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Yeah, Write Entry #234- Beholder and Scrivener

Beholder and Scrivener


Shannon Barber

I am 4391 days sober and I see everything. I remember.

I am a Beholder and I met another one in my art class. We were drawing a male nude model and I saw his eyes slide as my eyes slid to watch the huge shadow creep across the corner of the room. We watched it, then watched each other and we knew.

A Beholder’s job is as it sounds. We do not enter The World we simply see it. When the shadows walk in the world, when the Sisters cross to eat the delicacy of men of the world, when the flame eyed Sidus peek out from their hiding places, we know and we see. Unlike Warriors, being a Beholder does not run in the blood. We have no ancestors to put iron in our spines or spells on our lips. Most of us die very young.

It is not explicitly the seeing that kills us. Many of us become drug addicts, opiates usually. Or we become alcoholics, we are frequently the homeless who walk all night with our eyes wide open and seeing. To be a Beholder is to be the eyes into The World and the keepers of its secrets. We know what lives in The Darkness.

After class while we were supposed to be packing up and socializing he came over to my easel and looked at my drawing while he spoke.

“You are a Beholder.”

I looked at his face, I wasn’t sure if I should say anything. We are mainly secretive, you can’t just walk up to people and start talking about The World without being marked as crazy. He looked down at me and I saw his light brown eyes, haunted eyes just like mine,


We stood there for a minute and he took my hand. He squeezed it lightly.

“You’re so young. What happened?”

The class was part of outpatient rehab. Court ordered of course.

“Smack. Since I was fifteen. I got picked up after taking a hot shot over on seventh. You know the spot?”

He nodded.

“Yeah. I could never get on with smack. First, it was booze, then it was benzos. I’m glad you made it. How are you doing?”

He let go of my hand and helped me put away my charcoals and while I thought about it, we walked to his station and packed his things.

“Okay, I guess. I remember everything. Before, like even before the junk I remembered everything. All of them. Would you like to have a coffee with me?”

Reggie and I started having coffee two or three times a week. We went to NA meetings together and people smiled at him for being my sponsor, that always made me laugh because they were so innocent. All of those long time junkies swilling shitty coffee and telling their stories, collecting their chips and falling off of the wagon were so innocent.

We talked in depth about our lives. He did not remember like I did. He had impressions, he beheld, and forgot. He explained that it was that way for most of us. He had a few precious books that were who knows how old, books that to the world were the rumblings of madmen and to me are holy books.

I learned that I am not just a Beholder. I am a Scrivener. It is not just my job to see, to behold, but my job to record it all. Reggie explained that when it became known in The World that a Scrivener had been born, the Warriors would come to me for guidance.

I held Reggie’s hands as he lay dying in a hospice. His liver a ruin, his face yellow and so thin I could see everything. I did what he told me. I drew what I saw, all of it.

The day he died, he smiled up at me and then we watched the shadows gather in the corner of his room to say goodbye.

“Stay clean. Remember. I’m going home to The World. I love you.”

By the time I could say I love you too, Reggie was gone and it was time for the work to begin.

Today I am 4391 days sober and I see everything. I remember.



Stuff I like

So hey my homies.

I’m coming down from an epic migraine and I wanna show y’all some stuff I like. Tomorrow I’ll post some craft nerd stuff about my Billy Remixes and ways to use a small prompt to explore some things.

The first thing I’m super into. The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo. They are just..fuck they are everything I love about solidarity and some bad assness. Check out their website, follow them on tweeter and decolonize your mind.

Next up, my friend Anna March is doing some awesome mixtape things at The Rumpus. The first one “FOR WHITE FOLKS WHO THINK THEY AREN’T RACIST” is pretty damn good.

And Daniel José Older on Prose and Music at Electric Lit is well just go read it.

While we’re checking out men of color I like a lot, Mensah DeMary has this piece on Catapult and I love it. Read it.

If you can afford it and can get there, Lidia Yuknovitch is doing some workshops that I’ve heard good things about. Go check it out.

One of my favorite online used bookstores is having a great coupon. Go to Thriftbooks and enter LITFIC for This coupon is good for 15% off books in our Literature & Fiction category (except Thrift Deals.) This is an awesome deal. They have great prices AND free US shipping over 10$.

Look what I got from them just last week:


Wanna read some fiction? Head over here and check out Laura Lucas. No for real if you want to check out how Yeah, Write Microfiction is done, go to the blog tab and behold. Awesome.

Who else am I super into? Dark Matter Poetry. I just..y’all I can’t. I have the worst of literary crushes on them and can’t stop. Go check them out and love them like I do.

