“Live! And have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.”

-gwendolyn brooks

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I stared

harboring

all 

soft slopes from a distance

harsh gray eyeliner smudged from the sweat of 

trying too hard,

partially parted lips,

glimpse of teeth that grind her dead to sleep,

one dangling finger that pointed to her skin

to remind you how she feels at night

(soft-shelled murder)

and those full moon eyes.

Watching.

–The photograph

. Then my overeager lover attempted to go down on me sixteen different times to prove his might to absent men.

Let’s play provincial gal. Uncrease my skirt, tighten my cardigan and stomp on. I spent the morning swearing at my hands for getting me into this mess before I learned to press them together to keep them from talking to anything else. Earth owes me

I showed up to his house full of food and a toothbrush I had stolen. I would keep the toothbrush here. I would take the food to work. It was in his room. He was at his computer, I was on his bed. I had been drinking diet coke but also an entire bottle of wine and was going to open another one when he said

“I think you’re an alcoholic.”

When I watch horror movies, I love trying to pick up on the exact moment that the character realizes they are not getting out of the haunted abandoned church basement alive. They had brought the Ouija board with good intentions, they had gotten a little stoned with their boyfriend, they were taking off their shirt. The first thud, the first punch in the gut, the first threat with the knife and the first time the ghost showed his face was just a “teaching moment,” but there was still time. It was an accident. They can run!  Now, they are chained to the radiator and she’s forced to eat parts of her dead  boyfriend just to survive and it’s with the first pluck of their friend’s esophagus, her chin smeared in blood and she’s sobbing and you know that she knows she won’t ever wake up in her bed again. She finally understands.

“I’m not an alcoholic.”

You’re not like other girls.”

That is correct. I was insane and bankrupt. 

We were having an affair and every time we fucked I wondered if my blowjob was sloppy enough so sometimes I spit in his face before I left to make it clear 

i heard him.

“Are you drinking?”

I knew what to say based on years of rehearsed emotion.  I took a long sip and offered desperate reassurance that I was still quitting.  Tried to remind him I was dying.

He told me about the sloppy blowjob his girlfriend gave him and I hung up and allowed myself to feel one inch of my heart break before I polished off the bottle. Listened to the same song on repeat. I googled “suicide by asphyxiation,” “Hara Kiri” “self immolation.”   I spent most of that winter engaged in battle. I walked most nights to 7-11. I answered all of his calls. I pet my cat when she would have me. I missed my mother while she was alive.I was googling the death rate in Syria and trying to write about it. He and I were getting to know ourselves through the cracks in each other. 

2015, reflections

I once met a man who would leave me right at the edge of myself and God. I would meet him many times. He would meet me at different times,  leave me in the same place, in smaller pieces, in bigger phoenixes. 

#1

I was an orphan of my own making. Furtive wolf obsessed with the phases of the moon and moral turpitude. I pictured myself thinner than I was. A walking mugshot of the night I almost drown in four loko, battery acid, an impulsive storm echoing “die.”  I wore that broken sternum with pride and I took for granted every hour of my life.  

Mostly wet,  I had a shaved head to call my own and very little else. I had been staying on a friend’s couch most nights and  with my parents when they had me. My room was gone but I had a bed in the den and a shower curtain for privacy. That’s where my cat was. I had a part time job, two in fact, a little bit of change,always something to smoke and drink, and not much space for self containment. I drank wine from a plastic cup that night with my name in block letters so he knew who I was. I met him sometime early.

 Creeping to the bathroom to retrieve the water bottle from my purse, he walked towards me held the tender inside of my elbow to ask me to come outside when I was out. “Yes.” Shut the door. Shakily, unscrewed the top and licked the bit of spilled drops from the floor. Chugged what felt like my own hot blood. It was a deep swallow and I shivered a little, tried not to vomit and let that first rush of obsolescence wash over me in a haze of dejected self preservation.  Stayed on that linoleum bed, cooling my sour veins, before I heard boots tapping to the door. Momentarily collapsing  and grateful for the nap, I remembered my whimper of a “yes.” I could feel myself slur a hold on and felt a minor pang of deep regret for this moment’s conception. And the future it would bring.

 I was staring at the tops of my fishnets. Large chunks were missing. My shoes were still on but one half of my stocking had rolled down to my low thigh, just above the knee. Stretched my calf  before I stood up to roll it up knowing it was fruitless. Stockings were made to be draped over the edge of the headboard,  not to be worn. I felt unsexy.  They fell down once I stood up. I felt fat again. Spine heavy, I checked my posture and used my sleeve to blot the burgundy from my mouth. My dress was black so it didn’t show. The mirror was smudged with handprints but my eyeliner looked ok.  I smiled so teeth showed. Clownish and primal: murder red gums like the lioness finally got her gazelle. I took a drink from the faucet and spit, watched the pink drool from my mouth hang idly in the air before I grabbed it, threw it in the sink. Rinsed my hand, mouth.  Wiped my hands on my skirt. Stood tall for a moment. I was bald and crooked.

“I should have bought gum.”

Crumbled, I lit a cigarette on the fire escape. He said I reminded him of Marla Singer. They always fetishized me that way.  He reminded me of most every guy I’ve ever known riding the erotic coattails of my self destruction never bothering to cultivate their own. Cowards they all were. It took courage to destroy your life.  He asked me to dinner, wanted to get to know me some.  I stood on my pedestal, looked down at him. My stockings were up and my eyes were unfocused. I was hungry for something more than this.  He wore a blue button up and muted identity, but also a permeating warmth.  I told him he would have to call me sometime, maybe we could work it out but

“ I might be going to jail on Thursday.” 

We listened to RJD2 and I explained
what it was like to take social welfare
(humiliating)
with some sort of redeeming abandon.
You were a Russian democrat
who made too much money. 
I made a fake come hither
face two more times
before crying and we
almost called it a day. 

“Spread your lips wider.” 

My nails were painted blue
to match my bruised knees.
I thought that was cute.

 I watch you with

marrow armor

 and

calculated patience.

You asked for it.

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