I went from being a frozen tundra:
algid, wide and growing fields of ground to cover with
no visible tracks to follow

unless the wind was kind and left
the prints

but it wasn’t often.
taciturn but for some
icy speech and bleak; 
caustic prose in
squalling breezes that freeze
and stick to your cheeks,
harden               bite your tongue
in frostbit chomps so it takes a while before we completely cut those
meek coughs off

just as they start.
before they form into spit,
white noise, handwritten
cards,
I sprout into a raging sun:

precocious and blazing
hot, I become
a long bending desert to
warm you up:
fields of sand to cover,
infinite high noon run,
no moon to come,
hollowing the others with
deprivation,
 promising mirages,
a wide and weaving
ever-longing
desiccation,

sudden sidewinders and a
slow and draining
drip that never hits and
dehydration,

never an inch of rain and you
find every trap I laid.

I start by slaughtering your brothers
in front of you to see
if you can stand it.

“sekhmet”

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I have a piece of paper and
a dozen dead things wilted
in their vase.

there is a touch of red
sprinkled around the glass
that browns and sets as dry
on the sill in
my small uncurtained bedroom that
I pace
when I have too much on my
mind and today they
remind me
life is a patient rot
to tomb, a gauntlet and
fluid so I  better keep
moving.

life is a patient
gut to get to
wound     it was April
on Earth Day when I wrote
My Brother Is Dead
in the back of a notebook I would never
look at again.
it would be the thing thrown away
as I packed the car two years later
in December, in the frost of us and
in my big brown jacket that absorbed me in
synthetic down and
I’m twirling the stem of a
decaying feather
of a real dead sparrow in my jacket pocket,
the lyrids
are crowning across Colorado as
I am responding to
a nod, someone asking
was he your only brother?

as if that even mattered

yes, he was my only brother,
I hugged myself.
pinched the feather,
pinched the straw,
pinched the lining of leggings,
my inner thigh, below the knee and
every inch of skin
to keep me from vanishing
from the chair and
I feign a lot:
every feeling,

was he your only brother?
it is much easier to disappear
but the house moved with
me;  from
freeze to open
like an unattended mortuary
moved to resurrect itself
after years of
neglect and

did you know,
the bones given a soft
lick will sparkle
white  like fresh-caught
ivory and once it
feels the brush of
mouth will file
any joint to tip
with tooth
and gore the
things that touches
it, that holds it
near to chest or
safely in its palm?


as it shreds the flesh from
crown to feet,
someone says to me,

 

“with sincerest sympathy”

 

“if whatever you think comes true,
don’t let it go to your head,
and don’t forget to be humble.”

–waka poem

With a natural lethargy, she put her makeup on slowly elongating the whole process by several minutes. She wasn’t used to wearing it. Moving her neck like a snake upward from left to right, like she was wrapping it around a trunk or leg, she admired the stretch first, then the movement itself; hypnotic and quiet and binding. She stopped applying the powder to stare. Motionless, she admired herself head on. The blush she chose was dark; a shimmering burgundy that ran across her face and cheekbones in the shape of a bruise. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear examining the soft waves falling over her shoulders first as they moved, and then again as they settled. She wanted to see what she looked like as she approached; in stillness and in motion.


“That took too much time,” she said out loud.


Moving her head back and forth in a slow no gesture to see what she looked like disagreeing, she could feel and see the skin of her lips cracking. She eyed the chapstick on the shelf.  She wet her lips with her tongue. We must move on. There was nothing she did for anyone without motive and no one was around to touch them yet. Setting the bamboo brush on the sink, she ignored her dry mouth and her thirst, and picked up the mascara. Carefully, she applied the wand to the eyelashes of her left lid and then immediately stopped to examine herself again. Unbundled and free, her thoughts had been leaping ahead of her. It was distracting. They were being seized by something else; something distant, either imaginary or future she could never tell, but something tugging at her sleeve. Look behind you. She reached for the twisted, plastic straw from the sink’s ledge and began twirling it in her fingers on instinct.  Letting herself be overtaken by the fake memory; the fake way he held her, the fake way he smiled, the fake way it felt, she felt the rush in her chest.

“Stop it,” she barked at herself.


Staring at the mirror once more, she held her own gaze in trance.


“My name is Catarina Kacurek,” she practiced again.


She said it a couple more times until she was satisfied with the way it felt rolling off her tongue. Naturally. Nodding, she put the straw back on the ledge and began to apply the mascara to the right lid’s eyelashes. It’s always like this. She couldn’t see the clock in the bedroom and was thankful. I’m late, she knew. Taking her time anyway, she could still feel the electric bubble running up her spine to announce its arrival, announce its bones were growing over her bones into a grove of wands. I have things to do. She set the mascara neatly back in her makeup bag and pulled out the eyeliner. Dragging the skinny black pencil across the top of her left lid first, she felt a breeze, a draft from a hidden place to the left of her. What the fuck is this all for?


As she fawned herself, praising the way her eyes grew from small and doting to big and black and full of infirmity, she heard a car backfire somewhere in the distance. She placed the pencil on the sink and waited. Goosebumps trickled up both arms. In her spine, her bone grove of smoke and scream and sudden life, she felt it.


“My name is Catarina Kacurek. May I come in?” she practiced again, feeling the backfire of other every other thing.

I have a piece of paper and

a dozen dead things;
red and wilting in
their vase
to remind me
life is fluid
so I
better keep moving

but it doesn’t really
help
anything.

“with sympathy”

what is it that harms you most                and is insidious?

my persistent altruism
cloaked in gold,
I am
walked on like a golden
road.
First, are you our sort of a person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,
Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand
To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed
To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit——
Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.
Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start
But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.
It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.
–The applicant, Sylvia plath

I was so broke
and depressed.   sometimes I forget
that. it was the depression that was pinning me
to my apartment, keeping me locked there
keeping me imprisoned.
not my insecurity but a numbness that had me
making more terminable plans
with bathtubs
bu some small joy always carried me:

Alize,
always and

a used and discarded turquoise shelf
I found when I was out.
I hung it loosely on the wall,
without commitment and the wood
became immediately blackened by my incense cones.
the corners splintered and were
dripping rosary,
rarely dusted and topped with pictures
of my deceased:
Nana, Papa, Anselm Hollo,
other clients, friends I knew
in childhood and
unknown cousins,
guinea pigs,
first dog Pepper,
my first dead brother
or third dead uncle.
always drink or suicide,
something tragic when it comes
to my family but
I’m still here and
brave, I think.
in a few different ways
but I want cleansing

so I tear it from wall,
I’m stripping the floral siding
with my fingernails,
peeling the paint back to white
to present to you
a dusted start.
I wear black skirts with lace
lining for the cats,
rain boots when I go out,
drawn shades with a smirk,
and nothing when you come
about.

6.

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