I spent years
counting the silhouette
lines of my cell
on the wall
and twirling,
perfecting a
curtsy.

repeat myself daily
to the bricks.
wear a bullseye blouse–
sheer, the outline
of the areola hinting at
desire or spit.
I’m invisible in doses.
(when the maiden turns mother).
car followed me
the other night and the others,
yelling something about my legs
again.
(when the mother is hungry).
tiny shorts.
my massage therapist placed
his dick on my hand
again.
tiny breaths.

(any complaint from the woman).

being forced to touch a guys dick
while im bent over puking;
that memory always comes back
second, and so does
being fucked without
“literally any consent.”
is the way I say it to him.
drunk.
asleep.

(any affirmation that doesn’t start with yes)
(can no be an affirmation?)
(yes,
when it affirms your rejection of men).

I have persistent panic.
the words histrionic
when I finally move to speak.
why are you so emotional?

my dad is dead.
my brother is dead.

my house is full of mold,
squishy walls–no one
will fix the plumbing because of
this and  the pets all  had tumors.
my mom
doesn’t remember the time we
watched the moon dance,
turn brown
or the word for channel.

\he wants to know that I’m not faking it.
my first memory was me
being forced
to try on outfits for some guy 

until  he patted my day bed,
bent me over.
raped me.
he waves his hand
curtly: that’s why
you’re so sexual
as if I have never existed
without the shadow outline
of men surrounding me,
stone and unresponsive
like bars
to a cell. 


and don’t overthink
my outfits because
sometimes I wear head
to toe sweats,
bare face,
hair freshly bladed
so there’s nothing
to grab.

“Rage”

light the fucking candle.

stare at the mirror,
a little past it.

what card do you see?
they ask.
I see the moon.

turn it over.
it’s the moon.
they do this all day long
to prove to me the existence of God.

I have a jar of oil, bayberry, my own spit,
blank check signed, prick from my finger, dash of
rosemary, rose petal from my dad’s
funerary placement (private, just us)

and my menstrual blood
on the mantle.

“I give it all to you.”

(I’ve done this before)

take my blood,
drink it like pomegranate jui ,
get drunk on my rage.”

turn over a card:
Justice.
just to prove things to you,
princess.

I wake up the next morning
bleeding again,
a week early, moon in Leo.
pour a cup full to her.
candle lit.
to the lion’s head,
drink up, love.
it’s pertinent you take it
one bitch at a time.
Justice.

the first thing you notice about me
is my smile, wide, bright like a star
and  the second thing you notice
is the viper behind me.

the fifth one i call is Sekhmet.

“five of wands”

January 5, 2014 and we
have arrived in
North Philadelphia.
the first thing I notice
isn’t the black plastic bags
lining the blocks or the
Auspicious Coin Laundry Service
sign boxed in blue lights
but the way you don’t
seem to look at
me and the way I seem
to blend in with the
tan upholstery of the
passenger seat
even though I am
wearing a bright red
turtleneck,
coughing, asking
if this is where we are
going to live and practicing
pronouncing
K e n s i n g t o n.

mired in the habit
of saying everything I think
aloud without
expectation.
of tapping a finger on
my thigh. of checking
time, twisting a plastic
straw in my hand and
fading.

something building
in my chest;
emergent waves
pounding at the
sternum like
irate knocks
when they want to
be sobs then
fading.

“hypothymia”

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”

which helps me to
instruct myself.
better not staid;
better fitted to be flitting
from corner to corner while
bossing them around but
what I tell you is truly
inconsequential.

merely I am pressure
of depth and that I believe it
so
having told you first
with conviction, I begin again
to frame it.
legs crossed on the carpet,
hands out in imposition.
the wood mantle lit
and rearranged, objects
of sentimentality removed
so any backhand can’t
sweep it.

it’s important that my personal items
are kept away from the circle,
and maybe once I didn’t believe
but falling victim to your
own enchantment and
in such a way that you’re
riveted for entire minutes
by wax on the carpet
making meaning of the
sickle F shape; tracing it
with black, toasted fingers,
room wafting in the smoke
of rosemary,
you begin to care about
which stones are set and
things like that.
hands out:

first, you will be looking
up to notice
the sky dark but glittering
with stars
so the whole place
around you is lit up
and there are friends nearby.
I say this directly to the
picture jasper draped in the
thread of my necklace;
the glyph of Lilith.
and add a promising
hopefully,
as in with a little
upward inflection.

