every day at three pm
the chime rings and
most of us ignore it.
we are sitting in front
of it; he in his wheelchair
and me standing, nervous,
moving  from side to side
with clench palm, straw inside,
unable to commit to the chair
I placed at the entrance of
the cage.

the birds in the aviary
smell their own shit all day and
think the bell is a taunting God
clanging from a distance to keep time
of their blinkered sentence.
they have flown less than one mile,
tired out on plastic branches
picking each other’s imagined nits;
stick legs and beady eyes that,
if bigger,
would reflect a melancholy
I always thought that myself,
or the willows wore best
                  but they have a rival.

I consider lighting the whole thing on fire
so they can rise to the clouds with the smoke;
use their wings for something other than
beating back water
during forced bath time when
that satanic effigy
in a hazmat suit approaches and
I’d give them tiny tools:
tiny lighters, tiny bullets, gatling guns
and the wherewithal to fire them.
ice picks for the stabs and
the insults to go deeper.
I’d help haunt him.
but they are small, untrained,
and they’d just eat the things.
smell the irony
when the cage fills up with
bloody stool and the devil
in white comes back to wash
them out.

my apologies are inaudible.
outside looking in,
gawking, checking my phone
for the time, an old love letter,
avoiding my clients’ increasing mucus
in his cough,
his impending question.
(no missed calls)
             do you think Sarah?
          in his Polish accent,
            sleeve half covering his mouth to hide the yellow
                            discharge.
.               I have a tissue in my pocket, wilting.
            unprepared to think of anyone but myself
               at this time in my process.
             (check the time)

             but they don’t get words,
fertilized; little beaks poking through
spotted eggs and
above all else,
birds with clipped wings
avoid the despondency
that liberty brings.
that bell rings
and I want them to know
               that the birds think that bell is a God?
                  muted sniffle.
                 I move past the withering Kleenex,
                      his equally decaying stare,
                         to check the time again
                      (no new voicemails)

that bell rings and
I want them to know
just how badly freedom hurts.

“the aviary”

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“now,” and because I’ve done this before I felt
like I had the authority to be the one to
say it to him, “when they ask what you
are, tell them
humbled.”

 

he brought me the water.

 

“I just feel like an animal.”

 

he sat next to me despite how hot it was in my apartment.

 

“you’re more feral than others.”

 

I shook my head.

 

“I’m virile though. don’t you agree? I hold so much acid
here. caustic.”

he sipped his water.

 

“wouldn’t that prove you’re human not animal? those sensations.”

 

I watched a lot of animal documentaries and videos always choosing the ones that showed attacks.

 

“sometimes I think they enjoy it.”

 

he placed the glass on a coaster as if it mattered.

 

“who is they?”

 

“predators. sometimes I think predators enjoy it.”

 

“do you enjoy it, sarah?”

 

I knew what he meant.

 

 “do you enjoy the kill?”

 

smiles don’t prove malefaction, they exhibit it.

 

“not the kill but the hunt.”

 

we sweat in silence for an instant. the water not cold enough. the apartment ablaze. my shelves sturdy and everything else in motion.

 

–responses from Hecate during meditation

 

the hex begins by posting their names
and watching the likes and shares
proliferate.

I start by slaughtering your brothers
in front of you to see if
you can stand it.

8.

 

I have innumerable theories about
myself because people have told me
who I am and I was
unsturdy, unstable, in tantrum,
unfed in many ways.

I watched a lot of screens.
I used to stare at my face in the mirror
to watch it change and I used
to talk to plants.
called it “plant math.”
a way of division. always
start with subtracting then
adding then multiplying.
at a young age, I grasped death
by cutting worms in half and watching
bugs eat other bugs.
you can say this even if you can’t
say psychopath.
I felt nothing watching worms
writhe except giant and I slapped
two friends across the face
before I was ten.
classify the dormant into boxes
and you have a child who will
spend all day behind a shed doing
“plant math” until she has created
a science.
I know three things about myself:

 

  1. I’ve never been in recriprocated love with a man.
    2. I have no compassion left.
  1. I once built a pyramid to God and invited everyone inside.

 

“the act of refutation”

 

“Ok, sooo start over, but from the beginning. Just exactly how it is.
“ I told you already exactly…”
“Yeah, you have, but you never, ever EVER tell it in linear order.”
“You always say lin..”
“I mean, you always fill in a detail way later, way after the accident, and then you start talking about what happened that day. It’s like a….what is it?” he turns to Marisol.

Marisol was fiddling with the papers on the love seat. Little green buds dotted her skirt. She raised her right hand and gestured to the air.
“Like, like choppy. Some kind of David Lynch daydream except as not as cool and nobody cares.” She licked the paper. “And you’ll never finish it.”
He waved his hand at her as if to say no way but he sipped his beer and didn’t continue the story.
“Forget it, tell it later, let’s get drunk first.” Jack said walking over to get a beer from the fridge.
David chimed back in, “You know I have that acid in my pocket too.”
Jack studied the fridge for a second before deciding which brand he wanted. They had brought so much beer for such a short weekend and small party. Hedonistic.
“I think we should wait,” he said. “Just a little bit longer.”

“What are you waiting for?” Marisol got up from the couch, forgetting her previous project. She wrapped her hands around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder.
“We’re waiting to cut the dose. I thought Marco was coming. Elise for sure.”
“Just do it, dude let’s do it. It’s still early and it lasts for hours. It’s already 6:30.” David repeated, motioning to his phone.
“Yeah, but…”
“No one else is coming, right?”

