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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smirk.

black lipstick and naked eyes and
lied about time when I asked her.
she looked at her wrist to
count the hearts but missed an
hour and she is
dulled,
not rusty but
blunt and I know
when she walked away,
her hand was

steadily sharpening.

 

“how guys save me in their phone #6”

perfunctory
and evil like a tease,
slow to build and
protected by sheer
want

an alarm.
a storm brims the coast
and you start writing down
anything you remember
about me.
I am undulating in great
tidal gasps; a siren
sights set on horizon,
humming low, humming
softly and
         come in closer
splayed across the break.

your arid soul is thirsty for the
new oasis I’ve become
but your obtrusive leaps
are doused in hex
before they ever reach me.
you are responsible for
some of this and
I am responsible for
that.
my bed is soaked
and I am angry.
black in vengeance cloaks
in white to walk the streets
the way furtive angels might.
you send me butterflies
at night
to assuage me.
I return the offer:

I dress in wings,
suck the nectar from the
dusk’s flowers,
learn her tales,
twist into my final form:
a long nightmare,
black hairy legs and
two tagmata,
one long dry choke
at the stroke of
3:33 every
morning onward.
you spend the year immured
in poetry and pieces
of half finished themes

obsessing over everything
you turn to see.
over everything you thought you
saw out of your
unrelenting periphery,
       how many twins do I own?
thought you
dreamed and wrote
down, unwind,
which moon did I come out of
and how many wolves
did I set free last night?
I become immune.

you become the
stranded calf in
my forest while
I spend the year
immersed in baths of
black obsidian and
forgetting what it
ever meant to
me.

“us, reversing”

I take my chances and
ask for the exorcism after I heard a
tiny moan in my throat that came from
another woman when I tried to swallow
and lost my breath instead.

no one makes fun of me ever again.

the first thing I showed him was the callous
here look
and he licked it with his tongue
without questioning my need to
grip things so tightly
I’ve succumb to carpal tunnel,
arthritis, delusions of
grandeur and infancy.

has anyone ever talked to you about splitting?”
is what the doctor said to me once.
I was twisting the straw
in my fingers, contorting my
face and confessing things,
sometimes i like to shoplift.

“Who is Catarina?”

sometimes I like to fuck men with wives.

“splitting is a phenomenon in which you  sort of leave your body to allow another persona to take over.”

sometimes I like to punish bad boys.

“like possession?”

sometimes I like to peek at Christmas presents.

“no, more like split personality.”

sometimes I watch the mirror dance in candlelight
            and wait for her to come in
              I break men
like the swell that rises over bridges
engulfing islands with her mouth,
we break men with turns of
tides.


“the journal”

It was like that my whole life. Not the scene played out although I did test a man long enough for him to wrap his hands around my throat and slam me on a bed. More the feeling of a vengeful conqueror behind me, beside me and not feeling threatened for safety but image. I became preoccupied with the bruise the rest of the walk. A thumbprint and him, I wanted to remember him shuddering slightly, recoiling at the sight of me. Yes, here are things I will do. I began to list them out loud in public. I used my thumb to start the count so the next man I passed near a storefront knows I am serious.

1.I would push a man in front of a moving truck if he ever threatens my life.
2. I would change direction on the street to avoid someone right in front of them.
3. I would steal from everyone.

I always mentioned survival but never my gluttony. I never mentioned my temper. Writers learn to show it so do dancers. I began lining my pockets with trinkets and stones and watching myself become a pretty painted pink teapot I notice as I passed store windows.

“That motherfucker left a mark,” I say a few times outloud as I begin my trek back, unsure if I’m right but then I check.

It was like that my whole life. Not the scene played out although I did test a man long enough for him to wrap his hands around my throat and slam me on a bed. More the feeling of a vengeful conqueror behind me, beside me and not feeling threatened for safety but image. I became preoccupied with the bruise the rest of the walk. A thumbprint and him, I wanted to remember him shuddering slightly, recoiling at the sight of me. Yes, here are things I will do. I began to list them out loud in public. I use my thumb to start the count so the next man I pass near a storefront knows I am serious.

1.I would push a man in front of a moving truck if he ever threatens my life.
2. I would change direction on the street to avoid someone right in front of them.
3. I would steal from everyone.

