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”

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”

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.

this was years ago.
the first time I told them about it.
sitting on the edge of the bay
on a borrowed blanket,

I was vomiting up
an Everclear Slurpee
and peeling back the bottom
of his parent’s quilt realizing
I had covered the entrance of the
ghost crab’s home.
embroiled in my own
deafening philosophy
about the closing of the day;\
the way it moved–
death,
like an itinerant wave
that followed me
and only me,
everywhere.

I coughed that up second
to tell him
the rituals (pinch the
straw, doll) were there to
keep me safe.

the tide crept back
and I heard him light a cigarette,
felt myself starting to drown again
and then his hand on my thigh,
then nothing at all.
pain subsides in very
miniscule amounts
of time
if  you don’t
repeat the
story.
(do not repeat the story)

my head is eighteen visions a second:
someone getting their face smashed
with a brick, someone getting into
a plane, slicing the skin of my fingers,
blood. blood. blood. blood.
and matching the numbers to the proper
order.    reorganizing mantles.
bleaching my teeth and
every inch of my house.
first, you have to feel safe.
I begin to build the glass
around me.

and turning to you again, I
implore you to pick a title and
stick with it.   for me, I say
cupping your baby soft chin,
(Alaska is safer than Australia):
do you like warnings or do you
like to drown?

“warnings”

Saturdays and the 1 pm
alarm clockon snooze,
the bare-faced evenings
in throw blankets;
languid, but there is still
a rabid tongue
between fits of sudden inspiration.
moved
from sheets to
cushions to sheets
to type it down,
to shower
once a week
if you’ll allow yourself to feel warmth.

graze your chin, scalp,
untouched thighs.
open your chapped lips to the sky.
feel the water rush your neck and
trickle down your navel
to soak your unseen toenails.
do not question anything
for those three whole seconds;
it is the closest thing to orgasm
you can manage.
it has been a tough change in seasons:
costuming yourself with
sincerity, (you’re vulnerable)
tights and boots
and an expansive blankness
that still drives your body around
to pick up soy milk.

finish something you started.

there you are.
some cooing cobra.
the chills that almost ate
me: winter.   several
in a row.
the darkness and
introspection of how
I’ve chosen to succeed,
lone and the two of swords.
thanking my institutions
for showing me how to carve
pure copper into
green or sharp to hold,
the likelihood that two things
look identical enough
to both be chosen,
that I will learn the
ways of mask
and holster. 

there you are.

“rage” or “the fifth wave”

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”

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”

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