Raina K. Puels

insert negative emotion here

i don’t make a habit of inviting strangers to my apartment for a first date.  // are we still strangers?  // we met on a curb & talked about aliens for twenty minutes & now you’re sitting on my floor… sorry i don’t have furniture yet, i just moved  // no worries, i’m cozy.  but you forgot the part where i asked for your number & you put it in my phone directly next to your name… // ooops, i love gin & tonics. // rad, i’m a bartender. // what else are you? // a recovering catholic school boy, the guy who stays up til 3am to finish the movie, a furtive poet.  what are you? // an aquarius. // what does that mean? // i’m a starchild from the future. // you look like it, all glittery & beautiful. // have you seen that video of the black kitten who rolled around in a post-glitter-bomb bathtub?  she looks just like my family’s four-pound, stone-deaf, nineteen-year-old cat that just went to kitty heaven // shit, man, i’m sorry.  // we’re at the age where our childhood pets are dying. // dude i feel that.  last week, my family’s dog wasn’t breathing right so my parents took her to the vet & found out she’d been living with a collapsed lung for the whole time we’ve had her… nine years & no one noticed.  we think it’s from when her previous owners beat her. // you’re gonna to make me cry. // do you want me to stop? // no. // when we brought her home from the shelter, she had cigarette burns on her back.  i tracked down her first family & egged their house & tp’d their trees.  motherfuckers. // do you always act on your anger? // not since my last girlfriend & i lived together & i punched a hole in our bathroom wall.  now i take walks when i think i’ll do or say something i’ll regret. // anger isn’t an emotion i know how to deal with other than hurting myself… i’m the fourth generation of women in my family to have an eating disorder. // tell me more. // i have a perfection complex where i try really hard to be exactly who i think someone wants me to be & when they get insert negative emotion here because of something i’ve done, i punish myself for not better molding into who i think they want me to be. // it’s seriously inspiring how well you know yourself. // i just graduated from therapy. // dude, congrats.  how’d that happen? // my therapist & i agreed my happiness isn’t transient, but rooted deep inside me.  also, i’m not starving myself anymore… hey, stranger, you’re really good at conversation. // when i see people on the street, they yell ‘endangered stranger’ not ‘stranger danger.’ // i don’t get it. // typically, i get a compliment & then i stop making sense.  i’ll keep my mouth shut. // how about you put your mouth on my mouth instead? // really?

my obeying

i learned the difference between a kink & a fetish at the museum of sex, somewhere between homosexual duck necrophilia & the first sex machines— bicycle-powered-pumping-dildos.

kink: ________ enhances arousal

fetish: no arousal without _________


in high school, i wrote poems addressed to a future lover: ‘the only man i’d let leash me.’


furtive poet & i walked through a strip of trendy shops, sidestepping moms with strollers & stately men with small dogs when i told him about my lust to be leashed.  he danced with his knees & pulled me close to him:

‘i’ll dominate you any you want, but only if you call me daddy.’ 

yahtzee!  we kissed until a rustling tree launched my gingko leaf soliloquy:

‘the ginkgos lining this block still have their golden fan-shaped leaves, but later in the fall, all their leaves will drop at the same time in eerie synchronicity!”

furtive poet jokes that every time we hang out i teach him a horticulture lesson (he’s not wrong). 

we passed a window display of leashes & collars.  the store was closed.

he said, ‘i’ll take care of it.’

& i knew he would.


once, a friend handed me a perfectly ripe peach for us to share, then fell into her phone.  when she emerged, i’d eaten three quarters of its delicious orange meat.  juice dripped in embarrassed rivulets down my chin; i’d fallen into flow.

flow—i read it on a list of 12 things happy people do differently.

8. increase flow experiences:  flow is when time stands still, when you’re so focused that you become one with the task—action & awareness merged.  you’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional, but completely engaged in the activity you’re doing with nothing distracting you or competing for your focus.


mom said i learned to run when i was three.   i bolted in the mall.  she lost sight of me & acquired a leash the next day.  think, small dog harness with adjustable straps,  trapped within a few feet.  no wonder i grew into kinky proclivities… childhood keys to the lockbox of adult sexuality is decidedly lacanian… others disagree.  i will say… the first sex i had was with a keyboard: chatroom-wet-spots blooming between thighs.  electronic appendage touch me there!  now, i love to sext, fingers slinging dirty things from on the train, the pet store line, my desk at work—turn-ons so painful i’ve considered touching my back to public bathroom floors, looking up & wondering has anyone come so high they stained the ceiling tiles?  i always aim high; ‘you get what you settle for,’ says mom.


i knew the answer, but i asked him anyway: ‘corduroy skin or muffin hands?’

furtive poet is a bartender, a musician, a sound technician, the son of a chef.

‘corduroy skin for the win.’

i was relieved; i didn’t want muffins inside of me—that’s asking for a yeast infection.  he brought up the issue of corduroy cock.  i shivered & imaged a skin condom, or so much coconut oil that i could maybe pretend his cock wasn’t corduroy, but even if his cock was corduroy, i’d find a way to worship it because he worships me; texts me his filthy poems when he knows i’m at work, washes my dishes, plans surprise rooftop dates, eats me out for hours, asks me to articulate the minutiae of my desires. i trust him to install me like a toy into our fantasies because my enjoyment is always at the forefront of his thoughts.  i know he’ll make our power-play as much about my pleasure as his pleasure.


‘get on the bed & touch yourself.’

i obeyed.

he blindfolded me, dragged a cold, thick chain across my stomach; i moved my hand off my clit in anticipation.

‘did i tell baby she could stop?’

‘no, daddy.’

he bit the insides of my thighs, yanked my hand away, teased me with the cold metal.

‘sit up & put your feet on the floor.’
‘yes, daddy.’

‘get on your hands & knees.’

i obeyed.

he looped a piece of leather around my neck & clicked metal into metal.

‘crawl.  slowly.’

knees & palms against hardwood, leather tugging at my throat, i forget about my stomach rolls, chest pimples, gnarly toenails, unbrushed hair, unread emails, unwashed dishes, molding peaches, dying plants, drying clothes, netflix shows—everything except his voice & my obeying.


Raina K. Puels is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Redivider. She leaves a trail of glitter, cat hair, and small purple objects everywhere she goes. She's published or forthcoming in Queen Mob's, Maudlin House, Occulum, (b)OINK, Sidereal, and The American Literary Review, and elsewhere. See her full list of pubs: rainakpuels.com. Tweet her: @rainakpuels. 

JD Thornton