Want to see more Yeah, Write? Check out my friend Rowan. GO tell Rowan I sent you.

While I’m talking about folks I love terribly. Motherblazing has a brand spankin new and shiny website. My publisher made something really good looking, so go here and check it out. AND while you’re there sign up for our mailings lists. We won’t spam you but will send some love letters and stuff.

Next, go read this by my friend Wagatwe Wanjuki over at Upworthy. No for real real go forth and read it.

Read this article on gender. Yes, please read it.

Over at Buzzfeed a favorite artist of mine, Mykki Blanco talks about hip hop, coming out and all sorts of goodness.

This poem How To Make Love to a Trans Person  has not left my head lately. Enjoy it here.

Follow my homie Ki Russell over on the amazons. I know it seems weird, but liking author pages is totally a thing. So do it.

Wanna read some kickass writing about women in butchery? Content warning for cut up pigs. This is a great piece by my friend Sarah Grey .

Just read this poem by Dana Koster. Just..ugh yes.

More Yeah, Write homies and some generally good writing follow Seraphina Maria.

AND go follow my homie Sara Habein. Say hi Shannon sent you.

Um nerds…fantasy LOTR type nerds. Hold on to your drawers and check this cookbook out by my friend Chris-Rachael Oseland. An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. UM FUCK TO THE YES. No I’m serious holy shit that’s fucking awesome. Elvenses anyone? Second breakfast? FOOL OF A TOOK…ahem. Sorry. Nerded kinda hard.

A few more. It’s been too long since I’ve shared my reading with y’all that wasn’t books or a book review.

Read this piece on MFA’s and POC over at The Offing. It’s just it’s important. Read it.

Tomorrow starting at 7 PM MDT to celebrate the first issue of WITCH CRAFT MAG they are doing this awesome internet reading event thing. I’m stoked AND you can see my fave Milcah read too. Check it out on facebooks.

GO read and/or listen to this story on Lightspeed it’s fucking amazing. Also it is hosted this time by Mur Lafferty whom I find delightful.

Now how about a lil self promo?

Free stuff first okay?

Join my email list. It is Self Care Like A Boss related and full of love. My love for y’all.  I promise zero spams.

If you are in Seattle come see me read on Saturday. Imma be spitting some fire. Because I am pissed off and poetry is my current method of not punching people. Gallery 1412 18th Ave, Seattle, WA at 7 PM Oct 3.

AND you can head over to the side bar and buy SCLAB, or you can check out the few things I have up at Etsy right now. Or if you are a commitment type, come check me out on Patreon.

Now there is a good number of you and I invite you if you have stuff to promote, drop links in the comments. SHARE WITH THE CLASS.

Tomorrow, something new for Yeah, Write since I’m done with Billy remixes….for now.

Now go forth and read some awesome stuff.

They always come calling. Soft teen girls nervous and giggling. Trying to be hard boys drunk and full of bravado. In the end, they are really all the same. Hot bags of blood and emotions that wake me from sleep to rattle my chains and deliver nonsense messages to the other realm.

I loved them once. I knocked and bumped and moaned when they chanted.

“Billy. Billy, are you here? Can you make your presence known?”

I don’t even know if my name was Billy but, they always seem to like it. So I answer. I whisper in their ears and blow graven breath on their sweet necks.

Now they bring hot lights and ridiculous men stomping around being skeptical.

“Come on Billy. Scare us. What, you only like to scare little girls?”

One dumb girl calls and wets herself and I am the villain. She demanded in her loud, shrill voice that I touch her. That I show myself to her because she did not believe..

Yes, I showed her.

I bit and howled. I loomed as a shadow bigger and darker than the night. I was proud, it’s hard to do and she messed herself and ran out screaming with her drunken friends.

Now here I am.

When the tough guys with their lights and camera are here.

They scream for evil Billy. They dare me to hurt them.


I will show them bad Billy.

I am Billy.

I will be Billy.

When the loud man starts challenging me to touch him, to make myself known I get ready. I devour the batteries in their bright lights and gadgets, then I run just a bit of myself right up the cleft of his bottom. At first he only stood very still and then he shrieked.

Oh, did he shriek.

He jumped like the cats I play with sometimes and ran shrieking and clutching his cold violated bottom. The energy rippled from his fleeing self through his friends and into me.

I gathered myself and stood at the end of the only open hallway, I am huge and blacker than the blackness. My voice is real and so loud the man with the headphones on drops to his knees in pain.

“I am Billy. I am here. Leave me alone.”

