typically, an episode starts
at the mantle any time of day
but something has to hit
and it’s usually
three things at once:
stasis plus drugs,
(that means im fucking dizzy and
no one will listen)
an acid wave in
my stomach and
a recurring thought,
(some say intrusive or imply im responding
to internal stimuli)
caffeine, throbs, jaw
tightening into one flat line–
then there’s the timing.

in no particular order:
can’t breathe
can’t swallow
can’t move my legs
and then the heart leaps
start; staggered,

the rhythm is irregular. 

racing.
my pulse burning.
mouth turns to stone.
tongue desperate, bone-
dry, lurching outwards and me
biting it to stop talking.
just want to stop talking.
saying everything that’s happening out
loud and answering their questions
but snapping, imprudent.


i don’t know what I notice first:
that I haven’t exhaled,
swallowed or stood or
  or
that I can’t seem to do anything
nor stop the group from screaming
at me.
desperate choral grove.
the candle on the altar.
blow it out.
no, lick it.
just get up.
listen to me, Cat. me first.
when I’m still, the breezes hit
and then suddenly the room falls
away.I can feel the blackness
pervade as if there is a hand
around my neck;
this ostensive power
beyond me.

i’m clutching the rug,
bottom of the ocean
as the first wave hits.

“the labyrinth”

I checked the time
before walking home.

a habit.
10:26 pm, no magic
in that but the drizzle
feels good on my bare thighs.
my obsession with clocks
began years ago,
616
313
919

everything in threes,
I am sobbing in front of the
young attending.
and I just can’t stop reading the titles.
begin to pick my lip.
sometimes I feel like I am choking.
sometimes I think I am willing it
through like it’s a choice
to breathe or not.

they didn’t check my throat,
not even once.
sympathetic nodding,
no real connection to the
young man but an hour of
purging. weeping.
wrote me a prescription to see
a psychiatrist about my
self diagnosed OCD.
I am always arranging everything.
I call Monday.
the psychiatrist doesn’t take my insurance.
can just peculiarly count rhythm
hearing a few notes.
and can align thoughts with
crescendo, and can align time too.

I decide to skip it altogether.
collect new rocks for
my mantle.
move art in new corners
spend a day composing.


later i will find out
that i have severe dysphagia,
a nodule in my throat.
and that swallowing is in fact
the most insidious
danger.

there are nights I don’t sleep.

“3:13”

we prefer rationalizing,
chronicles.
multiple guards around
us, ephemeral
longing that changes
direction but there are
no exits so we stay fashioned
to her tenuous fingers,
waiting for the fall.

cards everywhere
scattered for clarity and
I’m batshit high,
mixing herbs with ginger
and then more psyilocybin.
feeling waves form in my gut,
always finding the
King of Cups,
a bath running,
my fear of silence
an emerging disability.


i write phrases everywhere

and listen to long
chords, piano.
applause.
make words to them–
letters cut from white paper
then burned.
with force, meaning,
avarice.
tonight’s candle.
whatever she is, she
is bright and flickering
like lightning
and sometimes
she is God.

“the sigils”

your house was yellow.

my house was blue and
a ten by ten box;
me trapped,
torn between watching them
pack up their stuff
from their own pact to self,
their own inculpability,
fragile glass faces
slightly cracked and me,
stunned,dripping a
flattening virulence,

telling them about themselves,
breaking and then
pushing them out.


I really miss your hands on me.
the way you held me in
sullen incubation.
I remember the oldest incantation:
the thrust I was given,
some gleaned anticipatory luck:
      God gave you a chance and

              an unfinished smile.

we needed a spark.
I grin full tooth to show you
my new porcelain canines.
now the frame is melting
and so am I
in the cradle of tar black trees,
I fight the urge to bow
and suddenly tiptoe
all around you;
two inches taller than you remember
and my tongue hits your neck
like a quill.

hold your breath,
I say and
baby,
I’m a smokeshow, they say.
wait
for some other current to take me.
bite your skin.
let the tips of my
fingers dig in and

  there are no exits.