I always mentioned survival but never my gluttony. I never mentioned my temper. Writers learn to show it so do dancers. I began lining my pockets with trinkets and stones and watching myself become a pretty painted pink teapot as I passed poor storefronts.

“That motherfucker left a mark,” I saw a few times outloud as I begin my trek back, unsure if I’m right but then I check.

The other night I dreamt of a house in some desert town entrapping myself and a man that wanted nothing to do with me inside.

I just wanted to tell you what happened.


  It was based on a childhood movie favorite of mine called “Kingdom of the Spiders” in which tarantulas land somewhere in Arizona to usurp power from man. There had been some other scenes in this dream before the final illustrious ending. I wrote those down as well: your friend at my parent’s house helping me get rid of cockroaches and building a sturdy foundation, suppliant, nodding, agreeable and eager to help. The house was dark but I recognized him and he wasn’t bothered by the cockroach crawling up my arm. The one I thought about all day was us in that house and your apathy.  In the dream, I had walked up to you in a crowd simply asking you to listen and then we were in the last scene of the movie where the townspeople are trapped inside of a house and the screen pans out to show you that the spiders have come together to build a giant web around the structure. There is no escape and it’s just you and me inside. My recent meditation centered around the idea that home is impermanent. Unless a giant tarantula traps you.


When I woke up I began to assemble the pieces with a more ambrosial patience than I had previously carried. Sort of thrumming all over, I hummed down the street that day ,turning the music up and down, playing different songs, trying to get out of the repetition while being mired in it. I wore a sundress that showed off my tattoos and didn’t want to be bothered. Those two statements are not incongruent despite what witnesses say.  My body is giant so it’s hard to ignore me. I have become engorged with different pieces of media, old stored clips and new clips that I feast on like rock cake but I was raised to take chances, be optimistic (spread your arms like this, Cat) so I’m buoyant, bright despite the weight of everything I’ve ever seen or heard.  Parroting at times, I can spit things back like a tape recorder and rote memorization is how I aced every subject, however, I am generally confused and turned around when it comes to directions. My memories are interwoven with the memories of myself watching characters evolve either on screen, in print or in my head and there are often times when I am not here but there or somewhere I have never been.  While I distinctly remember running outside with my summer reading list to feel the sun beat my back when I was only six years old, I also remember something can be fabricated or exaggerated in retrospect. Maybe bravery is learned or maybe you earn it with age or maybe you’re born full of grace and ready and able to face everything.


I heard a few things growing up that took place outside of my head and began to list them. That you should never have sex with boys and you should never let them have sex with you. They put the emphasis on you and let. You cannot let them win the invasion. You cannot let them pinch your butt when you walk by. You cannot let them masturbate about you. That I was a girl. I knew that I was a girl and I knew what the word precocious meant. I heard it enough that when I had access to the dictionary it was the  first word I ever looked up.

 precocious 

adjective

(of a child) having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual.


“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Cat.”

Some things I heard early. When you are a girl they tell you certain things and leave out others. Namely, you are to behave. To learn to cross your legs. To learn to smile even in humiliation as public shaming is a way to control us; namely kids, children of all genders. It’s the guilt my calves are strong from; namely, the way I ran.  I was a girl. I wore dresses for picture day and combed my hair only right before they took the picture.

“Smile. You have such a pretty smile.”

I learned to smile. I learned to say thank you and please. I learned to monitor the volume of my voice, even in uproarious laughter, even when I won the game, even when I outran a boy, I learned to contain myself. I was raised in the south as a girl.

“You’re precocious.”

But I threw tantrums; explosive displays of trauma, emotion, tidal waves that took over anything near me. I had violent reactivity as well as bladder control issues, cried a lot, was called “very sweet,” placed in advanced classes, asked if I was “slow” in the same week, had not learned spatial reasoning or how to take the word no with any grace by the time I write this and was always very pretty. The second word I looked up was oppositional. I had oppositional defiant disorder I learned very late. I did things to spite whomever whenever but only when the odds were mostly in my favor.  You never know for sure and you can’t bet on anything that talks.

 precocious 

adjective

(of behavior or ability) indicative of early development.

