I can smell you

one block,
no headphones and
susurration of crickets somewhere
in a distance.

my stomach rushes.
it’s night,
in shorts and halter.
i’m nowhere near to
getting there
but it’s August
and I’m alone.
that’s a step,
I think.
being alone and
dropping the quarter
without notice
cuz I have a pocket full.

I think,
you have a pocket full
of quarters and you’re alone.
that’s really something
to have kept the townhome

it’s August, 8:42 pm
and eighty one degrees
but dropping.


the art piece was
grotesque in its
simple presentation;
an ostentatious gift to
yourself as I fumbled
openly with decisions

and we moved right next to
a bar that was closed the
day I planned my relapse.
I wanted the burn of rum
mixed with lukewarm Coke.
maybe Mr. Boston’s.

it was a dark copper
and it stayed at the top of
the stairs.
I think I was under a deep dehydration.
I needed limits and
boundaries but I also needed to
tear the art piece off the wall
and file each side into a lithe
pocket knife that I could
wear around my neck
as a signal
of masculinity, but only I
I have taped one to each arm
as well and to each thigh,
and to each ankle
which is the joke about masculinity.
it’s supposed to contain
a dark wild feminine
but abhors any force.

the fourth wave is
more insidious.
I didn’t notice the change
at first but I did gaze up
at the top and wonder
what it’d be like to
leap to bottom step
and if you’d notice that first
or that a piece of
the sculpture was missing,
hidden somewhere else.

“the black book”

I learned to drift
young and
listened to my Papa’s
stories, my aunt’s stories,
the whole family telling stories
and I learned to joke
too. it’s about knowing
what people respond to
but also a dauntlessness.
everyone in my family
laughed big and loud,
smoking cigarettes sitting around
the picnic table,
a pretty red wood covered
with some tawdry pear-slathered
yellow and cream plastic cloth
made to absorb ketchup
and beer cans everywhere.
the empty ones there for butts.
and bottles of Coke in giant
two liters   their tan slender fingers
and the confidence of lighting up.
I perfected the flick of an ash
off the end of a burning cigarette
long before I held one.

it’s ninety percent the way
your neck looks when you’re listening
and ten percent what you say
when you finally move to
enter the game.
I learned to grift too.
there were many ways.
more about fun then–
just how to sneak out
at night to grab cigarettes
from the bowling alley cigarette
machine; a preposterous
thing but came in handy.
I would sometimes crawl out of
my bedroom window,
my bed right beneath it and
able to slide the screen right open
without breaking it,

it was easier then the back door.
I had to tiptoe.
we had thin walls.
I slept with my door shut,
pitch black and covered with
pillows scared of my closet.

sometimes we took beer from my friend’s
parents cooler,
or candy pocketed from 7-11
or lip gloss from Eckerd’s
or something from a man’s house,
anything really.
I liked to take photographs of them
and items of clothing to smell
before they leave me.
sometimes I would stare at the pictures
he left out on his dresser
suddenly. not sure if they were planted
or just forgotten as he
offered me a shot of tequila on
his barracks colored carpet;
that off-white every sailor had;
stained with Friday nights
and teenage vomit.
movie ticket stubs falling
out of my coat pocket.
I always took my shoes off
out of politeness even though
I could see the scrape of dirt
from welcome mat to
cot and today:

a picture of him and his wife
on the rocks on the coast
of San Diego,
a card she left him,
something in spanish.
I would listen to the CDs he played
on repeat to get over her, later
alone, more holding the sting
and the shattering way
it felt forced to be fucked
to music like that.
fascinated that grief can transcend
between two people, same song,
two different ways.
two different meanings.

where are you running to now?

I’m at Lehigh and 2nd
giving a man directions
to the 15 stop and he is asking
me where I am going.
I have no job or friends,.
but tons of antique wood
furniture and I kind of nod
to myself without answering him,
just keeping that buoyancy of
knowing that

acquiring objects is half the battle.
the other half is unearthing.

“walls #1”

what will you hold
in your old age?
me in the dark, feeling
the railing as I crawl
up the steps to my
king-sized bed
and the dogs that lie
there peacefully.

and feeling lucky:
the memory of a
southern thunderstorm;
it’s bristles of electricity
that made the hair stand up on
my forearms.

listen to the rain.
this house has no trinkets
but there are journals buried under
the floorboards and one
framed picture on the wall:
the four of us,
young  and laughing
like we had


“dementia #1”

if you shrunk her to the
size of a pine needle
and try to remember her true
stature first: platformed boots,
four inches taller than she really
is and towering some men
not just in height but in
loquaciousness, abrasiveness
and hid her in the bunk of
a barn underneath the bales,
I don’t know,
he waves his hands,
for revenge.
you could even tape her mouth
shut, quell the squawking thing,

I bet
she would shine like a comet;
self immolate, ignite herself and
begin to set the barn on fire
so you could find her.
I bet;

I would bet yes every time
that even hidden like a penny
in a cornfield
she’d make sure you found her.

