in a constant state of transition
like wind,
a severity when charged
or something that merely

how I can be a mechanism
not always fit for ground.
when standing,
an unbearable pressure.
more reasonable in
flight, even in
vehemence, I begin.

I begin to weigh the scales:
what’s the probability
that illusion grows legs
or that imagination is laden
with foresight?
you see if I don’t begin to
think this way, I will
cross the bridge
and when my foot hits the
concrete, I want to
leap, arms spread.
it’s not about anyone coming
back. and to end the poem
graciously, i want you to 

feel the pins sticking out
of your eyes before you
taste the thumbtacks.
before you eat the cupcake,
I want you to sniff
the befouled wine.
before you get to
her house, I want
you to see the frog
and I want you to
remember to
(leap before you look)
pluck the nightshade.

consider me a drifting bubble;
felt in passing,
kind of gazed at,
sometimes solidifying
on an open palm
but mostly just
a pressure.
a violent
column and leaving
origami pigeons
full of acrimony
everywhere like I just
drip that.

“Saturn in Scorpio”

I do remember February,
always as the coldest month,
starts in January
with a little bird who keeps
following me begging to be
immortalized by signing
her full name with every
email she sent to me:
you’re a fucking whore and
you should kill yourself

but it really just continues
for two years.
I don’t know
what to tell you
like I am one to
waft, picking
daisies in a raincoat
or am I the one to
drop the deluge,
watch you stack
your mileage,
like men have not shivered
at my feet, ways I’ve kept
note of every tic.
I’m scorned like you,
witch but I didn’t send
you seven emails outlining
all my plans to ruin your
career with a link
to your business at the end.

they say revenge is a
dish served ice cold but it
can be hot too;
just sudden, blaring,
a surprise. I sign
every single one
like a curse or
a hex,
I can’t let go.


remember how you ranked
yourself, not top
but low and lowly,
begging for handcuffs
and then kind of seething
but with saccharine,
almost a tale you would
tell them as you were tied
down or arrested but
habits don’t change just
because we do.
there is an insidious nature
to mechanism. it has worked,
it simply cannot fail,
that’s what you told yourself

remember how cold
February can be?
you stay in a staid state
of assessment that lacks
any empathy but when
you sink,
you can feel the wilt of
nearby dogs,
your fingers half
in fur before your mind
has even greeted the owner,
you feel the dog’s skin
and smile, broken
by the thing.
you were contemplating
the ways in which
water-boarding feels
so necessary if you
actually have to force someone
to purge and
you can imagine places you could
use to get there having
felt so close to there before
and then
standing and
smiling to the man–
big and broad and sunny,
like you’ve never
thought a thing.

just wafting here,
picking daisies
in a raincoat.

“February pt 2”

before I moved to Boulder,
I developed a very good working
relationship with the Harris Teeter
in Ghent. I would do my local grocery shopping there,
pretty regularly, dividing my cart into half:
stealing that half and paying for the rest.
this is how people who have fifteen dollars
and a drinking problem live.
they neatly divide what is worth
paying for and what is worth ignoring,
letting go, stealing or conning.
when I moved to Boulder,
I developed a good working
relationship with the Whole Foods
but I cut my teeth stealing bike lights from
Target so that my partner and I
could go places at night.

I showed him how to pocket
toothpaste as mine was homemade
of bentonite clay and I am doting,
if not simply peacocking
about my bold chase of everything.
I showed him how to pocket the
Kombucha and show up to
meetings with it in hand like
it had no alcohol,
like I didn’t pocket the lip
gloss either.
when I moved to Philly,
I developed a good working
relationship with every Whole Foods
in the area.

I want to be remembered for the
ways I never died,
not for the ways my mouth
looked shut in meetings
every time an old white man
repeated an aphorism I have yet
to swallow: you are only as
sick as your secrets.

I want to be remembered as a
passing silhouette in your
night or the arms that
held you finally
so long as you know
my pockets are heavy
like chests.
so long as you
like little gifts
now and then.

suffering incursion will
change you. there are a thousand ways
to die, my head begins again.
nail in eye.
car to body.
man with fist.
I begin to count
and begin to twist the straw
in an effort to curb the brain
from going deeper, usually
the fixation begins from the most
likely place.
it was the end of February,
2014 and I lived in a rowhome
on the cusp of Port Richmond
and Kensington and knew two things:
cars don’t stop for anything here,
and neither do men.

I begin to count and organize and also
step into a dark long reverie
of a place that is warm and
seeking me, but I also begin to
count and create myth from fingers.
begin to list the ways I’ve watched the
Earth take: my aunt run over multiple
times, murdered. my eight year old cousin
died from a brain anuerysm. my uncle
shot his face off in his father’s
old house. my aunt drank her body to death.

you see I have to stop and enter
the beach seeking me.
you won’t make it otherwise
as I turn the headphones up,
just miss a truck but I can
hear the ATVS revving.
the sign says walk
but my aunt was once run over

it’s the coldest winter in years,
they tell me after meetings,
and it’s not an easy time to make friends.

“doors #2”

the art piece was
grotesque in its
simple presentation;
an ostentatious gift to
yourself as I fumbled
openly with decisions

and we moved right next to
a bar that was closed the
day I planned my relapse.
I wanted the burn of rum
mixed with lukewarm Coke.
maybe Mr. Boston’s.

it was a dark copper
and it stayed at the top of
the stairs.
I think I was under a deep dehydration.
I needed limits and
boundaries but I also needed to
tear the art piece off the wall
and file each side into a lithe
pocket knife that I could
wear around my neck
as a signal
of masculinity, but only I
I have taped one to each arm
as well and to each thigh,
and to each ankle
which is the joke about masculinity.
it’s supposed to contain
a dark wild feminine
but abhors any force.

the fourth wave is
more insidious.
I didn’t notice the change
at first but I did gaze up
at the top and wonder
what it’d be like to
leap to bottom step
and if you’d notice that first
or that a piece of
the sculpture was missing,
hidden somewhere else.

