes tempted us with suggestions of an orgy, it was just us beneath plastic swing set held captive in her parent’s backyard. At first, I could only focus on the scent of Parliament cigarettes on her skin. It was too dark to create pictures connected by her freckles but I could feel them grind into me. Another finger and the mosquitoes have ignored our request for solitude and what if one bites me on my vagina.

She kisses me with a tongue that feels monstrous, but warm and tastes of what I imagine I must taste like and she doesn’t really want me to touch her and I worry she’s just pretending I’m her boyfriend or our boss who’s suits are always unhemmed and drag against the movie theatre tile. The moon is watching and it’s kind of like a giant nightlight guiding our limbs. Her fist is inside me and this is love, right? Is this love.

you are made to leave but never do

When does a root first arrive and what is its blood type.
Speak on the unfairness of graves and governmental restrictions.
Who does this earth really belong to.
What hasn’t been noticed yet.
There is no freedom from war.
Horses were replaced by rubber and aluminum.
Is your music religious.
Pasts get lost unless they are hooked to leashes.
Birds may be painted but not fingernails or walls.
I used to be a lightening bug but now I am a neon smudge against suburban sidewalk.

I am singing for the first time and I do not need to be trapped beneath layers of conditioner and green tea soap on my body in the bathtub. I am sewing the seams of ripped poems and savoring the sound of new language from this decade merge with my younger self. Maybe I don’t need that stage to tell you what I’m like. Want to gather up this mess? Bring a flare gun, some candles, a map of your favorite place to dream about, bring some tea, lemon cake and a blanket. I’ll supply the moon and my mouth.

that time.

There was that first encounter with a honeysuckle. Beyond my backyard in small suburban New Jersey. My appetite was choosier then, yet when she told me it was edible, I let my tongue extend through my parted lips, and dig at its yellow powder. I really wanted it to taste like honey like sweetness like strawberry pie interrupted with brown sugar. Instead, it was more like a subtle whisper of nothingness. She smiled at me with painted mouth, dyed from the golden dust. I wanted to kiss her then because that is what friends do. They kiss each other. They compare hip size and knock all their teeth together to create a thunderstorm of bruising. The only thing I kissed that day was the flower.

There was that time a severed tree pressed its anger into me. Lunch was on its way toward completion on deserted patch of earth where water grew nearby. I tripped into its splintered curve and felt my blood awaken and pour out. There was that woman who rescued my fear of injury; she taught me about fascia. Held me as I limped. There is something about having skin tear that makes you want to marry another.

come out…come out…wherever you are

I am nineteen.

We arrive at Hunan Gourmet on route 9 in Manalapan, New Jersey.

(We = my mom, dad, and I)

This is it, I think. I’m going to tell them. They are going to be shocked. Maybe I should wait until after we finish our soups. Dad and I will get wonton and Mom will get hot and sour.

Or, should I do it right after we order? While we fill our impatient mouths with crispy noodles dipped in hot mustard or duck sauce.

Maybe I’ll just wait until we’ve finished. After the last broccoli is taken from the large, decoratively garnished plate of chicken with broccoli. We’ll still be drinking our tea.

Maybe we will get ice-cream. My dad and I will get pistachio and my mom will get chocolate.

Did I mention it is my birthday?

I cannot tell you what I was wearing besides several layers of sweat and anxiety and nausea and….well….excitement.

People ask: When did you know? I never wrote it in my diary. I didn’t see a gay character on television who reminded me of me. There were no openly gay characters.

So, I don’t know when I first knew. But I know that when I knew…..when I learned the language for what I was/what I am….it was like I put a giant pair of glasses on my life and suddenly everything was in focus; everything made sense.

I met someone, I say.

Someone? says my mom.

At the movie theatre (where I worked at the time), I answer.

What is their name? asked my dad.

And for the next ten or two or twenty minutes, we played the awkward game of pronoun indifference.

Finally, I said: Her name is ………..

There were no noodles flying.
No soup flung from spoon toward face, scalding my skin, sending me to hospital.
The reaction was…well, there was no reaction.

Later, I learn that my parents knew. Or suspected. They were just waiting for me to come out. So, here I was coming out. I’m out. I’m out!!!!

My dad has said: Aimee, I don’t care who you date. If they are male, female, brown, purple, spotted, striped….as long as they treat you with respect.

My dad.

Maybe I always knew I was gay.
It’s hard to honestly say.
All I know is: it’s definitely not a choice; it’s within.

I’d like to call that my coming out story, but the truth is, I often have to come out daily. Or maybe weekly.

What does gay look like?
I only ask because sometimes people tell me I don’t look like

Sometimes, I’d just like to wear a shirt that says: queer.
It is what I am. It is what I feel. It is how I identify.

However, I have an aversion to labels.
Hairstyles have no connection to my sexual orientation.
The way I dress can only be described as awkward, maybe colorful and quirky, but my clothing has no sexual orientation.
I’m not just one way in bed. I’m multi-faceted.
I don’t feel like
one gender. I’m a mess of everything.