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 is the sun streaming through my
bay-sized sliding door windows
and the white capped mountains
framed within them
that I will miss most
in winter.
but there is more to voids
than photographic memory and
today I have
a piece of paper and
a dozen dead things wilted
in their vase
to remind me.

 

there is a touch of red
sprinkled around the glass
that browns and sets as dry
on the sill in
my small uncurtained bedroom that
I pace
when I have too much on my
mind and today they

remind me

life is a patient rot
to tomb, a gauntlet and
fluid so I  better keep
moving.

life is a patient
gut to get to
wound     it was April
on Earth Day when I wrote
My Brother Is Dead
in the back of a notebook I would never
look at again.
it would be the thing thrown away
to make room as I packed the car
two years later in the most frigid
December, my partner,
the weather, the frost of us and
I was in my big brown jacket
that absorbed me in
synthetic down and
I’m twirling the stem of a
decaying feather
of a real dead sparrow in my pocket,
the lyrids
are crowning across Colorado as
I am responding to
a nod, someone asking
was he your only brother?

 

I repeat the question in my head.

 

yes, he was my only brother.
it is much easier to disappear

but the house moved with
me;  from freeze to open
like an unattended mortuary
moved to resurrect itself
after years of
neglect and

did you know,
the bones given a soft lick
will sparkle white
  like fresh-caught ivory
and once it feels the brush of
mouth
will file any joint to tip
with tooth
and gore the things that touches 

it, that holds it
near to chest or
safely in its palm?


as it shreds the flesh from
crown to feet,
someone says to me,
with sincerest sympathy

and I fall into a fog.
I repeat it in my head:

 

was he your only brother?

 

as I pass a trashcan,
fumble   make room in my bag
for lipstick.

 

“the sympathy card”

consult the oracle again

wear what you want,
let these animals
control themselves
my tiny ball of citrine says
so
I put on my cat suit
and go for a walk
to catch tan in the new
big sun.

  it was a long winter
of regression, needs unmet
and anchored in self by
a weighty repression,
lamps and the length of
my ire stretched, permanent,
coming undone on your pillow
where you wept in peace
until I charged back in
costumed in tank.

I’ve blown the tea lights out;
my presence is altar,
sit naked in the eyeline of the fan and
spools of smoke from bamboo incense
crown my head.
I am showered,
manicured, my skirt is barely an inch of
fabric  containing my
pubic bone or buttox
so they’re stuck to me
like sweat hot salt sticks
dripping down my skin.
I dab some tiger’s eye oil and
jasmine on my wrists,

brush their arms with
my nails, cut through centers,
stop absentmindedly to change song
and let
their thighs press my thighs,
their forearms hit mine.
it’s the invitation I am waiting
for.  

there are
ambulances wailing all over town
carrying victims of stroke
with blood rushing upward
forming an arrow,
the fletching pointing to their throat.
they feel the beat of wings
before they feel
my hands wrap their larynx
and the first thing they tell me


you’re full of secrets.

“catcalls”

The Blue Book

 

this is fresh.
like the last word
someone said.

like old photographs
of you unsure of your beauty
and skill and power
set to the mountains
at sunset like you couldn’t
imagine not having that.
because it was there it was outside
and you were there.
the last time you look at a place.
the space between states,
the plane ride to your
brother’s coma.
this is fresh.

not wrapped in plastic
soma, this is the last time you’ve ever
seen or heard from someone.
i am familiar with death.
you would never know by looking at me
that i have experience forty, maybe more,
deaths
in my life.
but if you ever saw the contents of
my purse, the twisted straws,
the clutter, you would see a child.

i make confession.
im suddenly angry and
crying, i cant stand the way
things turned out.
i am free.

i lived an insular, classified life
that no one ever saw and
no one ever validated
and every struggle i had
came with the parable
that it is indeed very
lonely at the top.
you are the epitome of
head so heavy from the
crown.
i have culture, have expanded,
am eager to self bandage.
i am a smile that is
bereft and breath that
is bated, waiting, holding
like i understand my own
precocity
75,000 miles deep.
like i understand the depth
of me.

you are talking to someone
who taped a mirror so she
couldn’t see her aging face,
the way i never learned to line
the top of my lids,
the way i gorge on lust
and cake.
i am free of vanity,
not mistake.

i do not care.
i do not care.
i get my hands back.
when they ask why you are crying
at the ground full of straws,
don’t bother answering.
look at your hands and praise
them.    leave your sad
face alone.

finishing the blue book

sparkling explosion of
cellophane and champagne nails
tickling birthmarks down the
back.
fallen glitter eyeshadow
dance on a throat:
roving crescent moons
from everywhere a lip hit
and pieces of gold dust
rolled off my nose.

bare mattress,
a girl licking a cheek and a
bare tear
sort of near.
hearts like lava
fill the blue gray cracks.
ghost stories and berries in bed,
mouth filled with laughs.
I’m in an afghan
sinking my teeth into a shoulder,
straddled with bare feet
and bravado drips from every
inch of me
     and what else?

I’m somewhere else.

 

11.

 

The things I’m naming:
ways to feel unsettled in transition,
states and the way the birds landed
on the trees outside my window.
all the while thinking people
should just understand,
like they had your history with them.
feelings.

my mom once hung a “feelings’ chart
on my door
so I could circle the face that
most resembled mine. was it envy driving this
appetite? was I that difficult
to decipher? me,
always shaking in some corner
then blasting off,
dictating, taking,
moving everyone to room
to game.


I don’t talk much
sometimes.
actually sometimes I
let my mind molder
like an untended peach,
just growing brown and soft
and inedible,
unused, unexamined
any further.
put everything I own in trashbags
and toss it out.
I do this every year.

but in malice, the brambles
that i’m tied to,
dauntlessness prevails,
action, cardinal,
bitter.
they always say i’m bitter.
I’m acidic quite actually.

give me coffee,
watch me run in circles,
flash my tongue.
what it’s like to rule like queen:
favors coming at you and people
trembling in their seats,
the gluttony, the theft,
the power
What do I want?
and at your leisure.

my leisure:
the growth between getting
and having,
the run, the game.
If there is truth that people never
change, I guess I am stuck somewhere
on a trail
walking.

 

“nothing”

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)”

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