Response: Lies

Editor Kirsten Larson, Editor's Choice, February 23rd, 2015

"There's a 'naked truth' in BDSM."

sarah anne johnson art nailed magazine

In our monthly Response Column, NAILED asks readers to respond to a particular word or topic. We are seeking raw, honest personal responses that aim less to answer questions and more to raise them. Responses in the form of art, photography, essay, story, poem, and rant will all be considered for publication. March’s topic is CRUSH, please email your responses to [email protected] by March 22nd, for publication at the end of the month. (Word count limit: 1,000 words.)

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Response: Lies

To Bear Witness, by Jessica Lohafer


After Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Deer’s Skull With Pedernal”

I have tricked you to believe
a hollow thing alive, its conversation
………….a bloom from the skull
See, how it makes like limbs
like relief from this haze of dust

The background stays blue
and I am reminding you
of water, its current
sending sparks to bear witness:

It will be over soon.
Around the bend,
………….there is land that won’t
sound back like a kick to the teeth

A woman can’t afford to be sharp
………….to cut, or pierce
I have not offered you anything,
no exit strategy or blade
only this form, deliberately.


Jessica Lohafer is a poet, feminist, and bartender out of Bellingham, WA. She is the author of What’s Left to Be Done, a poetry chapbook published by Radical Lunchbox Press in 2009. Her work has appeared in Whatcom Magazine, The Noisy Water Review, Thriving Thru The Winter: A Pacific Northwest Handguide, Drunk in the Midnight Choir and the Crossing Guide. She makes dry jokes at her monthly reading, The Write Riot Poetry Slam, and serves as the Chuckanut Writers Conference Chair at Whatcom Community College. She misses the Midwest. She is fluent in Spanish when inebriated. Learn more about her at The Picture of Success, here.

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no one by the end, by Jared John Smith


Better at lying than telling the truth, Antonio said. He played video games. My mother’s meager income afforded cable and three daily meals each. I’d fold my arms, my oversized, baggy hand-me-down sweatshirt, and nod through his virtual adventures. “Yeah” and “Oh, how did you do that?” were my tickets. He was this thin, confident stalk of celery, clean-cut in his ironed dress slacks. “What did you think when…?” he might offer. I’d fire back, “Well you know how you did this in that other game? I did that.” Misdirection was my sole takeaway as a teenage amateur magician. I lied my way through hobbies. The Classics. Never saw one. Could talk enough about them to transition into the next “goodbye” and “hello.” No one by the end knew different. Films. Literature. Games. But academics caught me. The tests knew. The principal said, “Your son is failing his classes. He spends all his time doodling or skipping class.” My first summer job renting out VHS films, I could recommend any feature of any genre. Did I watch a single one? I read the backs. When the return-box clunked, I asked, “How was it?” Their opinions became mine. The best invention of the twenty-first century was Wikipedia, just eight months before the World Trade Center fell; eleven months before Antonio discovered I was better at lying than telling the truth. Wikipedia would, years later, inform me of everything I never had to experience to know of. Not the full article. The summary at the top.

Deus Ex predicted Nine-Eleven, Antonio said. Pretty crazy? The previous summer we discussed the first-person shooter extensively. I said, “Pretty crazy.” He asked, “Why’s it crazy?” I said, “You know why. You just said it predicted Nine-Eleven.” He asked, “Yeah, how?” I said, “You know. Down to every detail.” He asked, “Yeah, what’re the details?”

Mom’s meager income afforded three daily meals each and eighty-one cable channels. I ate four meals and watched two channels. Nine-Eleven was three months in the past and I knew the planes and the buildings were gone. And people were gone. I knew Deus Ex was a videogame with guns. Like during class, I doodled a lot and absorbed little.

You don’t know the details, Antonio said. You’re a liar.

“I don’t even own a computer,” I said.

I lent you five games. What did you do with them?

“They sat on my bookshelf.” The years-old books never creased, never read.

Why would you do that?

