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”

I took myself
to the welfare office,
not even getting lost as
I’m prone to do.
          why can’t you just figure it out?
I live right down the street.

my shorts are stuck to my thighs,
and my neck is drenched.
I wipe my forehead with my hand
to her disgust.
“It’s unseasonably warm for June”
I begin and elucidate the drawl,
smile to beg for my Access card back
but here comes the recalcitrance;
she asks me for something
I don’t have and I
smacked my lips the wrong way
so I snacked on my servility
inch by inch as I
inched my way
back to “our place.”

months later,
I lose a diamond necklace there.
there is nothing more satisfying
than losing things or
shaving my head or
throwing away the clunky pepper
spray that women wraithed into chains
and hung from their hips
as if fear and trepidation
and weaponry have
ever kept me safe.
someone told me failure is perspective
but all I see are cops
pinching women with latex gloves
and all the little shrubs
that line the block look like
workers shaking their heads at me
      leave
or,

get on with then.
I am  throwing coffee grounds
into a leaky cardboard box,
our first CD is scratched  and
on top.
I’m on a bed that lifts
with one giant sigh
and no top sheet and
no frame.
they said risk meant courage
and I say you fucking
left me here
into your voicemail.

I’m eating sprinkles with a spoon
in a freshly inherited
two story townhouse.
It’s the sixth of June
so I got weeks to make
next rent.

“grace”

remember how you ranked
yourself: not top
but low and lowly,
seething. beguiling
with your rueful moan
repeating
your endless epoch of dystopian
psychosis that started the minute
someone said hello.
you swear; this
tale you would
tell them as you were tied
down or arrested, and
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
(I want the daydream gone)
and 


remember how cold
February can be?
you in a staid state
of assessment that lacks
any empathy; you’re
in nine places if you’re any less
than three and recalcitrant,
turned inward so you
bark at the shades,
slice at the lines of your
hands when dusk hits.
mistake things for sirens,
police yourself scourging,
marks on your legs, your
forearms.

but when you sink,
you can feel the tongues of
nearby dogs,
your fingers half
in fur before your mind
has even greeted the owner,
feel the pup’s skin
and smile; broken
by the thing.
you were just  contemplating
the ways in which
water-boarding is
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 rocking there,
picking daisies
in a raincoat.

It’s May and
you’re alone.

“February/February/May”

I love fighting.
brawling.
drawing out the syntax,
collecting arguments,
theory, obsessed
with subjective motive,
inarguable objectivity.
formulas and how
2:2 is not as pretty as
3:3 and how it is quite possible
to roll doubles four times
in a row if you just kind
of think that way.
the predilections of
others and how they
mount them,
ride them.

I am rehearsing smiling
in the mirror.
this is how i go on dates:
1. remind myself to behave.
remember an old flame’s advice:
just be normal,
someone else’s version of
normal, not yours.

2. take drugs.
3. see what happens in between.
with you, i made a pact.
be warm. be warm. be warm. be warm. be warm. be warm.

I am practicing standing still,
waiting, I fidget like
that,
fingers in the dirt,
scoop a stick,
watch a bug,
ask questions,
try not to play with
the straw. deep
breaths. don’t look
at the numbers,
don’t talk about death.
big smile!


and hug people
right when they walk
in the room.

“Honey”

I’ve strained everything I’ve ever
owned in my life
including my eyes
so I can’t see
your car is gone,
the way life unfolds
without interference,
or the ant hill I just stepped on.
your sad smile when I
didn’t notice the grinning
contingency roses;
contingent on whether or not
you decided to start shit.

the boxes in the corner,
cat’s nascent urinary problems,
the missing incense holder,
empty toilet paper roll,
your mordant note, or
the last piece of vegan toffee.
the ants plotting their revenge
in the corner,
the forgotten ice cube on the floor,
your wilting gray shoulders
as you slump into the green plush
armchair you detested
that I brought home,
cat vomit somewhere in the cushion.
your face down in study materials
as if I am brick
or limpid fume, a
backdrop to this impulse
and you can’t hear my muffled feelings
about where our
stuff should go.
        (back to Boulder)
I can’t see

the sunset in the distance,
self-will run riot,
God’s sweeping fingers,
or further than my
remarkably dry nose turned back at
you; yesterday wet with
the tears from your verbal incision,
now clear, i’m numb.
my scrawny legs hanging off the
coffee table quoting McCarthy
to turn you on:
“nobody wants to be here
and nobody wants to leave.”

“the canopy”

you are hiding your scoliosis
in poses, grown
restive inside.
you have high heels on
and are menstruating
plainly
despite him.
stop trying to 

make love to the camera,
just act normal
but also like you
just discovered aging
and you are a prison
of adjustable skin. 
look surprised by time.
and could you do it akimbo,
but
only with your hip bend
and your eyes?

I am a red flour beetle
but less menacing
and standing
in a half pirouette
remembering to also
tuck my waist inside my
breath.
and do it just with my hip
bend and my
eyes
yesss
but

I need to see just the nipple,
so pull your shirt that way.
don’t look at it,
look at me.
chin up,
legs crossed,
bow-legged,
let’s imply something here;
don’t give the milk away.
(laughter from one side).
and don’t grin, it makes you look
desperate.
can you think of the most traumatic thing
that ever happened between you and
your best friend’s father?
sometimes a flash goes off
near my left eyelid.
try to cry,
or at least make the motions of crying,
but then right before it hits–
stop.
call it a female orgasm.
sometimes both go off.