 They run away and my place gets dark and quiet. The rats and cats and other little creatures come back over time.

I don’t know who I was.

Now, I’m Billy.

Big Bad Billy.


Some more how I work questions answered.

More questions. The same person asking and they really want to stay anonymous so I might get a bit vague.

One of the things this person and I have talked about is my less than stellar experience with writing groups and other writer spaces, both in meat space and on the internets.

Frankly, my experiences with writer spaces haven’t been great, honestly. My first experiences were so overwhelmingly White and cis male I did not feel comfortable sharing any of my work for the most part. And for a few years had an issue with men “finding out” that I wrote erotica and harassing me.

Later on, as I started to think more about my own identity as a human, and what I was writing and how, as I got to read more critically in terms of sexuality and the political I found a lot of writer spaces were just not for me.

I remember pointing out the inherent sexism in a story I read on a writer’s list, it was honestly coming from a deeply misogynistic place and I will say that I was fairly gentleish about it and after that, the man who wrote it was fairly short/had an attitude with me.

In meat space things haven’t been a whole lot better.

I was invited once to a meat space writing group for ladies. I went and immediately things were just not awesome for me. Things were okay for about ten minutes until I read my piece and it was kinda crickets and a lot of uncomfortable shifting. If I remember right, it was some of my first tries at crime fiction and it was just a terrible fit.

Then in modern times I was a member of that big infamous container full of women.

It was fucking awful.

My experiences there and the things said to me were the epitome of #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It was so incredibly awful that I rage quit and then cried about it because it could have been a great source of solidarity and resources and whatnot, but the racism from the color blind, to the level of swinging privilege like a bat and having women playing pinata with every WOC there was just too much. I felt so deeply disrespected by those women, I couldn’t hack it.

So honestly, I think I’ve just been burned too many times.

I think that my exposure ruined me for a lot of that experience. So I learned to write without it.

That said, from what I hear the right workshop can do wonders for folks.

For me I’ve really changed how I work in general and most of the time it doesn’t mesh well with a formalized workshop/writing group generally speaking.

That said, I study writing.

I read a lot of great books. I follow authors I’m really into on social media. I work on it. I play with it. I use things like prompts, and interview questions etc as ways to try new things and stretch my voice.

It’s why I love doing Yeah, Write so much.

So to answer the other question this person asked, no you don’t have to do shit.

The only thing you have to do as an artist is figure out what works for you.

Also in terms of access, those of us who are poor and working and have families blablabla, like we can’t always spend 485$ to learn how to submit or learn how to write a story or whatever. For folks who can, don’t stop get it get it.

A lot of us can’t and that information is out there.

What’s most important to my own growth as an author is that I learn how to express what I mean to express however I can. Be it poems, non fiction, whatever. For me that is super gratifying and having an audience is like having the tastiest most awesome you wouldn’t scrape it off frosting.

Work that shit out and write like a mother fucker.

I mean I’ve not done the conventional thing. And I’m very happy with where I’m at right now.

I mean look I have a book coming out from a brand new indie publisher who is my fucking dream.

OH shit that reminds me.

This is our shirts for SCLAB. We’re doing ONE more week of these then different stuff later.

But here’s the thing. No I’m not as famous as Roxane or a bunch of other WOC writers I admire.

But I’m doing this shit the way I need and want to and that is amazing.

So my friend, write like a mother fucker.

Work out what works.

Do the damn thing.

Tomorrow another Billy remix for yeah write.


Yeah Write #222 Entry Mother Fuckin Billy- The Weeping Billy Remix

Mother Fuckin Billy- The Weeping Billy Remix


Shannon Barber


My answer comes from under water. The air is still thick in my throat and I don’t want to let it out.


Answering feels like giving something important up. Like a broken moment. I want to suck it back in.

“You done?”

Panic, my stomach drops and there are tears coursing hot and too honest down my face. I can’t be done- I want too much.

I need more.

The thick air I coveted a moment ago is standing between me and what I need.


I sound like a little dog barking at nothing.

“Oh really? Demanding little slut aren’t we?”

I hold my breath. Do I beg now? Do I let the sobs I keep buried in my belly go?


Funny- neither the cane nor the paddle, the whip nor the needle, not even the knives make me cry. But this utterance tinged with impatience and dry know it all arrogance undo me. To most the other tops I’m Billy the Motherfucker that can take it.

“Please, please, please.”

My sobs roll up from my belly like an orgasm. The thick air bursts out of me until my hoarse begging pounds the walls of the playroom.

“Poor needy Billy.”