He walked over to the both of them and held his phone up to Jack’s face to show him the weather forecast. FLASH FLOOD WARNING in black bold letters. “The storm is getting worse and it’s a long drive. No one’s coming all the way to the trail to split two hits of acid among like seven people.”

Jack opened the bottle with his keychain, nodding to himself. Marisol held his waist tight, sort of purring next to him. David turned to glance at Lilian but she was completely checked out.

“Are you even getting service here?”
Stunned, she lowered her hand and looked at him.
“I was just playing the card game.”
David nodded, masking his resentment.

Not just at her aloofness but having ever left Milah to begin with and for having invited Lilian on this trip or for ever asking what she was doing on her phone. They held eye contact briefly before she went back to her phone.  Jack and Marisol were whispering when David turned his attention back to them. Fuck this.

“Ok, I’m cutting it. Half a dose each.”

He walked past the couple to grab scissors from the counter. He had placed them earlier when he tried to cut it at three.

“Let’s do it now, otherwise, we will be up all night.”

He had three tabs total. He pulled two out now and cut them both in half, easy with precision. Not even glancing back at his girlfriend, he remarked, “Lilian, you can sit this one out if you want.”

Lilian tucked a strand of wispy dirty blonde hair behind her hair and stared towards the kitchen, still entranced with the graphics from her phone. Mouse. She blinked and everyone stared back at her. Jack already had his hand out and Marisol was walking back to the love seat to return to rolling the joint.

“Ummm,” she began, clutching the phone but also letting it fall towards her thigh so she wasn’t looking at it.

David and Jack were peeling back the paper and sticking out their tongues. Marisol was back to spreading the flowers over the paper. Salome was marked by indecision as a rule.

“You don’t have to,” Jack smiled, warmth radiating.

David turned to face the other direction so she didn’t see his visible irritation.  She nodded. Marisol glanced at her and smiled.

“Do you smoke?”
“Sometimes,” she dropped the phone and started running her fingers through her hair with both hands. “Tonight probably.” She glanced at David. “Not the acid though.”

David turned completely around to face her, stuck his tongue out and dropped the paper beneath his tongue. Spiteful, he snapped his mouth shut like a reptile, a crocodile. To the room, it appeared they knew their problems but they didn’t. They both carried distractions like moats blocking passage or transcendence of any real conversation between them. It had been like this. It would probably remain like this. Jack had also stuck his piece under his tongue.

“Marisol?”

She hopped up letting her high, dark ponytail swing behind her as she galloped towards them. Letting her fingers tickle his abdomen first, she leaned over to kiss him as David watched. The room was full of bitter. Outside the first loud thunder cracked.

“It begins,” Marisol said cheerily and stuck her tab under her tongue.

Lilian and the gang were separated by a kitchen island. The three of them talked amongst themselves and she walked to one of the bedrooms. Tiptoed, actually. She made herself useful somewhere else unpacking David’s suitcase. An act of gratitude or fear, it was unclear but she was the one that heard the rap on the door. It was the back screen door. She was the one that paused as she lifted out a pair of cargo pants. She was the one that laid them flat on the bed, walked out the door and she was the one that saw a hooded woman through the window. She was the one that opened the door without making a sound to see her, drenched and shaking and she was the one that said, “Please come in” and watched the woman traipse mud across the welcome mat onto the hardwood floors.

“you’re not a sociopath,” he said to me. “why do you say this all of the time?”

shrugs don’t prove apathy, they exhibit it.

“I have no feelings.”

he was tinkering with the olive colored shelf as I had demanded. I was unsure if my anchor screws were secure.

“they are,” he said. “good job with the shelves. and you do feel. I see it.”

smiles don’t prove light, they exhibit it.

“no, I don’t care about anything.”

he hopped down from my couch and put the hammer down on my coffee table.

“sarah, I don’t see you running around murdering people.”

“sociopaths don’t murder people, they feel nothing for other people. psychopaths murder people.”

walking across slumped bodies doesn’t prove compassion fatigue, it exhibits it. 

 

“want some water?” he asked and headed towards the kitchen.

 

I nodded.

 

“if it were up to me, I would live on a boat in the middle of an ocean without a single thought or issue crossing my mind letting the days wash over me until I was sun beaten.”

I heard the faucet.

“until I was rested and drained.”

I heard the glass clank.

“until I wanted the salt water finally.”

I heard him cough.

“you’re tired. that’s all.”

 

walking the block for hours at a time without talking to a single person doesn’t prove dissociation, it exhibits it. maybe you should spell it for him.

 

n

i

h

i

l

i

s

m

 

father, we can be happy all the time.

 

just because my highest value is love
doesn’t mean I know what that
means. I sit all day
in a rocking chair and plot

the deaths of others,
then just turn on myself. 

 

7.

oh, everyone is mad at
me like I care or have a single
feeling that isn’t moored
with self-depreciation.
spell it then.

n

i

h

i

l

i

s

m
mother, we can be happy
all the time.

I’ve shoved my current project
to the side of my mouth
because I am bursting with
decisiveness and for once,
can you even believe
that I chose perplexity,
a saint’s patience,
not begging,
ruining it anyway
just so I can sit here like
a lonely bitch tied to
outdoor patio furniture
waiting for the sun to go
down or for their master to step
out?

 

just panting and sitting in
her own piss,
shedding like crazy,
bewildered at the sky’s
sudden brightness,
conditioned to salivate when
your screen door opens
as if I even have a spare
drop to lose in this
heat.

 

GIVE IT TO ME.

 

“bells”

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