I am doing it with microscopic
eyebrow gestures and
no pants remembering
to arch my back.
MUCH better,
he speaks to me
this way, emphasizing
my tiny victories.
but now do it with just your
breasts
but also,
don’t smile.

your teeth are off-white
and unmatched.
and uncross those legs.
can you turn to one side?
I need a shadow that traces
your buttox to tits
and then  to vagina
but I don’t want
anything else in the shot.
great.
he speaks loudly
with emphasis on
certain words like
put your PUSSY out.
hips swiveled.
head down.
lips shut.
I am in akimbo
with just my hips and
eyes putting my

PUSSY out.
and that’s tiiiime.
I am hopping off the carton
and shivering
from the fan and
the sensation of throb
propels me to take the
envelope from his hand
as my ankles are
cut from the straps
of the boots and
truthfully,
everything hurts
yessss 

cool.
i’ll call this one
hunger,
(laughter from one side).
he is staring at a screen
and I am expressionless,
or not here.
they feel so close.
i’ll pay you a little more
next time.
you can walk, right?
I can’t drive you after all,
my wife just texted me.
be careful.
he tosses that.
and you really should see a dentist
about that front tooth.

I am nodding,
dispossessed but
not evicted yet.

“Happy International Women’s Day 3/8/2014”

I got a nine millimeter, I say,
casually, waving my hand over the wooden
board. hidden in this house.
I got this house lined with weapons
since the first warning.

I place the orange butcher knife
on the linoleum counter,
scraps of tomato still clinging so
I can
scoop the slug up from beneath the
dishwasher and put him
back in the shade.
he follows me out.
we are both easily distracted.

we were having vegan charcuterie
and he is drinking chardonnay.
with me it’s always
something, plentiful,
homemade.
he’s seen half my knife collection
now and every inked guard;
the other half tucked in various places.
I gestured to the antique table,
to the pepper spray,
the hammer by the door.
I point out the ants
lining the sink.

swathed with charms,
I can’t kill a thing
and half the town has figured it out.
I wear my arms in
muscle, others’ biceps.
keep them around cuz
I can’t kill a thing
and half the town has figured
it out. point to the baseball bat.
show him my pearly growl.
this is where the poem begins

we both eye the slug moving
through the garden
til he disappears.
I begin pointing out
webs.
it’s 7:42 pm,
88 degrees and
the sun is out,
my shoulders dark.
we are both tan,
hurt, a possible onslaught
if we were not otherwise
stuffed and I am practicing

silence,
sitting on my bench.
we are two inches from each
other and I can’t help but
melt when the cool breath
hits my left cheek.
I’m plucking at the hem.
he grabs my hand
to stop my ticking.
what’s that?
he says.

this is where the poem begins.

“doors #9”

 I know I’ll always be ok.
by purpose, my name
will be forgotten. my real name.
I am thinking back.
if you can’t keep up,
this is winter 2014. but it is also
winter 2017.
it is also spring and
summer 2020.

the day I arrived in the hotel
in the financial district of New York
to meet a Russian photographer
who promised me a night in an expensive
suite and a binding contract
that has been violated over time
without my awareness,
my nails were painted
blue to match my
bruised knees.
spread more, all the
way.
I thought that was
cute. 

he gave me a fishnet
black onesie I ripped a hole
in but wear on dates
to remember us by.
and even though
he took advantage of me
and you felt betrayed
by some unshaved labial
part of me,
I made my half of rent
for once.
in the car from the bus
stop on my smile
spread and the bickering
couldn’t dissuade
the new confidence.
the way cash feels
sizeable in an envelope.
ok, chill.
fuck, 

I got rent, right?

“doors (#7)”

carried little pieces of God
everywhere;
got a pint sized celestite
I broke off and now
twirled in my fingers.

I am surrounded by men
who are wolfish in detonation
but repenting for a lifetime
of substance abuse
so we nod when they say
things that are aptly
reflected instances in which
they felt a guilt greater
than themselves.
they usually begin with things
like
I took advantage of her
and I cross my legs.

I am wearing brown tights, brown
heeled boots and a cream turtleneck
sweater dress.  my hair is
short, uncombed and strange
and I am mostly plain.
I wear light blush, mascara and
chapstick but I don’t spend all
day about it.
it is important as a woman
to catalogue what you were wearing
and how you generally look
in any moment.
also I had gained some weight
first, before I  discovered that
counting beans will gain you
phone bill money.
when you tell the audience the story
they can gauge reaction better.
were you homely, girl?

I was neither homely nor
exceptional,
merely watching the blue chips
of nail polish flake onto
the floor as he spoke
about his trespasses
against women,
finding my hands to be urgent
suddenly.

 “doors #6”

the second one I called
was Hecate.

I am on the floor
in the stained glass
room with the brown carpet
and the yellow walls
and the paper flowers:
bright orange, white, red,
dusty and a sprinkle of
musk from the places
I shoved them and my
dripping skin;
eighty eight degree body
flailing impetuously
flattening them.

I am flipping over index cards.
the coral & lime sheet is lined
with shells, some broken
and rocks, pieces of concrete I
remember picking up in Maryland
when I saw the perfect house.
a ceramic lemon bowl is full
of dirt from the catacombs,
a burned scripture,
red jasper.
my fingers digging
at the bottom,
tips filthy,
jagged, can
cut.

today we are reading up until
we are forced to stop:
is not easily angered
which means I have gotten
past does not envy
but I have not gotten
past temper,
or
I am indeed a wrathful
cunt so
the second one I called
was Hecate:
have purpose,
a patent resolve.

and I always pause to look
in the mirror,
not unsure. just a
tremor. old reflex
to watch my eyes change.
part my hair,
look past something;
my facile understanding
of this and
my dolorous step.

we break men.

crushing debris
between my fingers
into a nanoscopic
form settling
permanently on my
floor or carried
everywhere
I go on my soles.

“the incantations”

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