I read a note out loud to myself:
everything that is really hard
is going to save your life
and a blackbird landed on the branch
outside my living room
window.
still, their eyes small and
sharp
waiting to dive,
waiting for the buzz of cicadas
to start again.

that reminds me,
I say in my head,
i’m emaciating.
I take a sip of water.
starved from the looking
without touching and
I want too much
has many meanings.
I read the words aloud again
and pour myself a thimble
of almonds.

i begin to charm him,
untie a ribbon from her
rib cage and kneel,
tie his wrists together
and lick his inner thigh.
someone asks
and then?

and then you become the
braced masochist
and I become
the looming hit.

“maelstrom”

It just started where it started, an ending. That’s how things usually spark: the motion of getting up from the table, lowered head so you only see the eyelid, the silencing of gesture and voice and argument. There’s nothing left to say. You remember that painted eyelid.

You remember the back of someone; black slicker, lined in polyester, practical, utilitarian, good for rain and snow and gray, cold days and you remember it because it represents the deepest part of them; their practicality and planning.  Pragmatic even in display, they were fact-based, ruled by thought and precise in many ways. Always wearing sneakers. Always wearing layers. You remember the interminable door slamming shut as your hand flies off the knob and you leave her sitting there, not stunned or surprised but gently mourning in the capsize.

“Would you say I’m frank?” she asked me.

That uneven smile and eyebrow and posture. Her constant vacillation between sainthood and possession that she spit at me in fragments, expected me to consume it, volley back, hold it, remember, care.
“Yes.”
.I’ll remember her inquisitiveness and quiet generosity where no one saw and with no explanation, I saw, a life she tried to save. She will remember me by my one-word answers and the canyon they tried to fill. But I didn’t expect to see her like that.
“Do you believe everything I say?”

The room was full when I walked in, quiet. Because I was late, she ushered me in and told me to keep my voice down. I had expected to be turned away but this was my second visit and I meant well, didn’t I? I had just started this treatment to help me with my insomnia, help me wind down in the evening, help me sleep. Life was ok. I had dreams and hidden feelings and pictures. Still had a pocket of violets and a row of soothsayers following me.

“Yes.”

They were all women there and oddly, all had the same short hair, the same fall comfort clothes, just hoodies and jeans and sneakers but I saw her first. There was no need to scan.  She wasn’t wearing a hat or anything to cover her hair and I realized it was the first time I really saw her; head twisted only slightly away from me but mostly straight and supported by the chair, needles sticking out of her jawline. Eucalyptus filled the room, hints of lavender, low light and is this what it always meant, the next time we are forced to face it there will be no defense between us. I read there will be light.  I read the word befallen. Sometimes I practiced dictation too: moved by a carelessness but hoarding when the nymph is gone, still enraptured by the sight. She was long, lean, her collarbone jutted out from underneath a very thin striped sweater that favored her.  It was kind of how I remembered: unembellished and ordinary but shining in its plainness. She wore no jewelry. She was taller than I expected, thinner too, and simple, not like a beige wallpaper or some other muted adornment but something bigger even in the background. Her cheekbones were high. Her clavicle jutted and she was paling but olive, not milk white, not quite tan, Her neck long as I imagined. Her breathing slow and she looked content to be there. It felt like I was suddenly invading.

Not plain, no, and not ordinary just a spectacle in its honesty. Maybe it’s brave that shows, triumph, skill survives like a Renaissance portrait that lasts decades in the museum for its representation of the time; the light the artist was able to paint into the picture peeking from the corner, dull blues and grays and a very fine wine-burgundy. It’s a dark painting but it lights up the room; no sun just that one light in the corner. You pass it and you pause every time. Analytics and video tapes demand it stays in that museum. Mostly black with a few people looking up, following the cloud.  You’re admiring what they were– the vividness of the devil’s outline, black against black. It’s all you can see.

A smile began in the corner of her mouth and she stretched her fingers.  I saw nothing in her hands. Her nails were long and red and her jeans had holes in them. She held nothing in her hands eyes shut, the mouth falling slightly open, relaxing.  I didn’t look at her feet as I turned away. What an incredible yearning for loss we face. If only to stay there that day of passing her without a word, head down only to turn around to watch her turning around too and later demanding explanation.  Leaving, if only to stay enveloped in the sight of her resting with needles poking out all over her face, her neck, her jaw, her wrists. To stay in winter, in our coats, watching the Earth break into a rift and separate cliffs so all you hear are echoes. A heavy yes falling to the bottom. The portrait of the townspeople hurried to the shadow, gawked at by millions a year, never removed for its classic parable. Not a glittering, but a dimness yet the center of the room. Beware of what you seek for it is seeking you.

Just say yes and step into the consequence.

this is fresh.

like when my cat’s claw gets stuck
in my fingertip or when I
bump my elbow on the armoire
he let me keep.

things only last for seconds unless
they are eternal like
God’s choir,
mass extinction,
our howls like bells
like doom
like fate.

 

I try to tell too many
that this has happened before but
never with the same
patterning; the cavern
patience that’s filled with
liminality   me in the
tub and dreaming.
I have no fear of the color
hazel or unmade beds
or the way you let your fingertip
trace my thigh’s Baphomet
as you turn to me
and say 

this will never end.