I cry harder. My words dissolve into nothing but sobs.

It’s true.

I’m poor, needy Billy.

Right now, I’m not mother fucking Billy with the iron hide.

I’m Poor Weeping Mother fucking Billy.

Poor Billy.

Poor Billy.


PS I reused my Billy prompt. I will probably do it again.

Yeah Write #221 entry. Mother Fuckin’ Billy


Mother Fuckin’ Billy

by Shannon Barber

The tattoo on the side of her neck reads just “Billy” in floral looking script, there are other tattoos I can see dotting her smooth brown skin.  She has a regal profile, aquiline nose, and a jagged pale beige scar that zigzags from her earlobe up through her eyebrow.

God damn it.

I see her cut her eyes at me, then turn her head. Her eyes narrow and she tilts her head up just slightly and I see a dahlia tattooed on the front of her neck. She runs a hand through her silver brush cut and that’s it.

Fuck me.

I pick up my beer and walk over. I sit and we look at each other for a long minute before she speaks.

“What you want Negra?”

I can tell by her inflection she isn’t being a bitch so I smile.

“Who’s Billy?”

Her scarred eyebrow lifts.


Maybe it’s the rye whiskey that makes me think it’s okay, I reach out and stroke the tattoo on her neck with a fingertip.

“Billy. Who’s Billy?”

The way she licks her lips and the corner of her mouth jerks when I touch her makes me smile.

“Billy. Billy is an ex.”

“Like an ex-ex or an ex you still fucks with?”

She leans over, her lips close to my ear.

“The kind that nobody will ever find. He cut me once. Never again.”

I move my body closer to her heat, I turn my face so was almost nose to nose. She holds my gaze while I dip into my cleavage with two fingers and pull out my old pearl handled straight razor. She doesn’t even flinch when I slide it open and touch my lip with it.

“Good. Cause I would cut a mother fucker named Billy. I hate competition.”

The rest of the room is gone. Her breath fogs my blade and her smile flashes a silver tooth at me.

“You wave that around like you’re gonna use it. Don’t make promises your ass can’t cash Negra.”

I turn away and shotgun the last of my drink before I put my blade away.

“Finish your drink and don’t start talking shit. You remember what happened last time.”

Last time was five years ago and she had walked away with the impression of my teeth in the meat of her left butt cheek. We both stand and she grabs my hips and pulls me in tight to her body. She’s softer than I remember,  less hard won muscle and more cushion atop brute strength.

She kisses me so lightly and gently my knees almost give out and she holds me up with her hands cupped under my ass. Five years upstate and she still remembers my body.

“I missed you Negra. Now stop talking shit and take me home.”

I rub my nose against the tattoo.

“Mother fuckin’ Billy.”

She starts to laugh and around us, our old friends hoot and clap while she murmurs in my ear.

“Mother. Fucking. Billy.”



PS..this week brought to you by the one word prompt “Billy” that I stole from someone else.

Yeah Write #219 entry- Waste Not


Waste Not


Shannon Barber

The scream cut off after too many seconds.

L stands naked in the middle of the tiled room, hands on her wide hips, her mouth pulled down at the corners.

“Shit, didn’t know he was gonna be a screamer.”

B the other naked woman is frowning too, her bloody arms crossed over her breasts.

“I swear to all our Gods you have got the worst taste in sacrifice. Did you even fuck him first?”

L’s shoulders hunch up around her ears and she prods the head of the sacrifice.

“Well, I sat on his face for an hour that counts right?”

B rolls her eyes mightily and goes to wash her hands and pick up her phone. She scrolls through documents until she finds the one she wants.

“Okay, all is not lost. How about we talk to  Nekhbet? She’s a vulture so carrion should be good. And it’s been a while since we raised an oracle to talk to. Start stacking the body parts and should we include some other meat in case she’s not in the mood for white dude?”

L smiles and starts to arrange the parts.

“Naw I think it’ll be good. You get the altar ready. Oh boo you got bloody parts in your butt crack.”

B shrugs.

“Eh, it could be worse.”

She pauses to admire the jiggling brown backside of her wife, unable to help herself, she stops what she’s doing and stares.


L looks over her shoulder.


“We fuckin’ later or nah?”

L slowly wiggles her butt, letting the jiggle travel from butt cheeks down her thighs.

“You nasty and yeah. Now get to work so we can finish up and head out.”

B turns back to her work carefully writing the start of the incantation in the dead man’s blood.

Father of Fathers, Mother of Mothers, who hath existed from the Beginning, and is Creatrix of this World.



Meet Nekhbet here.


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