you? you will know me by
the devil etched squarely on
my thigh and my ascetic
right arm twitching
for something to hold

“They don’t mean to cause offense, but it doesn’t occur to them that clarity of facts can ever be offensive.”

this next section is called: the snake.

the score was 7-5 when we saw the salamander and I gave them and extra point because I had never seen a salamander on the ground before. had watched them in the pond turning circles in the autumn morning light but here it wriggled over the leaves like a living gummy worm. a translucence to its skin that made me want to poke through it with a stick. both of us admitted later we were tempted to pop it into our mouth to chew its tiny legs like gum.  this one was bright orange like a fox or fire. it means fire and water. salamander does. that’s what I told them. not then but 

“(redacted)”

I was entranced by its movement when they said my name quietly. no one was there. you could yell if you wanted. first, I saw their face, foreboding. clear in its focus and delivery. I looked to the right and saw the lumbering outline. people say in crisis you cease thinking but you don’t. you have a million cogent thoughts a second that coalesce to

“don’t run.”

we had prepared for this because I made us prepare for this–going over a thousand times what would happen if it happened. turned and walk up the hill, brisk, no running. don’t run. a few steps up and my deep breathing began. they said they heard me when I started. I have a metronomic heart. we could time the seconds by the steady pulse if we ever wanted to. I remembered the years of hearing the run and the go right when you want to go left and rarely employing it. never making sense but always wafting around my encumbered head. there’s a lot of thoughts in times of stress. there’s a lot of thoughts in me at all times. its the opposite of what everyone says. crisis is instinct deployed and brain on overdrive but body–body is moved by a deep well of force. head is scrambled but legs almost swim. 

 for a split second I veer.  I saw the divet to the left and felt confused even though I had confidently turned when it popped in again: go right when you want to go left. heart bored against the bones looking for escape. my breath kept my feet on soil.my breath kept us straight. gmy breath kept me. nothing felt so airy as the top of the hill. nothing felt so good. that path was particularly dark and overcast and suddenly; sunny moments before we entered.   I remembered before I said it, right before I spoke to them again, I remembered the three webs I walked into at the beginning of the trail, exclaiming this is Arachne’s forest.

“they said it’s 8-8,” I began before turning around.  “we both get the bear.”

they said I said we’re ok now but I don’t remember that. I remember a shiver leaving my fingertips and

they said I said we’re ok now but I don’t remember that. I remember a shiver leaving my fingertips and asking to leave and like a snapshot– the large, lumbering black body walking towards us from thirty feet away, repeating.

 and I remember the cloak of gray sky pregnant with storm encasing me.

“#12 or Arachne’s Trail”

I am somewhere close to the edge and  the last thing to go is the fear of death. that’s the fifth. kind of a bonus is being labeled batshit.

the nodule in my throat. that was the first to go. showed up on a catscan then never appeared again. asked me if I had two throats.  but the first thing that happened was I choked. the second thing that happened were my legs went numb. the third was my breath being stuck and the steady rise of water. 3:13. that’s the formula we are looking for. the audience is buried beneath a lake of ice until I need them again. wait back up there’s no order here. 

ok, the first thing to go was my mind. sit on the carpet and thank god. the second thing to go was my throat full of acid. quite literally caustic. the third thing to go was my breath. the audience is six feet under a snow covered bank.get on with then.

but I snap back to the British voice in my head. I will tell it as I please. there are three things that happen in order and there are thirteen deaths I see. 

the visions, the cabin with MS or the reaction to adrenaline perhaps and the pandemic with the robberies, the police on the swat team aiming at me. the suicidal thoughts. the jail. the mental hospital. the women ganging up. the bridge and car accident. the bombing. or it’s gas this time. there’s a tornado. a hurricane and a flood. the music and the seizure. the waves. first i have a near death experience but there’s so many i can’t keep track, and there’s an alligator somewhere. 

wait, no there’s a snake somewhere. they said it would either be a snake or an alligator and so wait, there’s more. I guess. it’s kind of hard when you realize all the women in your life turned out to be snakes but they didn’t kill me so you start looking for the alligator just in case.

“13 stories: the woman who saw her own death”

I spent years
counting the silhouette
lines of my cell
on the wall
and twirling,
perfecting a
curtsy, repeating myself to
the bricks daily. 


wear a bullseye–
sheer blouse, the outline
of the areola glinting
from their truculent marks–
tongue-tip spit and a bite.
I’m invisible in doses

           when the maiden turns mother
but before that, I’m followed.


a car the other night and
the others on foot
yelling something about my legs.
           when the mother is hungry
tiny shorts cuz it’s August.
my massage therapist placed
his dick on my hand
(again).
tiny breaths.

                   any complaint from the woman

being forced to touch a cock
while im bent over puking;
that memory always comes back
second, and so does
being fucked without
“literally any consent.”
is the way I say it to him.
drunk.
tiny ruffle in covers
passed out in his bed.

                        any affirmation that doesn’t start with yes
                                      can no be an affirmation?
                                  yes,
                                        when it affirms your rejection of men

I have persistent, swallowed panic.
stomach problems.
the words histrionic
when I show any emotion.
inward disorder and
grief, heavy like 

my dad is dead.
my brother is dead.

my house is lined with crickets, asbestos
and mold so the pets all had
tumors.   squishy walls, broken trim
and no one will touch
the pipes.
my mom doesn’t remember the time we
watched the moon dance,
or the word for channel.

he wants to know I’m not faking it.
my first memory was me
being forced to try on outfits
for some guy 

until  he patted my day bed,
bent me over.
raped me.
he waves his hand
curtly and interrupts:
that’s why you’re so sexual.
as if I have never existed
without the shadow outline
of men surrounding me,
stone, corralling
and unresponsive
like bars to a cell. 

and don’t overthink
my outfits because
sometimes I wear head
to toe sweats,
bare face,
hair freshly bladed
so there’s nothing
to grab, to hold
to bend.

“Rage”

“we need not forever remain prisoners of our prescriptions.”

we think it’s a good
thing to be suddenly mad
at everyone,

rage just means
you’re alive.

“sekhmet”

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