what’s in yours?

What’s in your box of darkness?

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Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

18 thoughts on “what’s in yours?”

  1. This box of darkness was given to me:

    Tell them you're gay, or I will.

    My conscience won't let you stay

    unless you come clean to the leaders

    (your "spiritual authority")

    about your unchristian, unclean



    Instead, I left smiling. I left my career of crusading (ah, foreign travel for the purposes of converting new believers) knowing I was in the right, and she was in the wrong. Or was she? I might not have left the place. I wouldn't be as totally in love with myself as I am now.

  2. Sinclair says:

    a glass of orange

    juice he once threw

    in my face. a small

    jewelry box of shells

    she collected

    when on the coast

    of england. a machete

    from el salvador

    upon which she keeps

    a firm grip. a necklace

    with a wing that fell

    right into my hand.

    and grief,



  3. !spark! says:

    myths of inadequacy

    and powerlessness,

    the mother of darkness

    a blackhole of a box

    I unwrap that package

    glimpse the veil

    comprehend the machinations

    behind the curtain

    open my fear

    light spills inside

    the gift, a rebirth

    tempered by the fire

    I am stronger

  4. edith piaf says:

    a comb from his back pocket

    the baby alive doll

    an oak tree switch

    the print before ash

    the smell of her hair

    right after a shower

    knuckle bones

    1984 world's fair tokens

    bloody feathers

    a dried up man-o-war

    the poetry from that year and

    also those years too

    that clump of grass from my fist and

    dried mud from my nails and

    a bloody pair of panties and

    old spice cologne

    my heart because i forgot

    and ache

  5. em says:

    I married a man and I still love him, but I don't want to sleep with him because I am gay. I'm trusting in the gift, but I don't see it yet.

  6. muse says:

    in my box:

    a ring with a stone the color of the ocean from the ferry on the way to her parents house, where I learned some of the ways she would never love me. you could only see its true color in the sunshine, just like the color of her eyes. and platinum, a metal so pure it can replace bone. it was beautiful. I know I made it for myself.

    an ultimatum, a contract detailing the terms of the house arrest that would set me free. the cost: a decade, an angel, a family, and a friend.

    haunted feelings of guilt that I can't attribute to anything. my inability to believe I'm beautiful enough to be loved. the occasional impulse to destroy myself, because it must be easier than being brave all the time. the hope my heart will one day feel simply and trust wholly again. (you can get that back, right?)

  7. greg says:

    The feeling I get when I hate myself enough to wonder if I deserved it.

    The punishment I seek when I have been bad.

    My constant need to find an escape route.

    The defense tactic I plan when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

    The fear that I won't be able to save someone else from being forever changed.

    @ Muse – I truly believe that you can

  8. i gave it to myself. i guess it contains truths and untruths and fears, probably some hemingway. tears – and the music to cry them to. but that's speculation; i'm afraid to open it (it might be empty). the gift is the girl who helps me open it, and doesn't mind too much what leaks out.

  9. Lo says:

    All the time that I drank



    all the time that I spent in treatment and AA

    since then, nothing has really hurt

    (I don't think anything could)

    and that is wonderful

    perhaps I can take anything with a smile

    people think I'm an obnoxiously cheerful

    head in the clouds idealist

    and never have real problems

    the truth would frighten them

  10. Samantha says:

    The inability to let go of what needs to be let go.

  11. la petite says:

    The feelings too harsh to live amongst the light,

    The tears that fell onto my collar bone,

    The whispered lies they told me,

    The sparkling diamonds the world promised me,

    The glamor I've achieved by selling myself,

    And the path that is not yet complete…

    This is too much for one box to hold…so I help it out and carry it with me always.

  12. montglanechess says:

    that i can't tell anyone

    i am a sexual being

    i am not the good one

    nor am i Proserpine

    just me.

    and i like it.

  13. The day of my mother's funeral.

    Dirty looks from my mother's parents for my unending tears.

    My father being shoved out of the "immediate family only" room for mourning.

    My mother in a box.

    Falling to the ground with uncontrollable screams.

    The feeling of "this is the worst thing that will ever happen."

  14. Dana: I can feel your pain. Sending healing thoughts your way.

    And on an unrelated note, I think your crushes on The Divine Miss M and Helen Reddy are adorable.

  15. A black and pretty ring (that will probably never be worn), not in my size, with a single diamond.

    Words she spat at me and never recanted

    that I still hear echoing inside of my head.

    The look of fear. The look of disgust. The look of hatred. A key to a car I do not own nor drive.

    The smell of beer and the print of hands upon my neck.

    A string of beads attached to her belt.

    All of the 'never's and the 'not anymore's – except for two.

    A bottle of Jack Daniels. Empty.

    And a mirror, at the very bottom of the box, if I make it all the way through.

  16. Aerope says:


    The lid slides off

    I let you place only your fingers at its edge

    But not your eyes,

    Not yet

    What can you feel?

    Can you feel the grit of salt?

    All that is left

    from years of grieving?

    Can you feel absence?

    Does it feel cold, pale,


    or stinging, hard, and hot?

    I will let you reach into this box

    and find with your hands

    what I cannot yet let be seen

    In the bottom of this box

    is my heart.

    Aerope 2008 (c)

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