“chrysalis”

sharp glances.
deep in her wrinkles when
passing windows.
can’t seem to
thwart her own self persecution
and it shows in voluble shivers;
affirmations she mumbles as
she grabs the cuffs from
the table..

told me to sit down on the bed.
told me to lay face down on the bed.
told me to put my hands behind my
back. told me to
consent and
said she liked hearing stop,
the thud of impact,
prattling remorse
and doing things
slowly,
in pieces.


with repetition.

“how guys save me in their phone #11”


I’m in a pink stream,
dragged by my hair,
some sensory acuity,
words come over me in charges,
sagacity, lust,
completion.


my lips are punch-colored,
moist, eyelids the
lightest of rose
and wide open.
there is no inquiry.
I’m not fascinated by the minutiae,
day to day, I’m looking at
each speckle on
a pupil; the way the
purple lights hit everything
in the room.

you’re not risk avoidant.
I’m in front of the mirror
again.

risk-directed, I engage
this way with myself, her
shifting apparitions as I
comb my eyebrows into something
stern, dark.
intimidate in silence.

told him to reach for a condom.
I’m in front of the mirror
upstairs, opening my mouth
to it.

I showed him my entire kitchen,
tonight– freshly scrubbed–
to offer him
water.  he tapped
the black handle hiding behind a whiteboard
near the backdoor.
first drawn to the index card
with marker scrawl, a code
to self when I want more
to stop    think about it.
then to the  portion of plastic
behind it.
the way you hide knives is scary.


he lifts the brown box out of
the open wooden table
near the window in my room
to find the right one and
uncovers a lithe blade
underneath and limp;
without direction.
the expressions are priceless.

there were two there.
one near the pen that I keep
in case I need to jot something
down in the middle of the
night     I’m a cheetah.
his eyes dart, glint stars and I’m draped
in mollified red up here, and
smooth from constant shaving
and lotion.

yeah, well I have yet to stab myself.
then feel it all pushed
inside of me,
entwined,
my hair pulled back.

“Artemis”

it took me two hours
to let the ants out
of their  sugar container.

my vicious sneer
melting into your chest
nearby as they scrambled,
running every which way
as I considered retrapping
them, trying again to watch
them suffocate.


they say I’m a masochist
but my men know me
differently. a
sense of loneliness
led me to look for families
which left me enraptured
by cults.

I mark the corners
of my house with
sigil, command.
I’m surrounded by
five mirrors,
in the favor of
male form, my blade lined
mouth opening. 

“The sadist”

the water is lavender scented,
red, full of salt and pink roses
and
you say nothing for the hour,
allowing me this still and
grand ballet of thought.
of ramble and kiss the back of
my clean neck so
softly, I melt and stick to your
chest for the remainder.
all the ways in which we’ve sat
in water a dozen times before
doesn’t compare to just once,
in tactility, not in musing.

your eyes were green once.
and woman.
you are letting your nose
rest between my shoulder blades
and I am close to sob.
I am letting it emerge.
I am letting it rise before
beach, caught below,
the little girl with book
in hand, snickering.

one of my first memories is
taking a shower with my father.
he laughed a lot.

in dreams,
your eyes are blue and
I am terrified I will
get swallowed by the ocean.
often, I am outrunning a
tidal wave. sometimes,
I am in the middle of two waves
coming from opposite directions
and there’s no land in sight.
once, the girl brought me to
return a book in the current
as the wave was
building, and she had no fear.

for those who believe in fairy
tales, first comes love,
then betrayal, then
the crow to tell the
morbid wail of
widowed,
accused.
and the hidden thread;
the unreliable narrator
springing from the
Lullian Circle,
knave at side or
just a knife around
her neck.

you just have to begin.
you hold my hand
when I speak.
I am nervous inexplicably.
just existence is a trial.
count the candles.
set the rocks.
in my waking hours,
I practice walking across a lake
with black boots.
it’s an icy sidewalk on
a ledge but I pretend
that it’s a long pond.
have 13 visions of every way
he’s cut to pieces in front of
me, swallowed by the
ground.
when he first comes around,
I notice my wrist,
then my jaw,
surrender.
I have an urge to burn the
house down first
but in a long quaver,
forget the nonsense:
the counting of the pulse,
the spotty mason jars,
my blood dripping on a red
throw blanket, laundry,
my childhood–effete,
mold speckled shingles,
my sullen dead father
and his one last breath
alone,we think
sometime after midnight.

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