I get nothing done.
they kind of smile,
don’t believe me
but I amounted to nothing

I show them
sweeping my hand over
an obscured history,
really erased but also
no real success
I laugh, undaunted
usually and also kinda
breezy. I like smiling
and they like watching it.
composition open
pointing to one sentence
I like watching time.

I’m obsessed with unproducing,
or burning a process as you
watch it unfurl. it’s like
setting the bottom of each trunk
on slow fire and then you
climb to the top of
a pine watching it
engulf you, eviscerate
whatever you were.
I am up by dawn, or close
to it,  thinking this is what
true love is doing
and I’ve done this before;
proving habit,
and the deep deep
null of feeling
that I really possess
daily filled with
plotting and idle time,
idols and
a rumination of these
invidious encounters.
my ability to rectify.
something always in my hand.
something always tinctured;

distilling and then
wanting you to see it:
my nullness and
overreaction and courting
that must be
facade or instinct or
vexing but
mold it into something
better than the ice cold
well I am.
palms open with pleas.
that’s where people fall.


in the snow bank
in the bottom of the frozen
hole trying to help
the little
girl.
I think a lot,
I say softly.
we are two inches from the
other and I must admit,
I flutter when brushed.
and I like learning
words.
point to one
as he leans in.

what’s the meaning? he
says thumb pressed firmly
at the bottom of my buttox
til the mark sets in,
not clarifying if he means
the definition or
whatever we are touching.

“duplicity”

You couldn’t hear them move over the forest floor.  The snow was fresh and soft like powder. Each step left an imprint but no resounding echo. You could only hear their breathing. You could not hear their steps.

Algid and windless, the day smacked without breeze. It used its atmosphere like a cave of teeth biting you on the cheek, or on the wrist if your glove slipped down. Your neck if it had become exposed. They had no choice but to walk through. The tension combined with the dropping temperature and lack of water, snack or any sense of direction; how does one not go mad with fury? It was the middle of January, seventeen degrees and she felt it.

Hardly any birds circled so they were mostly trapped in the infinite stillness of the woods and the remnants of a harsh blizzard that slowed them.

 

“It’s the eye of the storm.”

“Okkkk….but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming back.”

“It’s not,” she texted.

She bet her friend didn’t check her weather app. She bet her friend didn’t question her. She bet her friend trusted her to lead.

“Watch, I bet we get the yellow car,” she said to her friend the day they stood in line at the amusement park.

 

It was hot then, shining, blissful. They had eaten nothing but sugar. They were waiting to go to the final water ride of the day, spent, thirsty, aging yet jubilant. The trams were in no particular order, randomized, and every time they waited, she guessed.

“ I guess with about a 98.4% accuracy.”

Leana laughed loudly next to a woman’s ear, so loudly she shot them a look only Cat saw.

“Yeah, ok.”

“What? I have been right every time.”

“That’s 100% though.”

Catarina tapped her thigh to keep the time as they stood.

“Well, you can’t be right every time.”

“True,” Leana said, sort of smirking, half engaged, half stuck in her own secret fixation.

Catarina kept her hands free of the straw most of that day, preferring to play with the strap of her bag or the cap of her aluminum water bottle. She tapped her thigh only in line sometimes. They were engaged off and on but paused when it happened.

“Did I tell you about the time I drove my car into the car dealership?” Leana suddenly said.

“What?! Tell me now.”

But the train was rolling in.  Both women’s eyes widened as the big yellow tram rolled up. Cat smiled the biggest and threw a look behind her exposing all of her teeth.

“Now, you trust my psychic ability?”

Everything was hiding.  The snow had ceased but every once in a while a tree shook when a bird perched and a big clump fell startling them. They would both look up, unspeaking and resentful and a growing worry between them. The cold was a barrier. The distance was a barrier. The unsettling feeling that this was not going to end was a barrier They heard a crow call a few hours ago; at least three or four hours ago. They hadn’t spoken since she looked up and said,

“It must be noon.”