 

I bet you never say a word.
I’ll grow to equatorial proportions
and bellow.
I have no fear of
mirrors, men,
mirages or monsters.
I have no fear of depth.
I have no fear of flight
or landing, heat
or frozen streams.
those talons.
those waves.
those headlights.
I have no fear of death.

you? you will know me
by my sudden strength:
silence and never seen
again the same way.


“the red book (revisited)”

she talked to me all day
in riddles and I welcomed
her gentle incursion,
the way she enunciated certain
things and said y’all
and quite frankly charmed
while armed    broke men with a
chain or a flash of knee
or surreptitious motive
and I held steady
with one open eye
and crossed arms
and no plan to move
in either direction
when she asked if I still
favored her.

not a single person in this town
knew her and not many
elsewhere.
if it were up to her,
she said,
she’d disappear without a trace
into the ocean
or a foreign life
leaving a legacy of
riddles and ghosts that
favored her but not one
in a bed, or
several chained in a
yard not able
to break through the
bushes to door.
yes, I still favor you.

wore a veil,
wore a shrouded smirk and
moved wide but
never wanted anyone to
recognize her face.
in the sun,
became a mist
wafting wearily
through rows of houses,
blocks and noting
trash, and noting straws,
noting needles,
and a penchant for
heart.
in the dark,
a trace of flame
from distant candle but
never here.
still,

ok, howl.
if you placed her in a cage
full of rocks and
sunk her to the bottom of
the mariana trench with enough oxygen
to last her the swim back up,
she’d find every school,
hold the middle,
let the sides be eaten in
her disguise,
ride their backs back up,
wash up on a dolphin
at your feet, half dead,
blue, freezing and with an unctuous
grin just to prove
you still favor her.

“Saturn in Scorpio” or “how guys save me in their phone, reversed”

Without any warning, she turned to walk away. Her friends followed suit. I heard the cracking of bones in the distance. If I could smell blood like them, I would have. It was everywhere. Congestion, fatigue, general shutting down–I couldn’t smell anything and I was freezing, slowly freezing, slowly twirling in a net, slowly turning to face her body, to face them walking away.

The two ripped her limbs off delicately and two more had joined them. One looked over at me curiously, but with no commitment to leaving what they had found. All alphas. I know how this was going to go. I had spent my entire life watching kills for fun, watching my cats trap mice under the oven, bring half dead rabbits to the door, and the way a packs forms like a swarm.

“We have to kill them.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
She raised a palm to the bark.
“Oh, god, ok, with your hand?”
Admittedly, I looked down but then back up to see her smash the lantern fly against the bark, one after the other. All five.
“Ok, savage, yeah,” Rayne stepped away.
“Someone has to do it,” Salome was bent over near one that had fallen, inspecting it and then squishing it with the ball of her hand.

I was watching, unable to contribute, unable to picture myself face to face with an actual plague of insects so pretty as these mysterious asian flies that had besieged our trees.  Earlier in the hike, I had been taken by a discarded web only to notice the sap dripping from a cut near the bottom. I ran my finger across to feel the moisture. The tree had already uprooted itself due to storm. If only they would seek the fallen trees to suck but why suck something dead and fallen when a growing sumptuous oak is nearby? I twirled there with those women unable to commit to violence watching it become committed towards me.

When the fifth one came, she trotted right past the body, right towards me. This is where the divide begins between alpha and beta so the betas were coming next. She was playful, the comic relief of the pack; black and gray and smiling. Running and smiling and even though everything was blurred from tears that never broke and the sting of chill that hit me with or without wind, I could see her drooling. I had stopped moving awaiting the dog’s arrival.

“I stepped on a lantern fly today. I am not feeling great about it,” I texted the group.
I looked down at the body somewhere between Dickinson and Reed and it was smashed flat into the concrete and I was desolate and growing more abyss than sun every day. Yet, it still took something deep from me to step on it.
“Spotted lantern flies jump more than they fly,”  she informed the group.
I saw the light change in my periphery before I heard the ding.
“The trees thank you,” was her reply.

The black wolf was right under me, looking up. My cheek was probably going to freeze to the rope, I don’t know, but my face was smushed against it and I was curled in an upside down fetal position so I could see everything as long as I faced it, but not if the wind, a sadist, a wolf, or a breaking branch moved me. Or God. What I did I wish for? What did I seek? She had asked me. A chance or long sleep.  Very gently, the black dog stood on its hind legs so it’s front paws touched the bottom of the net and pushed. I twirled effortlessly in the air like that as the wolf watched. Listening only to my heartbeat, which was slowing, and the creaking of the branch, which was louder than the bones breaking or the distant snarl of the two wolves that had fought over my friends calf muscle. The wolf watched like that and myself, a watcher, understood the game.  