The next friend asked that. So did the next ones. I breezed through Shakespeare’s whole discography and Beethoven’s Beowulf. I played through the Pink Floyd Wall until I got fed up with the boss and quit, didn’t even save my progress. I knew every episode of Lord of the Rings by heart. The battle at Linkin Park was atrocious but, in the end, it didn’t even matter. Nixon’s house was flooded. I couldn’t believe we fought with Iraq over a game of golf. Lying may have cost me friendships but I learned everything I know about the world from it. Humanity is the sum of shared experiences. Without any knowledge I’d be no one by the end.


Jared John Smith lifts freight by day and writes by night. His first novel was Rabbit. He is currently writing two literary small-city-big-town dramas. His other love, aside from the cat, is talking. You can say anything you want to Jared at [email protected].

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Naked Truth, by Morgan Chase


There’s a “naked truth” in BDSM.

Not just in the physical sense, but emotionally. Even spiritually for some.

Although when you involve a Professional, well…things may get a little skewed.

The clientele of a fetish facilitator ranges anywhere from thrill-seeking novelties to serious D/s engagements. It’s a world where fantasies become work, and I’m honest with myself enough to know that certain jobs cross lines that I’m not interested in crossing for the money. My fascination is not in role-play, but in true analysis of the submissive psyche. My domination style doesn’t work for all, but for those I do connect with, it’s a connection that lasts.

In fact, almost all the men and couples I am approached by have been burned by failed attempts at creating that bond. Detroit is a big city with a small scene, and because of that, some submit to desperation on both sides of the Dom/sub spectrum: The man may be desperate to feel his true desires, and the woman may be desperate to make ends meet that week. It’s a poor choice to portray a persona that can’t be maintained for an hour, even at the standard rate of hundreds of dollars. But repairing the damage done by others’ lies has unfortunately become a regular occurrence in my business.

It isn’t the norm, in my experience, to value integrity so highly in such a relationship, but it is instantly appreciated. To move forward from any unfortunate circumstance requires trust, and that is not something I charge to give or take. Valuable time and energy is wasted on not telling the truth, even when it seems like showboating will lead to success in the adult industry. I will continue to thrive off of this honesty policy that I require from anyone who contacts me, seeking a Dominatrix.

My clients have nothing to hide, and neither do I.


Ms. Morgan Chase, Detroit, Michigan’s Premier Dominatrix is young, experienced, and with a unique perspective. She possesses an intelligent, psychological approach, which when paired with her charismatic charm and strong, militant background has created an unstoppable impact. Brains, Beauty and Brawn, changing the BDSM scene from the start.

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Heat, by Raffaello Mazza


I was invited up to her loft after dinner because of the peppers.

It was a short visit to the city, my former city, and on a whim I decided
to call Mona, our old next door neighbor. “Sure,” Mona said, “let’s meet tonight.
Come up to the apartment and then we’ll go to dinner.”

Seven flights up, no elevator, a place I dream about now. Narrow hallways still
reeking with the pungency of early twentieth century. I would come home here
evenings happy to see my new bride, then happy to take the trash out—seven
flights down, seven up. Five minutes later eager to go pick up the missing
ingredient for dinner—seven flights down, seven up. And then maybe one last trip
for some other non-essential—seven flights down, seven up.

Tonight would be different. The bride was gone, a casualty of our youthful
impetuousness, but an impetuousness leading to a brief storybook romance.

I had a mild “thing” for Mona, nothing much on the storybook scale, but I
could relax and just let things unwind whatever way they went.

I scaled up to the seventh and proceeded déjà vu-fashion down that claustrophobic
hallway towards Mona’s on the left, distracted by a sea of memories seeping out of the
passageway, mostly on the right.

Before I could settle into the sensory past the sensory present pre-empted: a female
figure with her back to me, Mona’s door opening, and my being pulled into a
sudden triad. “This is Sabrina,” Mona gleefully intoned. The rush picked up speed and strength as Sabrina turned her head towards me.

