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”

under my therapist’s guidance,
I switch chairs to talk
to my inner predator.
now now listen to the guilt,
  it’s talking,
learn where all the trouble started.

I decided to have some boundaries
with the universe;
lined the edges of my bed with
geranium and lilac threads,
lined the sills with limonium.
my tub dripped often:
an altar of salt and
lavender sage.
carpet burns and I
watched my toes glide to the surface
by a dozen votives.
forgot everything.

my entire winter
was littered with
shards of celestite
and low violin.
I could see the sky when I wanted
from my dining room table
or on a brisk walk
to pick up oranges and Earl Gray
for the morning.
rediscovered medicine in prayer
and herb and
open mourning for my karmic retribution,
rectified,
suddenly deserved.
       
amethyst in my sock drawer and jasper
near the lamp, I held
one shout in my throat
in an effort to
pacify myself.
protect myself from myself.
it’s so tiring;
anorexia with
insatiable mouth.
planned outfits.
scent so close
you begin to change shape
without notice.
you begin to grow a
mandible chest
I return to the chair,
the following week,
I have a plan.
she nods expectantly.


I plan to spend the year
fat,
fed,
replete in web
and feast.

“gestalt”

the way I held on
to five seconds of
an arm embracing me
near a cold window,
one stare;
red and in heat
all winter.
more

this demand grew
winding up my body
as I began to move furniture
in rave.
placed framed sentences
on every ledge.
all my items on sills,
every little thing I own,
to gaze at them
with gaped mouth,
blinds open under moon
if not hooded
and walking the three mile
perimeter outside.
rocks piled up on the table.
their effect on me terrifying
when glinting, silhouetted
or under influence of tincture.
at dusk, I was normally under
the influence;
large
and in loom.

every night,
the den was lit with 7 to
13  candles.
the place was pointy with
obelisks and shadow and
me, walking through
them, chanting.
repeating phrases.
burning pages
from a journal.

no recollection of what I
said or wrote
or asked for.
caged in my uncoerced
circle, tracing my finger over
cursive symbols
under the influence of
everything I touched
and everyone I once knew.
surrounded by 7 to
13 candles.

shackled
to an inky,
rising rage.

“the candles”

took me a few weeks to find the right station.
started at Allegheny, but we quickly
moved to a new one.  new location
down the street. lucky,
it’s a straight line.
  why can’t you get around?
circulates the acrid air but
there were some things lacking in this house:

color. that eggshell white encased
us and we had no budget for luxury
save the statue you brought home
but I’ll save that story.
heat, they shut it off as the previous
owner had been stealing it and
a misunderstanding occurred when  I called
to transfer the bill in my name
so we sat in arid silence
  by a space heater under
borrowed throw blankets.
they said it would take
three weeks to come back on
regardless of the cold front,
our innocence about it,
it would take three weeks to
turn back on.
and money. 


I had none coming in.
friends.
I had none coming in.
and I suppose in the tritest of ways,
love. an absence felt
with action, namely,
the bellowing 

 why can’t you figure out
how to get around?

“Huntington Station”

it’s in front of the Christmas tree
one week before you die,
alone and panicked by the
thought of mustering;
both mettle & words,
staring at white-frosted plastic;
pine dotted with uniform red balls
when I feel it.

it’s like cracking cement.

the tree only has two colors–
silver and red.
the ornaments of my childhood
gone; the plastic reindeer
that draped  like garland,
the candy cane painted with my
gold-glitter name down the center,
the felt snowman;
kind of gray,
stained by my cinnamon
bun fingers and cigarette smoke,
all lost with my yearbooks
and the oil painting of my mom.
the first and only letter
you ever wrote me
taken by the asbestos garage.
by the moisture from the dripping
ceiling,  by the mold.
by poverty: my enslaver.

I’ve been writing this for you
for about ten years
waiting for the day I’d be
by your bed to read the ending.
when my bargaining starts.
    (it’s just one breath)

this is where the poem begins. 

  1. (dad)

 i’ll remember you distant.
back turned save
the way you had to face
me momentarily
(when I was actually pleading),
your fingers laced
with blade to turn.
“I told you to…”

I’ll remember you as quietly
despotic and into yourself.

you’ll remember me as panic
unpassing, bleeding; a 

frenetic champion of unfurling
without witness,
your rival Phoeniix,
more quiet than you think
but less likely to withhold
my secret passion,
years practiced and likely earned.


got the agrimony and
ague root to prove it.
got the mirror laid.
old Hellebore & Belladonna
drawn in menstrual blood.
got a stone of yours,
your new name written clearly.
got a real belly laugh going.
got something that only gets
better with tantrum,
pain unbalanced,
time and space
(and pressure)

 to ruminate on ways unheard.

got something fixated;
an impulse
dressed with hearty
vengeance,dash of
cayenne pepper and
fresh dried herb.

“black magic”

don’t touch me anymore
what becomes of disorder
when ignored,
when floored and
stepped around before
resolve?
unhinged.

remembered hair behind the dollhouse,
remembered yeast infections,
temper tantrums “without provocation”
they said.
remember you never learned to trust.
I started roaming giant sandboxes
underground
following the Atlantic’s soporific
s
iren voice
t
o find something that called to me
long ago.
Something vague.
Something warm.
I’m unwrapping the resin layer,
I’
m coughing up the heads of dolls,
I’m moistening the cipher.
I’m coming back, I’m coming
back, bandages
off.
I’m walking forward.
This is how they’d rather have it.

I once was a space of
bright, blue lakes,
but now I’m
dried and
bursting with black magic.

“the unwrapping”

I am wearing
my best calf impression:

slow,
doe-eyed and anxious.
blue tights, black heeled boots that
scuff the floor as I
wander     as I daydream in public;
rub a soft elbow,
sip a virgin seltzer tonic with
cherries and some other
light garnish.
                 stay as close to God as possible
watch you with marrow armor and
calculated patience.
i’m a blue-black swirl of approachable
sainthood.
twirl somewhere nearby and deign to give you
open eyes for at least
twenty seconds at a time.

you crack a joke and
my laugh is deep,
loud,
brays right through you
like a swaying knife.

“first night”

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