Her friend didn’t question it or speak to her.  Cat turned slightly to check on her. Her breathing was labored. Her cheeks were bright pink and dotted with tiny drops of ice. Leana’s face was pallid, stinging, her endurance waning and their breath came out in synchronized huffs.Together, they marched but separate, each in their own quiet obsession.  Catarina was counting hours. Catarina was reviewing lists. Catarina had practiced this walk, had a deep resolve, a spine made of knife and her knees were going to buckle but she knew what adrenaline can do. She drew hearts on her hand with each passing hour. The only time she pulled down the glove. Pockets devoid of cell phones, only a sharpie and some protein bars, there was no cell service here. She had advised Leana to keep her cell phone in the car so she didn’t lose it. Pliant for show only, Cat reassured her.

“I have a metronomic heart, you know. I can always tell the time”

Leana trudged behind her, adjusting her parka and getting ready for the first small incline.

“Cat..”

This was hours ago, when they were friends. She turned, bright, dawning, her auspicious eight am self: well fed, hydrated, head covered but face still exposed. She smiled to show her teeth.

“You’re full of shit.”

All they saw were endless groves of bare trees dotted with sparse patches of evergreens; a brightening to the dense forest of trunks. An interminable white crystal blanket to cross kept them moving, reserved and privately poignant. All conversation had ceased between the two friends. You could only hear breathing. You could not hear their steps. 

Catarina guessed it was about three or four pm. They had gotten lost, separated from the trail and if they were not out when the sun finally went down, there was no way they were going to survive. She could see it in the distance: the veiled sun, the yellow halo obscured by boundless gray barely shining through the clouds. The sky heavy and pregnant with fresh blizzard. It was an unforgiving winter. It had been and remained unforgiving now. The sunset they faced would turn to black without portrait. We will survive, she had lied.  She knew that soon she would hear the twig snap and that she would run. She didn’t know what her friend do but she did know she would hear her scream. She would dart across the forest as fast as she could. She would sprint. She would sprint the whole way without looking back or without time to reflect on her reflex. She would have no time to wonder.

Forget the whole thing. It was agony to know and it didn’t seem fair. Wear the blindfold. None of this was fair. But she did see the wolf. She was reaching to pull the pen out to mark the four pm chime in scrawl on the veins of her left hand. A ritual of safety. That’s how they met. He was gray and white with yellow eyes. Low to the ground and keen, he held a silent snarl between his teeth. She couldn’t hear their steps. Her head lowered,  she did not reach past her hips any more. Heedful, without making a sound, she turned her head slightly to the left. From her periphery, she saw his friend skulking carefully and quietly on the other side of them, low and snaking through the branches. Walking this clearing for the past five or six miles exposed them. It will be faster, she said. She already knew.

At least one branch had fallen and the wolf wouldn’t see it. He would step on it just as he was getting ready to pounce and she would be afforded an extra second that would propel her. She kept her eyes and head down. She inhaled and felt her pulse begin to thrum and warm her body in anticipation. She began to lift the balls of her feet. She began to clench her palms into fists and from her right, she heard the snap. From the left, she felt the hesitation. She knew there were only those two. She began to run. You could not hear them breathing. You could only hear screech turn to scream and then only her own breath quickening in time with sprint; each quickening step. You could hear a flutter of wings above, one call and if you had time to look up, you’d see a flock of blackbirds pushed to movement from the violence below. But there was no time to look up.

 

“The Woman Who Saw Her Own Death” (or “The Woman Who Ran From Wolves”)

you? you will know me by
the devil etched squarely on
my thigh and my ascetic
right arm, twitching
for something to grab,
my left nail picking
at the scripture
In God We Trust,
circling a web on
my inner elbow
now red
from the plucking.
my nails are unpainted,
filth-tipped and broken.

my clavicle is jutting,
as are my eyelids,
sharp  and
neck perched, gazing upwards
and down at you,
the long legs beaded with sweat,
tongue lolling,
panting,
you found me exhausted
and

watching it drip
from my lips
like little fits of rave
and fury; my concern
not being water,
or the saliva
leaking to my bottom lip
but posterity,
warning.

I clear my throat again.
excuse me.

you invite me in.