“the black book”

in Colorado,
his name was (redacted).
I am passing 3rd street unaware
of my hands withering,
clutching my phone.
another bad habit of mine,
not wearing gloves and never
placing my hands in
my jeans or coat pocket
or any warmth.
I’m always fiddling or
adjusting the volume.

he was very young and
wide eyed and used to doodle
through meetings,
watching the layers of people
shift in their seats, gathering
outlines with his pencil.
I would try to peek
to see how he made them and
who he most favored
knowing my cheekbones were perfect
but some things are more discreet and I
said hi to him only if I passed
him but mostly enjoyed the thrill
of picking a home group full
of freshman in college,
the perversion of me
unfolding like that,
so uninhibited in my quest
for sobriety and undivided

spreading my
legs in the chair
in my turtleneck dress and
brown tights betting they could
smell my fever from here.
three children catch me muttering
and smile.      they watch
my fingers curve around an object,
then divide as I tap each tip
with my thumb like
I’m counting.
they are thinking
I have secrets,
not that I am crazy
because children see parallel

one time,
he kept his eyes closed as everyone
in the circle shared.
when it was my turn, he popped
them back open and stared
the length of my story
like he had come here for this.
I was too confused to make
direct contact with him;
this being so flagrant
and sudden, I fluster
with bold advances
preferring to be the aggressor
not the pursued;
not the doe in the reticle
but the bear from behind.
I spent one whole year fantasizing
about him.

not lured by his youth
which makes him easy to command
but the way he was clearly taken
by me, his obvious insouciance,
and his right to be that way,
being only eighteen and
forced here to survive
among such alphas.
such witches with prowess
and skill and eight years
of drowning, emerging.

the children notice my
mouth moving as I walk down the
street, reviewing.
they all think I am writing about
them. I am writing about a cloud
I passed once.
cry cry cry and then
just start fucking laughing,
I say out loud
so the ten year old widens
her eyes
as she passes
not alarmed at the way
I keep touching things,
but the way I say fuck
in front of them so
unabashedly and in the
middle of the story like
we’d been talking this
whole time.

“xxx #1”

I learned to drift
young and
listened to my Papa’s
stories, my aunt’s stories,
the whole family telling stories
and I learned to joke
too. it’s about knowing
what people respond to
but also a dauntlessness.
everyone in my family
laughed big and loud,
smoking cigarettes sitting around
the picnic table,
a pretty red wood covered
with some tawdry pear-slathered
yellow and cream plastic cloth
made to absorb ketchup
and beer cans everywhere.
the empty ones there for butts.
and bottles of Coke in giant
two liters   their tan slender fingers
and the confidence of lighting up.
I perfected the flick of an ash
off the end of a burning cigarette
long before I held one.

it’s ninety percent the way
your neck looks when you’re listening
and ten percent what you say
when you finally move to
enter the game.
I learned to grift too.
there were many ways.
more about fun then–
just how to sneak out
at night to grab cigarettes
from the bowling alley cigarette
machine; a preposterous
thing but came in handy.
I would sometimes crawl out of
my bedroom window,
my bed right beneath it and
able to slide the screen right open
without breaking it,

it was easier then the back door.
I had to tiptoe.
we had thin walls.
I slept with my door shut,
pitch black and covered with
pillows scared of my closet.

sometimes we took beer from my friend’s
parents cooler,
or candy pocketed from 7-11
or lip gloss from Eckerd’s
or something from a man’s house,
anything really.
I liked to take photographs of them
and items of clothing to smell
before they leave me.
sometimes I would stare at the pictures
he left out on his dresser
suddenly. not sure if they were planted
or just forgotten as he
offered me a shot of tequila on
his barracks colored carpet;
that off-white every sailor had;
stained with Friday nights
and teenage vomit.
movie ticket stubs falling
out of my coat pocket.
I always took my shoes off
out of politeness even though
I could see the scrape of dirt
from welcome mat to
cot and today:

a picture of him and his wife
on the rocks on the coast
of San Diego,
a card she left him,
something in spanish.
I would listen to the CDs he played
on repeat to get over her, later
alone, more holding the sting
and the shattering way
it felt forced to be fucked
to music like that.
fascinated that grief can transcend
between two people, same song,
two different ways.
two different meanings.

where are you running to now?

I’m at Lehigh and 2nd
giving a man directions
to the 15 stop and he is asking
me where I am going.
I have no job or friends,.
but tons of antique wood
furniture and I kind of nod
to myself without answering him,
just keeping that buoyancy of
knowing that

acquiring objects is half the battle.
the other half is unearthing.

“walls #1”

what will you hold
in your old age?
me in the dark, feeling
the railing as I crawl
up the steps to my
king-sized bed
and the dogs that lie
there peacefully.

and feeling lucky:
the memory of a
southern thunderstorm;
it’s bristles of electricity
that made the hair stand up on
my forearms.

listen to the rain.
this house has no trinkets
but there are journals buried under
the floorboards and one
framed picture on the wall:
the four of us,
young  and laughing
like we had


“dementia #1”

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