“how guys save me in their phone #8”


seventeenth set is most definitely
about you. I diverge
from any given task
when I am suddenly feeling

and really I do hope;
the crux of all disappointment
is the expectation and I want
(is an understatement)
to be seen without pressure.
I hope you find all this gaucherie

I find it excruciating
to long and wait,
to even stand
near a thing I admire.
I like starting things,
putting them out.
the easiest thing I learned
was the alphabet and how to 

string sounds together
like narratives,
to read.
is what I crave.
my mother rushed me to
the sink at five years
old; I laid my finger
flat on the side of
the metal barrel,
it was full of leaves
and burning.

as we removed evidence
of the crisp and
precipitous October,
my mother noticed
my gaze, said “Sarah,
do not touch it” and then
I touched my finger
to the flame.
it was the brilliant orange
that drew me and force,
contained like that
right here in our backyard.
shapeshifting to a final
face like
me, armed with words,
a hot knife
and all warmed up,
having sliced through
tendon before  and you just
seeing me form the language
of concision,
the succinctness of
one scream:

crisp and precipitous,
and you just
soft like warm butter.



I want to believe that good
things happen to good people;
the missing garage,
the missing shed,
the missing money.
I want to wave my hands over
my ancestral nothing
to show them
they’re wrong.
I can’t shake the way a woman
abandoned my grandmother in a
Hungarian orphanage.
the way my mother told me
that was the way of the times,
the way I’ve been expected to thrive:
my grandma learning English as
she arrived,
my grandfather watching his mother committed
to a hospital, young,
signs of dementia,
his father running,
him only speaking Polish
upon arrival. I want to
believe that they knew
without language, simply
the first way they held each other
at night.

and I want to stop crying.
my friend says, they always come
back and I have evidence of it too.
I lost a hundred dollar bill
the other day and laughed.

it means nothing to me now.


“grief part 6”

I’ll remember you as a
long desire;
intangible, a
carnation sunset
leaking out of me.
And the keeling over
later, the aftershock:

cramp, the bite
in self preservation;
survival and the
slow repetition of
phrases cementing
the indelibility;
the dormant  rage in

you only get pregnant once.

then I become the squalling
daughter and you
become the thorn.

“Liliana” or “grief pt 8”

she was pandering to my 
emotion, calling this episode
a real child even though my friend
took my side and mentioned how
dramatized television is
and that those cases are slim.

she said you said kill everyone.
I never said kill everyone, I said
if the law is  x=x then it’s x.
I could see her reaching for
the feminine in me
as far as I could see
was straddled and leaning back.
confident enough to be the first one
to volunteer for the exercise,
which I remind her, is not
examining the morality of the law
itself but to remove debate around it
so that it may be better enforced,
without outcry and fairly.

when I finished nine hands
went up. we were a class of eighteen.
unsure of why
I volunteered for the exercise
first, and given the freedom to begin
with any declaration, why I chose to
examine how mass assassinations
could really kick things off to accept
blindly that some people are

the argument was not over
until all counter points had been examined,
the professor said.
she was tall and smiling when
I spoke and I felt thankful for her
defense of me any time she reiterated,
I was correct in re-summarizing the
exercise for each of the
nine hands that went up,
consuming the bell with a
theoretical society that arbited
punishment blindly as the statue
alluded to also,
the society we try to 
have now is composed of
criterion like that. 

I was eighteen and glowing
and enjoying the attention
with zero conviction about
the death penalty.
and when it came back to
her, and she presented it again
after many others had spoke,
I am sure I said,
to be perfectly frank,
we would HAVE to
kill the child in order
to make the law work.

and then I just kind of laughed
because the exercise itself asked you to
first pick a side and fight for it;
not to defend the death penalty
but to remove morality from law
having the freedom to remove all
structures of law around murder,
I could have created a punishless state
in which murderers walked free
or a Hammurabi and it is with the
same amount of callousness, that I
have begun to plant
nightshade around your house.

probability being like
you probably like to touch
things like me
and thinking it

to be Queen Anne’s Lace
giving it to your girl
for Valentine’s Day.


“Valentine’s Day part #1”

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