first, he showed me the block.
waved his hands over black ice,
concrete, gritted
      you know how to make things work

he walked several feet ahead as
we did a loop between two identical
intersections and stopped in a booth so
he could pay for the affection:
a vegan milkshake to soften
the contrast between two
nearly identical snow-lit
worlds; two winters in two
time zones but one was green and blue
and foothill-lined
and  one was bleak.
this one hung in the air:
gelid, tense, a dense and
mutable gray that changed from
partially cloudy to
biting fang
but what is more concerning is the
space between us.


I slurped the vanilla coconut cream
from the plastic straw without making
eye contact or anything known
and he laughed at the things
that just rolled off my tongue
in these little allayed fits. it was January fifth,
the middle of a
polar vortex and I hadn’t seen
the center of the city yet,
or west or anything but
Kensington.
I kept mumbling about the
loose trash  and he smiled.
my nose was running so
I spent the evening
in silence wiping it.
trembling, 
cradled in his iron abdomen.

all day long
I vacillate.  I set intention—
maybe I move a couple steps forward
or skirt one craving
and I applaud myself for days.
my knees get some desperate rest
or my body gets water
but it’s followed by immediate
withdrawal.
indulgence,  glutton
three walks:
four coffees, twelve cookies
and picking a fight.


cherished: my leisure,
my habits,beloved
hermeticism and my ability to make believe–
find  double meaning
of everything. I’m really just walking,
compulsive ambivalence.
I shrug.
sip the coffee

let the wind take me.

now I am
in Philadelphia,
with an Access card to
buy toilet paper. .
I am dog sitting; house sitting for
money in Queen Village,
and I spend the days
drinking their hazelnut flavored
Keurigs,
sneaking their chocolates.
using their washer for my own
heavy blankets,
and walking the pit bull
without the choke chain
she gave me.
I observe the doors of people
in Society Hill:
clean black or mahogany
with the numbers painted on
them or in brass next to their
outdoor lanterns, their empty
flower boxes soon to be leaking
zinnias, petunias, geraniums.
soon to be fingered,
picked by me.
I am obsessed with the material
possessions of others
and knowing I’m no good
marked this place for
later:

we should rob them.

begin to circle the area
with the pit bull
understanding clemency only
gifted to the few who
have smiles like
little sunshines
and white skin;
tanned but porcelain
otherwise.

“doors #1”

I carried little pieces of God
everywhere;
whittled pine needle,
robin feathers,
a baby garnet for luck.
besides the
straws, I liked
natural things; Earth

to touch during
sedentary moments
quell the fidget inside.
today, a pint-sized celestite
entertained my skittish fingers.
it was a part of a larger cluster,
but I liked the cyan sparkle
so I broke off a piece.

I am surrounded by repentance,
men with wolfish outlines.
“allies.”

I nod when they say
they feel a guilt greater
than their desire. I relate
having consumed an entire
night’s portion .before walking here.
when they want my approval,
they usually begin with things
like
I took advantage of her.

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.
I am mostly plain.
save light blush, mascara and
chapstick..
it is important as a woman
to catalog what you were wearing
and how you generally look
in any moment.
also I had gained some weight.

 when you tell the audience the story
they can gauge their reaction better.
were you homely, girl?

I was neither homely nor
exceptional, a frozen
brown blob blending
into the cream walls
and watching the blue chips
of nail polish flake onto
the floor. as he spoke
of his life of
trespassing,
I found my hands
to be urgent.

and remembering the whisper
of the woman who shushed
the last girl who shared her rape
in a room just like this,
I watched a speck of light blue
crystal join the floor.
saw the red swell and trickle
into a dot capping my finger:
blood     and   watched
the tiny celestite break.

“fury”

they say I talk too much
and I’m inclined to agree.
perhaps I’ll
sew my chapped lips shut,
show them the scorpion etched
on my shoulder
first and no one
has ever seen my childhood home.

but I’m compromised
by the simple fact I think
I might be a ghost so I’m
always checking mirrors
and calling 911, waiting for
the fireman to touch my arm.
they say
“your leg is not numb, ma’am.”

but I can’t be sure so I make
him touch it again.

one trick is never tell them
anything. I like my men
to think I wait in lonely
cave: ache
and pray for them.
palms clasped and reverent,
sort of rocking like that.
real southern too.
just sort of worshiping
the idolatry of shadow.
please.
they make me repeat it:
please. and thanks
for everything.


my men remember me
incessantly and always
cut out of starry dough:
soft, head half-cocked
looking up at them
with servitude but
sideways like I’m
about to laugh,
then me in my day skirt,
hair covered and
muttering.
candle lit or twenty seven
if I’m out of time.
devout.
pocket full of them.

what a violent question.

you’re sunburned,
gone for weeks without
inquiry and now
a wash of here:
forehead fervid,
a humid wind clasping
the back of the choker
while your left hand lifts
my skirt.
thighs are soft,
reminiscent,
it’s the skin that brought
you back, isn’t it?
what’s that?
you say,
looking at the blue and
black ring of shadow mouth
above my  birthmark.

it’s the way your jaw
bulges as you bite your
ocean tongue
that was just kept safe
and wet under me
before you begin to
pull the clasp rope
til the emerald center
pushes hard against  the
front of my throat
almost as if you are going to
bring the stone inside me
that proves it.
and please,

what a violent question,
love. 


“Five of Wands”

made me walk to her house
collecting stones along the way.
said she was building something.
my pockets and fingers were dirty
and when I arrived,
she was sitting, arms crossed
and
throw that conch shell away
is how she greeted me.
I feigned my deference
and regret it now.
she never wanted me to kneel
but to toil for her favor.

she didn’t greet me with any body part
but squared me.
when I asked about the stones,
she looked perplexed.
gestured to the kitchen where the
trash sat and said
throw those away too.

“sisyphus” or “how guys save me in their phone 4”

smirk.

black lipstick and naked eyes and
lied about time
when I asked her.
she looked at her wrist to
count the hearts but missed an
hour and she is
dulled,
not rusty but
blunt and I know
when she walked away,
her hand was
steadily sharpening.

“how guys save me in their phone #3”

   repeat after me

the first thing you noticed about me
was that you’d seen me before and
my s   l    o      w southern accent,
my impervious sway and
bit of a drawl but mostly

the way I smirked:
sometimes red-hot,
sometimes ice-cold.

               my name is Lilith

you called me cool
and unapproachable and 

             my name is Lilith

felt
the outline of my torso move
in a light rescinding way
like the edge of a storm changing
course but 

      my name is Lilith


you called me Lilith first. 

“how guys save me in their phone #2”

it was morosity
that ran in the family.
I sat down to the orange tablecloth,
my spanish deck set
    laberinto
every light out,
about sevcn candles it
and a roller coaster kind of
high, grief taking years to
fully form outside of me,
a birthday present for us,
Matt
and pulled the first card,
    the sun reversed

i’ll always remember that.
october 19th, 2016 and my
brother is dead.
I swallow a finger full of his
ashes from the black and
white genie bottle I
keep him in and

let the ritual begin.

“the rituals’

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.

“the desert”

what does all of this
mean to you?
wave to no one, fixed
on the corner of
an antlered profile
in the corner of a
smudged mirror.

you say it’s important,
ask me to tell it in
“linear order”
but how can I get away with
things telling stories
with honesty?
I have survived time
and cage and aged
in linear order.
my proof:
          I flex a ripped tricep
endless strength and

 brimming veins
that have learned how to
whistle when your girl
walks by me.

‘the doe”

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