I got a pocket full of
them and I’m banking on
that so I say it twice
with anticipation:


ojala.

1.

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
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
carrying victims of stroke
with blood rushing upward
forming an arrow,
fletching to the 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”

you? you will know me by
the devil etched squarely on
my thigh and my ascetic
right arm twitching
for something to hold,
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 down my nail
as I try to hide the trail on chin,
but posterity:
warning.

I clear my throat again.
to let that portending
excuse me.
squeak.
I’m crouched, less than five
feet from this angle and
you invite me in.

“the women”

My entire life has been informed by the space between us. 

There is the distance of my language and there is the distance of my touch.  Across the room but glowing. The warmest I’ll get is further away. 

They’ve memorized the muscles of my back

my pout and the echo of my cry-filling cavern
carved by the sound of my heels tapping;
retreating. Longing, and the way I succumb to holding, or allowing touch; recrudescent and poxed by them after a period of silence. Tarred by them after a period of respite. Not long enough. A period of cavern. Them, memorizing the color of my shoulder blades in the sun: tall and olive and taut from tension. Desperate for the light of distance. Spoked.  Tall, and wrought with tension.

 I am strolling. I am even sauntering.  Til I see them, I am strolling, then nothing, then tunnel vision. Emptied, but not quite that: automatic. Spurred by instinct. The pervading eyes and I am (smiling) seeing the space close in around me again. Lifeless, watching the move of my hip go from enriched by dance to torpid.  Dragged by shell. 

I am a shell.

Clench your jaw. Tighten your shoulders.Hip goes from bouncing to dead frozen in nervous. (That means it might shake).  The way there was once twenty feet between us. Suck in and walk straight. Swaying til I saw them.  Don’t trip. Ticking from nerves, looked gaily upwards til I saw them. Don’t look.  A pleasant thought crossed me right before I saw them.  My most pleasant thoughts are false memories.
Reverie.
That means I imagined the most pleasant experience of my life. 

Suddenly there was ten feet (I am smiling), then five feet (in reverie), then one foot. Suddenly the hand on my shoulder, on my middle back, the ubiquitous trail
towards my coccyx.  He towers,

“you’re too pretty.”

  I am smiling. They are a huddled mass.. So many of them with their fingers out
filling the space between us. I am smiling. Smile. They are reaching for me–
trailing their uncut fingernails down my tucked in blouse
and there is nothing underneath or inside of me.
I am vacant but I can hear the chorus, from
my safe distance.

“You are too pretty to frown.”

“the men”

sparkling explosion of
cellophane and
champagne nails
down the
back.
fallen glitter
dances
on a throat:
roving crescent moons
from everywhere a lip hit
and pieces of gold dust
rolled off my eyelids
down my nose.
painted like a porcelain cup;
delicately, glass heart,
handle.

bare mattress,
ripped each corner of
sheet off and
me licking a cheek.
I’m telling him
ghost stories and
eating berries in bed,
mouth filled with laughs.
I’m in an afghan
sinking my teeth into
a very soft and bronzed
shoulder,
straddled with bare feet
and bravado drips from every
inch of me.
and what else?

I’m somewhere else.

I remove the rest of my top
and close my eyes deliberately
to show you the length
of each thorn.
wear my eyes like a hooked rose.
tongue pressed
against your chin,
my lips trace
your jaw       I am softer.
having been tempered
and forced close:
you know,
darling,
let my teeth hit your lip

I have never
become divine without first
becoming storm.

 been learning
performative emotion
to keep the ones I’m fettered
to warm, and to feel their
slippery manacles tease
the tops of my feet
like feathers as they pull
me back.
paint my lashes black


and they’re wet 
and
shaped like little
bolts.

1.

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