Gorgeous. There was no need to look closely at this package of beauty—it was all there on the surface: Eurasian, bouncy, projecting softness, mystery, seduction … all in a split second. The fuse was lit.

Do you mind Sabrina joining us for dinner? Sure I’d mind—to the same extent
as winning a Nobel Prize.

The Chinese restaurant became my platform. Any insecurities on my part vanished like
an ice cube in hot tea as I slid into a high gear of performance for my audience:
encompassing comedy, drama, tall tales—all wrapped in a sweet coating of charm.

Ultimately it was the peppers that did it. I don’t know where the inspiration came from but my intuition did its job. I ordered a dish topped with peppers transcending any normal hotness scale, settling into dimensions of fieriness outside of human tolerance.

My libidinal subconscious drove me to greater and greater heights as I demonstrated, to delighted oohs and aahs, gulping down the fiery devils without apparent consequence.

But there was a sweet consequence to the pepper show- manifested by a smooth transition from not knowing where I would spend the night, to Sabrina’s casual
invitation up to her loft. There was no awkwardness on her part nor on mine.
The deal had been sealed by the seventh pepper, if not earlier. There actually is
a scale to measure heat of peppers and now I was riding that big hot wave in,
glorious and ready to claim my prize.

At this point I could easily drone on and on about the fiery connection that unspooled
between Sabrina and me—tipsy orgies splattering pastel paint on walls, a rescue from the ladies’ room, the lighthouse adventure, subway trips that were like chariot rides into the heavens, and all manner of romantic delirium. But that’s for another time.
Suffice it to say that our connection meshed on all levels: it was romantic, erotic, artistic,
playful, spontaneous, and self-perpetuating. Oh yes!

And yet there was no clinging between us.

We lived hours apart and I would typically call Sabrina, without warning, ten minutes after arriving in the city, only to immediately be whisked into our cocoon: that protective force field we had created to house our incendiary chemistry.

Sabrina sent beautiful and poetic love letters, carefully handwritten and perfectly
resonant with our extraordinary connection.

Her love letters were like drops of manna from heaven, sweet but forceful, and able to weave our magic into that thing called reality.

At a certain point Sabrina’s letters took a turn that might have seemed impossible.
The letters rapidly intensified far beyond anything that I had ever experienced, with her
or anyone else.

On a metaphoric level the sealed envelopes reached a point where I could barely hold them—it was like holding a red-hot skillet. I could feel the words inside.

Then one day a letter arrived that left all the previous scorching letters in the dust.
This particular letter had engaged warp speed and beamed me to another galaxy.
There are no words to describe her words. My atoms surrendered to new and unknown laws of physics. I melted, happily.
The very next day another letter arrived.

I braced myself, holding my breath while opening it.
It was a Dear John letter. Very straightforward, very matter-of-fact:
“I will now be with a man from before. He fits for me and my daughter.”
The daughter she had left with her ex, back in her hometown where she had been crowned Miss of that town.

I called her. She picked up the phone and asked in a perfectly flat voice why I was calling. I could hear voices in the room, sounding like a man and a young girl.
I felt like a stranger and intruder.

I asked for an explanation. I asked for a meeting. But I knew the spell was broken.
I was calling at a bad time, because now any time was a bad time. Her efficiency in ending the call made me a like the telemarketer who knows that the next three seconds are it and it’s

That was then and now is now.

And to this day I ask myself, what was that?


Raffaello Mazza is an instructor at California Institute of the Arts, in the school of Film/Video. He has been a writer and producer for a number of public radio series including Prescription for Survival and American Dialogues.Italian being his fist language, his English has trended in a Mediterranean direction.

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Header image courtesy of Sarah Anne Johnson. To view a gallery of her chromogenic prints, go here.

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Kirsten Larson

Kirsten Larson is a Contributing Editor at NAILED. She lives near Portland, Oregon. She loves words and is very curious. She received her MFA in writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She writes for The Huffington Post, and is an Adjunct Instructor at Portland State University. Her work can be found in NAILED, Huffington Post, Pathos, M Review, and several other places. She is currently working on two books.