I put my headphones in.

begin to spin the happy thought
into years; of us.
your brusqueness
  it’s just one breath
syncopated with whatever song
I assign it like I walked
into a film set; replay a scene
of you coming back and
behind me, your mouth
hot with acrimony.
your hands rough in
both touch from the ungloved carpentry,
spackled with white paint
and the way
you take my waist.
I hum out loud.
the loop is what I have to
worry about.
the way you press your teeth
to me.
        it’s just one breath.

“the men”

 you never ask about my mornings
or daydreams; just
twirl the edge of your Merit
between your thumb
and pointer and
years of pleasurable
silence, 
  it’s just one breath
look at me with such
masked inconsequence,
cold front and
lick whatever sugar is stuck to
my teeth,

go back to your lighter.
go back to your preoccupations.
go back to your opinion
that my anarchy is the danger of the
couple, not your ability
to wrap your fist around a throat
without a safety word.

it’s rent I have to worry about.

III.

i’m counting tokens in a
donated tank top and barely
fitting jean shorts, everything about me
awkward and also sort of heavy in
the impassable space between states
I learned to love,
between beds I’ve been thrown on
and various seasons of us;
theorized or touched
whether it’s real or not,
irrelevant to the curve that’s forming
in my back as I hunch over the weight
of things I stuff in my bookbag
that I find on my walks out:
China set, forks, two new mini
skirts, pot holders neatly placed in
cardboard boxes on people’s
front porches and  I am,

crammed with charity,
stretched to my limit
and timorous.
I’m two miles to the El
with enough tokens to get me there
and back and enough money to pay
exactly
one phone bill,

one internet bill,
power and gas but we are still
working the rest out and
I feel drops forming at
the base of my
sweaty and salt-lined,
un-licked neck.
thats’s what I miss most.
the way a man curls behind you.
the way his curtness catches you.
it’s just one breath.

II.

this is how thoughts start
and then ten years go by
and you’re still spiraling
like you hadn’t found the answer
but really I just
had to make rent.
that was my first priority

and I think I may be a masochist
which could wait just
keep everything in some sort of order.
focus on the task.
the one thought as I open
the door to the mid-August heat,
89 degrees which is nothing compared to
the south that can swallow you whole
in one boiling breeze and I’m out of
my now near empty row home
that you cleaned almost all the way
out before you left
except the dirty armchair, old couch–
all the furniture found.
all the dishes donated.
everything I left come back,
everything kind of circuitous 

like my anfractuous spine
that stood straight once but
fractured under the weight
of this constant need to materialize
public ovation and actual groceries and
the ability to discern between a happy
thought and an actual hand to hold,
I become the reed reaching deep
but bent,
sinuous,
cracked.

“if you write the book,
no man will want you.”

I am twenty inches taller,
laughing openly,
I mean a real hearty
treat to the ear.
he’s floored.

“I’ve been single for seven years,”
is my first remark.

“and?”
we’re squared.
“what does that mean?”

If I stand, I may perpetuate
violence so I make sure to stay
my pretty painted ass
on the couch.

“IT MEANS I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT NO FUCKING MAN, MATE.”

but with an Australian accent.
for no reason.

I show up early to
make coffee,
drink coffee,
steal a couple pens
and a few donuts before the
meeting.
I’m here to look
good and watch people.

I am covered in
sweat by the time I sit down:
tan and thin from
the obsessive calorie cutting
that formed as a result of
penurious heritage,
bad timing,
mercurial interests.
I’m skinny and all
about it, wearing shirts that show
my sternum leaning hard
against the skin. that means
when I stand in front
of you, you can see the outline
of my bones.

I’m skinny cuz I’m hungry.
cuz I have been portioning
crackers. cuz I allow
myself only one piece of
bread a day.  once took a spoonful
of sprinkles in my mouth as a
treat and didn’t eat anything
else for hours.
I’m letting my clavicle
show, my shoulders bony
and in front of everyone,
glistening like olive marble.
hard.
I have two tokens in my pocket;
one to get home and
one to roam.
I cross my legs in front
of a blond haired boy,
take a sip of my seventh
cup of coffee,
someone begins
you are only
sick as your secrets.

I am 120 pounds and waning,
olive marble.

“August”

Part 4: The Act Of Chasing Things

“Jung ponders, “How can evil be integrated? There is only one possibility: to assimilate it, that is to say, raise it to the level of consciousness.”

********
************

“don’t be afraid to be this luminous
to be so bright
so empty the bullets pass right through you 
thinking they have found the sky 
as you reach down
press a hand in this blood-warm body
like a word being nailed to its meaning & lives.”
  –Ocean Vuong, Ode To Masturbation

you can shake your fist at any
foaming coast but her
break remains unscathed,
her scorn in
waves,
her calm in
tides,
wet snarls pacified in
moon-swept stages
depending on the time of month,
the climate or the
stage.

you are barefoot:
some pedestrian gesture of
worship.
shrine.
avoiding the shells and
ghost crabs that litter the beach
at gloaming.
you’re wild and roaming
again, seeking to slice wrists
with guilt and urgency,
pretension,
steal the scissors from his girlfriend’s
pocket.
                    what’s it like to be a hypnotist?
take a seat.
notice your veins rock,
glisten with munition.

life’s a seething blade
and you wear yours deep in your lungs.
the ways you have learned to assuage
are more permanent in placement
if you face it when you
say it.
write it on the page.
have them sing it with
vexation.
have them say it out loud and
curse themselves.

you watched your hands become tributes
to iniquity so you ask your feet
to become your fingers
now,
nothing from your mouth
going forward.
watch your toes curl in the sand
before you start wading.
you are practicing the dying art of
self-restraint.
you are practicing prayer, overdo
amends.
you are seeking a quiet rest
inside of  yourself.
you are seeking the
sudden wreck
that laid you.

 “king of cups” 

im writing a choose your own adventure fairy tale where unfortunately elements of the set may begin to come to life

**********

I am  walking behind three hooded women in some sort of cave. they are carrying torches so all I can see are the outlines of their bodies. I am not looking ahead of them. I am staring at the back of the woman on the left’s cloak when she turns around. they are all in black. they all look the same from behind. she says, you’re lucky, you know. but I couldn’t say anything. physically, I couldn’t move my mouth. the cavern opened to a well. the three women parted and walked around it but I couldn’t see them anymore. I walked closer to it. 

I wake up. I don’t know what time. I turn to the nightstand for my phone when I see her at the foot of my bed. cloaked, she is sitting on the floor, kind of leaning to the side. comfortable like she’s been there for a while and her eyes are green though I know it’s her. when she smiles, I know it’s her. she says

does she kill for you? does she kill for you? kind of hisses it. I can see the corner of her lifted aristocratic brow and her lips are painted a flame red. then she begins to stand.  pressing her arms into the mattress, I feel the weight of the bed move downward. I am not terrified but paralyzed. I can’t say anything. I remember feeling like I couldn’t say anything or move and in her full stance, she was much taller than I remembered. 

“Artemis”

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