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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“You came to twirling in a pool in a prom dress on ecstasy on saturday morning. We were past college. We were adults.”

 

The Red Book, or Men I’ve Fucked.

 

 

There’s no space or time,
only intensity,
and tame things,
have no immensity

—Mina lay

the theme this year is handmade
and hidden.

eat your chocolate-covered raspberries
and please,
try not to cry:
not in public,
and not in that dress.
not on this day.
wipe your sticky handprint
on a towel and throw it in the
hamper.
blot your glistening lipstick
on a tissue and make sure it
makes it to the wastebasket.
wipe the counters with lemon-scented
dish soap.
light a candle.
set the table.

embrace him when he enters.
he made those carob-coated kisses
from scratch.
you deserve this and
he deserves that.
you earned that swelling thing.
he earned that red ring around his finger and
his base
and that homemade batch of quick mix cupcakes;
the cardboard  leaks into the batter
but you mostly taste the crushing waste of
conversation, of
years together, of your
creativity misplaced.

today is priceless and
boy, you sure worked  hard at hiding those
resentments.
you should be rewarded.
wet your whistle with some low class
cognac.
show some teeth,
bat an eyelash.
give those big burgundy lips a big, juicy
smack.
make him yearn for those polished tips
climbing down his back;
sculpted to scoop frosting,
you let him taste the vanilla from your
index.
make him work the dishwasher for it.

but first make sure he swallows each
homemade mouthful;
gulps each morsel,
glazes his throat and everything that touches it
sticks.
he’s satisfied his girl can do this;
his girl can prove it.
wait til you hear his lips smack back.
boy, you sure look good in that apron
hovering over him, a domestic
giant and he looks so good
choking at  your ankles
tasting all your sprinkled
thumbtacks.

“valentine’s day”

you’re precarious, and I write a final
warning in the sky:
get out of this town.

but you want to show something off:
gather your pack,
skin some hides,
cross into this side of the hills.
yea, I’d risk swapping infections with you:
scarf down the whole town in an effort to escape
yourself, myself,
we both fuck and run
for fun,
but it seems I’ve been absconded
from my all male zoo, and
you salt my face with spit
when you tell me
you’re mine
and you’re snacking on my cheeks,
really laughing this time.
I’m yours for the slaughter,
wild elk for the taking.
besides, I’m the only one left
who doesn’t scream
when you chase me.

you’re a wolf.
I’m a swaddled baby
trapped in a cave,
I’ll prove it,
come taste me.
abandon your cloak,
the cover of trees
camouflaged in the leaves,
fur like bark
so I mark you on accident
with my sordid tongue pen.
I leave my initials everywhere I’ve
ever been.

come find me and
feed.
treat me like you need me
to survive this coming season.
step on my neck.
pull the skin from my teeth.
suck the moisture from my breath,
whisper:
home
as I bleat,
as I lay at your feet
and empty my guts on your
claws.

 

“from your secret admirer #19”

  (What if no one’s the killer & no ones the martyr?)

he always talked to me
like I was a word problem:
he furrowed his brow and
looked 100 years older than me
but didn’t leave any more
of an impression than that.
he was an egoist with a small penis
and he licked my face sometimes
when he finished.
that’s when I left

I thought about screwing the entire community
to get them off my fucking back
but the way you touch me
feels less tenuous,
spacious like breath,
like lungs rising from their skin cocoon,
a lot like late June
before the heat hangs us
with her relentless swarm
so I keep my gaze towards you.

we used to talk about my feelings a lot
but I could tell it bothered him
when I brought up the fear of pedophilia:
but you can’t tell some of them are 17:
not the way they move when they run,
shirts off, they could be
20
21.
I’m a creep too.
like a sale on day old bread:
fifty cents is not a lot
and  I just want it all.

he always said “interesting”
after everything I said.
I was a loony tune caught in the moon
pretending to love his censorious stature,
but really when we fucked
I just thought of those young men
arms wrapped around me,
tongues on my neck,
18 and over.

the more I remember
the more the whole thing seemed like a poorly written rough draft
and I just kept waiting for the twist,
the prize behind Door Number Three
that turned out to be a supernatural force that drove me
to contrived madness
and I just ended up feeling bad about everything I ever said
to them.

silence is astounding
and I filled it with talking spaces,
unfinished business.
he called my sadness “savage”
when I ate my own heart during the famine
but it was better than doing a rain dance
with our shriveled. cowering tongues out
and no gray in sight.

in my defense, judge,
I didn’t know the bitch was coming back
to dig up her brother.
those little siamese cats
what a bloody, noisy mess.
had I known that;
how loud it would be,
the squeal, the cry at the first
touch

I would have started by ripping
out the larynx.

“the hush”

i surrender.


deliver them back their most
prized possession:

the game wrapped in
flowers and stars and adjectives
to describe the way unresolve
fits into holes
and I step out of the arena.

what do you dream about?

 

8.

you’re something else.

something that can’t hang around
but also can’t spell
retreat without a
book being forced
in your face.

I’m a thesaurus, and I’m
suddenly panting
like an exiled Arabian
falling in love with every mirage
that promises water,
mouth as cup,
swift recompense for the previous harms
done by your
fathers.

we’re meeting in the middle
of a wide abyss that I picked,
and the first thing you want to
know is:
how did you get here,
and where do you really live?
and I want to know if you
brought any food and
why you ever let someone you don’t
know in.
you are unphased by the red veins
in the clouds, and the way they clap
black as my mood shifts,
the exes in my eyes,
the way the night moves out of my
way every time I step outside
to greet the twilight,
the portending moon,
and I am hoping we can
finally talk about the way it
felt when we left it up to
God.

just so you know,
I begin,
the greatest trick the devil ever played
was herself, and she’s the only one
listening to your
impetuous cries
tonight.

“the emergence”

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