 Girls don’t have that, boys do. Girls have hysterics, tantrums, bratty behavior that has to be shunned out. If you wet your pants, they assume you like attention or are being molested but they don’t ask how much you’ve had to drink that day. They don’t see your eating habits, your dehydration or little tendencies to hoard. I couldn’t handle the word no or wait or stop asking to go to the bathroom and often could be found kind of shaking. My muscles gave up. These cries burst from a place of fullness and I proved to be avid as I gained weight.  They considered me querulous but dainty like a painted pink teapot coming to boil. Catarina, full of grace and soda, and I twirled.

“Veruca Salt!” he yelled after me.

Even though I had entered the land of no land where I get to enjoy my camp acid crescendo, my bursting ellipsis that plays on a loop on an app on my phone in my eardrums, I heard him. I knew who he was.

“I’m busy,” I turned the music down.

“For me? I thought I was your main man,” he winked behind me, I think

That’s an understatement.
I intellectualize.

I was precocious and oppositional and fancied all my girl friends as a child wondering what it would be like to rub my thighs against the inside of their thighs. One time, I got my neighbor to rub her body on my body when we were five and all of my friends’ mothers kept an eye on me because the fathers were only good for salivating over chopstick legs so I got away with things. I eyed their daughters like a thirsty hawk that just found water. Lap at the edge and perch, wait for the muskrats to peek out at dusk. I was always touching myself.

“I’m too busy to have a main man.”

But he kept pace with me even though I believed I walked the fastest in the whole world. Men were everywhere like a pestilence or cancer and I couldn’t get away. I mostly averted my eyes when I walked but here he was, demanding something. I had been absentmindedly rubbing my forearm and swaying, forgetting that I was in public at an intersection waiting for the light to change when I heard him right behind me. I had been practicing silence. I had turned down the music but my earbuds were in.


“Veruca Salt!”

I was built to be a very gay dancer but also once I dared a guy to watch me eat an entire chocolate cake in front of him while he stroked his dick for my enjoyment and here we are. I vow to ignore him. I regret the game but like I said we are here.

You are here.

“I’ve been thinking about you.”
My hand is clutching the hem of my skirt because I am practicing open palms.
“I’ve been busy.”
I begin to let a finger drop and the light changes.
“For me? I thought I was your main man.”

I dash across the street. My knees hurt. My ankles hurt. My back hurts. I am practically running and he thinks my appetite is about him. He thinks someone this unquenchable just hasn’t seen the fountain. He thinks he is the fountain. He has never been so full he wet his bed. He thinks I enjoy him. He thinks it’s really ok to really grab my arm as I dash away from him in public.

The first thing I do is suppress a gasp. It is in my nature to vocalize, almost narrate the drama. It is also in my nature to overreact but I am practicing the lean in mentality of masculinity. Show no emotion, detach quickly and respond with force. Lean in, Cat. Then, I jerk my elbow away from him. I watch him stumble only slightly on his own. Then, I whip my neck around in time to see the pickup truck. Lean in, Cat. I make the choice and push him. The truck swerves a little even though there is plenty of space, but it’s the surprise of the event that moves them to tip the wheel to the right. You can always trust your instinct.  Really at this stage in my life, my arms are so weak; soft and sculpted merely for aesthetic but I couldn’t get the lid off my rose-lavender candle without someone’s help. No one is hurt but the man saw the truck swerve out of his periphery which I count on too. A parched hawk. He felt himself get pushed by a woman, and felt himself tumble backwards a little. He felt the air of the truck whoosh by him as he felt his heel step off the curb. He felt the tension breathe in the air above it’s tire a good three feet away but nothing feels safe when you’re pushed. I want to show him the bruise he left but didn’t want any more engagement and didn’t want anyone thinking my flesh was easy to puncture or mark.

“I like the handprint,” I admire the red of my ass in the mirror while she smirks. I can see her. I should have been a gay dancer.

precocious

adjective

(of a plant) flowering or fruiting earlier than usual.
I have never seen that man again. He has not tried to contact me or say my name in the street or mention me anywhere.

“datura moon”

You hugged me like an hourglass,
I was wet with sweat
and storm
and something else
denied.

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