I wasn’t sure what the plan was. I was waiting to pass out and I regretted immediately letting the green eyed witch leave my sight but I also understood I was not in control. What I hoped was that, I would freeze to death first and then they would rip me to shreds. What I realized now is that they were trying to get the branch to break to get to me more easily. It wasn’t as easy to pick me apart through the rope, six feet above. Tall, strong, but still spent from the hunt and people say wolves only kill people in folklore and myth, but here we are, the scrape of his claws leaving traces of terror all over my lower back.

“I have no future plans,” I began calmly.
      I am arms outstretched
walking nowhere but with
ardency so
I am labeled,
whimisical and manic
like a wound up
fairy, the character that
keeps the music box

spinning
that leapt from its
little gold coiled post
sprinkling glitter,
growing nerves and
ankles that bend flat
to walk to run to
crawl

people like me because I have no plans,
am honest about it, and
have wings that carry weapons.    I
hear in a distance
  someone repeat it

I use intimidation as a tactic to seize opportunity


Well, I also use black magic

“seven of cups”

I drove through
all of middle Earth
to get here;
to lean into the sharp points
of middle hurts.
in true poet’s parlance,

 I am rehearsed,
death, reverberating.
nothing but
kamikaze and the
soot palms that steer it,
practice typeface.
I smile to show you
some white.
I’ve got my cat suit on:

solid shoulders, strong,
curved back and a heavy head
that is full
      a blue cracking
heart to match.
I say where?
and you say
nothing.
smile to show you
my canines.
I come over wearing
everything I own:

a pack that stalks
and stays together in lunge,
a freshly oil-stoned
suit of knives and
the bled-dry opaline
home that I nest in,
my cozy coronation robe:
my clanking vest that
announces my arrival to
your home.

it is me
wreathed in
all my men’s
bones.

“Hecate” or “the red book”

I believe in wormwood,
dried root,
my brother’s ashes
in a silver heart or
a ceramic urn
locked in vase
locked in mirrored chest;
a chant, a poem.
datura when the time
is right.

sometimes I do ceremony,
sometimes I just let things pass.
we do that for others,
carry our grief quietly,
bury things deep
within ourselves.
but sometimes in a fit,
I spill over.
tell you everything.

you said
I like to swim
so I am braised with razor;
become a carnation lake
at your feet and
you said rain–
I like gardens.
so I condensed and
waited to show off my new arms
lined in fresh alyssum.
my cycle     I always meet them in
winter
where my only
light is moon.
my flowers blossom
under the chilled night,
drip a dark nectar and
I am thirsty and
you already know–
I believe in
altar.

I believe in overflowing
chalice.  you believe in
holding space for growl,
holding me with
distance.
you watch me lay the
dill in bowl, line the bed
with tourmaline.
run the bath with
chamomile and yarrow.
I am full of tincture now.
I can move like a jaguar:
slow and black and
hungry.
I am hard to see that way.
you said
I am game.

you’ve been watching
jaguars move,
you’ve been memorizing motion,
I drape myself in constellation
so you can better see me,
storm so you can better feel
me and I traipse across the forest
floor waiting to be found.
my tonsils growing
chelicerae,
my rib cage growing legs,
my bottom becoming fat
with thread and
I know what you like
and I know that
you are game.

you are writhing
game in tiny, tiny
snowflake threads
hung far above the
ground.
 switch places
I become the woods
encircling your howl.
you become the kicking,
breaking patch,
the river marked
by footprints, then
lost, then drowned.

in winter
it is long and dark
and hard to contain
myself
gorged with nectar
hidden by
the wind.
sometimes we do that for
others: hide our
spines.
you watch me prey;
sip the drip of
the effulgent crescent
bulb I worship.
you become the shivering
deer, caught fly,
gutted bunny hooked in

jaw.

I become the
scorned red bath,
the woods,
the bottom.

 

“datura moon”

“Strength does not have to be belligerent
and loud.”

I derive so much from one word.
pull from it.
it’s the synchronicity that
binds me and
the license plate that careened into the pole
instead of me that night read
“ prisons” and
I knew instinctively how
he felt.
tonight I’ll do:

a spring equinox meditation.
brush my teeth.
cut grapefruit for the morning
and ride the waiting out.
pay homage to my Pluto
and my Pisces in the
eight inning.
my Venus nestled in her
vindication, her frequent
illicit engagements kept dark
in that dusty
twelfth house,
but she found a clean mirror and
she is undoing her braids.

i’m becoming a panacea of my own:
memory, tincture, flowers everywhere,
the fuss of first love never leading anywhere but
here in another meditation
on the river walk.
draw my poems out of the older sutures:
undo, redress, pamper the wounds .
think about it.
send you a letter.
remember the way grief sits,
unsettled, right after dusk,
right under your chest,
right under your breath:
a blue river from your fingers.
send you that letter
with my wounds
pasted
 in the margins.

reminding you to
think about it

pay homage to your Venus.
she is out
casting cars into ditches
while you cautiously wait
for lights to

change.
you are holding selenite
in your pocket
but your fingers still
curve and you are still
smirking,
standing where they
are now
sitting and
wilting

in screams,
it was the way you asked
in a bit of a curtsy:
one more chance 

but you snap.
and they lose their

breath just like that.

“prisons” or “Venus in the 12th House”
or

“how guys save me in their phone”

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