I spent years
counting the silhouette
lines of my cell
on the wall
and twirling,
perfecting a
curtsy, repeating myself to
the bricks daily. 


wear a bullseye–
sheer blouse, the outline
of the areola glinting
from their truculent marks–
tongue-tip spit and a bite.
I’m invisible in doses

           when the maiden turns mother
but before that, I’m followed.


a car the other night and
the others on foot
yelling something about my legs.
           when the mother is hungry
tiny shorts cuz it’s August.
my massage therapist placed
his dick on my hand
(again).
tiny breaths.

                   any complaint from the woman

being forced to touch a cock
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.
tiny ruffle in covers
passed out in his bed.

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

I have persistent, swallowed panic.
stomach problems.
the words histrionic
when I show any emotion.
inward disorder and
grief, heavy like 

my dad is dead.
my brother is dead.

my house is lined with crickets, asbestos
and mold so the pets all had
tumors.   squishy walls, broken trim
and no one will touch
the pipes.
my mom doesn’t remember the time we
watched the moon dance,
or the word for channel.

he wants to know 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 and interrupts:
that’s why you’re so sexual.
as if I have never existed
without the shadow outline
of men surrounding me,
stone, corralling
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, to hold
to bend.

“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”

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”

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”

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”

I’m obsessed with process
and transition;
the form it takes.

metamorphosis– freeze,
liquefy and
precipitate, or the moment
before– just to
reform without final
shape. stuck.
or testing permanence
with concrete.

after all that patience
and miles of crouch
through the city,
knees broken,
admiring chalked mortar and filling
the jacket lining
with lip gloss, your ardor
growing big and bright
pulling things towards you
like the moon; oh
to be suddenly seized
by your habits again.

your hand on my back.
it’s just one breath,
that’s all it takes.

“the men” 


shake my head no.

“I don’t intend to hurt myself.”
my thighs are cut with finger shaped
bruise and the smell of
someone else’s
laundry detergent
I am windswept,
gutted and frank,
even in malaise, I
fork my tongue to cut:

“I can only cry at hospitals
and then I usually leave.”
lean in, and they said
be gallant. he has
blue eyes.
“most of my family is dead.
I just want to be seen.”

my throat sore from
conversation. persisting
mucus. the taste of him.
takes my hand.
takes my neck.
takes my waist.
stop talking.

but I just can’t.

“catharsis” or “nine of wands”

get some rest,
girl,
it’s the
Four of Swords.
they say I must be
heedless to dabble in the
dark like that
and unarmed.

more unthinking;
a fiery capricious
tantrum,
stabbed in the fucking back
and fingers naturally
pointy and
webbed as things
develop into theory,
into pentacles,
into air.
time is a sequence of
cracking joints, more
misfortune and now 

I blend into the wall
when I want and you will
know me by
eyes popping open,
or my purr of a
low growl,
low to the ground,
undaunted in my
new soft black
steps.

you just hang there.

“Arachne”

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”

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