“the women”

I am thinking of culpability
as it relates to
feelings towards me.
I am thinking
you’re thinking
what’s the probability
I still hold grudges and
what’s the likelihood
I save a thing that any
man has given or said to
me, but we also have to examine
formula so you
reverse and see the way

 

I move at night first.
foremost, you have to
ask yourself whether my stasis
is truth or lie, and if all
perpetrators love getting
caught what does that mean for
us? and starting to feel myself
dissolve into the walls,
I become
first so large I cannot be unseen,
and then with a snap of
my fingers, a panel
blending in like camouflage
with the cracks along my walks.
I could not stop myself
from seeking; even in
chill, I could go from one
end of town
to the other.
like a slow exhale.

when the city closed the
streets for the pope,
I walked from Frankford and
Allegheny to 30th and Market,
having also biked it first.
even though we lacked the
snow capped hills,
something about spending an
entire two months
watching for black ice and cars
even at red lights,
hearing them skid,
thrilled like the slipping
over jagged rocks.
and being watched daily
by a nemesis and every man in this
town really made it feel much
more weighted
and at such a shifting
ponderance. there were
glades of icicles
to wade through,
my hamstrings so strong
towards the end of
February, my fingers
like wrinkled rulers
measuring the space
between neighbors,
the circumference of
baseball sized holes in
windows, the sting of
locked knobs,
and

crippled by the straws
I clutched ungloved.

 

“February/February/July”

 

I have three cuts through
the devil on my leg
and a small bruis
to the right of it,
a large bruise on
my left thigh and
when we met,
you had a large mark on your
right arm that looked
like someone had grabbed you
and I don’t know where
I got it.

you are careful.
I am unsure what to say.
I don’t either.
I gesture to myself,
I mean to mine.

I begin to tell her a dream.
he begins to tell me a dream.
I am in the middle of a forest
and she is in front a fire
and all she says is
wait, be careful
what you say
and holds her hands up.
she kind of walks towards me.
she is young but
but like also like her child.
like she is her daughter.
she is walking up,
she is wearing a long white
pj gown and has long hair,
hands out saying
be careful what you say.
and then I just wake up.

and then wake him up.

“datura moon” or “the story of us”

 

“We have, I think, great terror of pain, and consequent resistance to what it can teach.”

–Louise Gluck

freedom is a cage
of smudged windows,
or it is a knot
in my stomach,
wriggling.


I dream of white frogs
at night in pools
covered in tea lights
and women swimming ahead
to cavern and I
feel caterpillars
washed in symbol,
incubated, sliding through
my gut, inching
their way from corporeal
packages when the day is
warm and facing them,
unbridled.
when the wind is favorable

my unimpeded exodus
through speech
prevails;
from chrysalis to
window, cracking
pane and tracing spit
like slug on glass
to mark the gust
that carries.
from gut to
chest to
windpipe:
carved.  how screams are
rushed when pushed,
or just when they finally
meet the Earth
as voluble flutter
that maims itself
to form.



“Arachne”

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.
it took fifteen minutes.
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.

“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”

 

we left with our hands
uncurling
in separate pockets, fingers
strained against the denim.
I left a place where I found
God and
a studio apartment
with no utility bill,


foothills with no rain and
zero percent humidity,
sun 300 days a year and
a rose blanket that smelled
like my parent’s room.
I left my
first incantation,
      my brother is dead
in the margin and
you left me with this
townhouse.

an abrasive echo
that scratched marks
in the walls,
no budget for paint.
one half of the utensils,
a couple of wicker baskets
and no end table.
you gesture to the antique armoire,
remind me it’s yours
even though it’s not your
taste, you see the value
in heavy wood.

you took the bigger bottle of
toothpaste.
five chairs,
all the curtains, the area rugs,
the broom and your
glare lingered on me
counting dollars
in a borrowed sundress,
feel my clavicle
jut out the skin
as I rationed meals.

you took the kitten and
the lighters,
every last card
(left the armoire)
and  so abruptly like when
you took my waist that
one breathy night,
pulled me into the crook
of your body. said
you were going to
      squeeze me in this bad neighborhood
rolled out of that soft spot,
grabbed a litter box,
took clean off.

“doors #13”

freedom,
as with any other illusion,
is a cage; square
of smudged windows

 or
slowly cracking doors,
screened porches and you’re
watching the kids chase the wind
into the gulls at the shore.
brick walls with a hole in the
mortar and you’re peeking
through the cracks of your
latest lover’s absence,
trying to catch sight of
the tips of their nails
for the synesthetic trail
down your  breast or
the scourge and
when settled
and mended and feeling
very tall,
broken glass on the sidewalk
as you leap from your
place:

burning, indelible
in char.

doors #12

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