you? you will know me by
the devil etched squarely on
my thigh and my ascetic
right arm, twitching
for something to grab,
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 to my bottom lip
but posterity,
warning.

I clear my throat again.
excuse me.

you invite me in.

“the women”

 

My entire life has been informed by the absent space between us; not the physical space but more the way I succumb desperate to the craving for distance. Strolling, vapid seeing nothing but a way past. The pervading eyes and I am (smiling) seeing the space close in around me.  I’m a shell. Inside a buzzer goes off to clench my jaw, to tighten my shoulders. The way there was once twenty feet between us. To suck in my waist and to walk straight, don’t fall but I am picturing something or just ticking like that. The way you tic from nerves and I looked too gaily upwards. Maybe a pleasant thought crossed me. Suddenly there was ten feet (I am smiling), then five, then one foot and then a ubiquitous hand on my shoulder, on my middle back, my lower back and “you’re too pretty …” falls from the sky.  (I am still smiling) and the way they trail their fingers further down. But in a huddle. They are all in a huddle. So many of them. 

It is important they tell me I am too pretty to frown.
“the men”

I have three cuts through
the devil on my leg
and a small bruis
to the right of it,
a large bruise on
my left thigh and
when we met,
you had a large mark on your
right arm that looked
like someone had grabbed you
and I don’t know where
I got it.

you are careful.
I am unsure what to say.
I don’t either.
I gesture to myself,
I mean to mine.

I begin to tell her a dream.
he begins to tell me a dream.
I am in the middle of a forest
and she is in front a fire
and all she says is
wait, be careful
what you say
and holds her hands up.
she kind of walks towards me.
she is young but
but like also like her child.
like she is her daughter.
she is walking up,
she is wearing a long white
pj gown and has long hair,
hands out saying
be careful what you say.
and then I just wake up.

and then wake him up.

“datura moon” or “the story of us”

I took myself
to the welfare office,
not even getting lost as
I’m prone to do.
          why can’t you just figure it out?
I live right down the street.
it took fifteen minutes.
my shorts are stuck to my thighs,
and my neck is drenched.
I wipe my forehead with my hand
to her disgust.
“It’s unseasonably warm for June”
I begin and elucidate the drawl,
smile to beg for my Access card back
but here comes the recalcitrance;
she asks me for something
I don’t have and I
smacked my lips the wrong way
so I snacked on my servility
inch by inch as I
inched my way
back to our place.

months later,
I lose a diamond necklace there.
there is nothing more satisfying
than losing things or
shaving my head or
throwing away the clunky pepper
spray that women wraithed into chains
and hung from their hips
as if fear and trepidation
and weaponry have
ever kept me safe.
someone told me failure is perspective
but all I see are cops
pinching women with latex gloves
and all the little shrubs
that line the block look like
workers shaking their heads at me
      leave
or,

get on with then.
I am  throwing coffee grounds
into a leaky cardboard box,
our first CD is scratched  and
on top.
I’m on a bed that lifts
with one giant sigh
and no top sheet and
no frame.
they said risk meant courage
and I say you fucking
left me here
into your voicemail.

I’m eating sprinkles with a spoon
in a freshly inherited
two story townhouse.
It’s the sixth of June
so I got weeks.

“grace”

remember how you ranked
yourself: not top
but low and lowly,
seething. beguiling
with your rueful moan
repeating
your endless epoch of dystopian
psychosis that started the minute
someone said hello
you swear; this
tale you would
tell them as you were tied
down or arrested, and
habits don’t change just
because we do.
there is an insidious nature
to mechanism. it has worked,
it simply cannot fail,
that’s what you told yourself
(I want the daydream gone)
and 


remember how cold
February can be?
you in a staid state
of assessment that lacks
any empathy; you’re
in nine places if you’re any less
than three and recalcitrant,
turned inward so you
bark at the shades,
slice at the lines of your
hands when dusk hits.
mistake things for sirens,
police yourself scourging,
marks on your legs, your
forearms.

but when you sink,
you can feel the tongues of
nearby dogs,
your fingers half
in fur before your mind
has even greeted the owner,
feel the pup’s skin
and smile; broken
by the thing.
you were just  contemplating
the ways in which
water-boarding is
so necessary if you
actually have to force someone
to purge and
you can imagine places you could
use to get there having
felt so close to there before
and then
standing and
smiling to the man–
big and broad and sunny,
like you’ve never
thought a thing.

just rocking there,
picking daisies
in a raincoat.
It’s May and
you’re alone. 

“February/February/May”

 

we left with our hands
uncurling
in separate pockets, fingers
strained against the denim.
I left a place where I found
God and
a studio apartment
with no utility bill,


foothills with no rain and
zero percent humidity,
sun 300 days a year and
a rose blanket that smelled
like my parent’s room.
I left my
first incantation,
      my brother is dead
in the margin and
you left me with this
townhouse.

an abrasive echo
that scratched marks
in the walls,
no budget for paint.
one half of the utensils,
a couple of wicker baskets
and no end table.
you gesture to the antique armoire,
remind me it’s yours
even though it’s not your
taste, you see the value
in heavy wood.

you took the bigger bottle of
toothpaste.
five chairs,
all the curtains, the area rugs,
the broom and your
glare lingered on me
counting dollars
in a borrowed sundress,
feel my clavicle
jut out the skin
as I rationed meals.

you took the kitten and
the lighters,
every last card
(left the armoire)
and  so abruptly like when
you took my waist that
one breathy night,
pulled me into the crook
of your body. said
you were going to
      squeeze me in this bad neighborhood
rolled out of that soft spot,
grabbed a litter box,
took clean off.

“doors #13”

freedom,
as with any other illusion,
is a cage; square
of smudged windows

 or
slowly cracking doors,
screened porches and you’re
watching the kids chase the wind
into the gulls at the shore.
brick walls with a hole in the
mortar and you’re peeking
through the cracks of your
latest lover’s absence,
trying to catch sight of
the tips of their nails
for the synesthetic trail
down your  breast or
the scourge and
when settled
and mended and feeling
very tall,
broken glass on the sidewalk
as you leap from your
place:

burning, indelible
in char.

doors #12

 

I ignored his question,
showed him the
callous on my palm,
referencing my need
to grip.
sometime I have rough sleep,
that’s all, I shrug the bruise
off.
he licks my hand  with his tongue
without questioning my need to
hold everything so tightly
I’ve succumb to carpal tunnel,
arthritis, delusions of
grandeur and infancy.

has anyone ever talked to you about splitting?”
the doctor asks.
I was twisting the straw
in my fingers, contorting my
face and confessing things,
sometimes i like to shoplift.
“Who is Catarina?”
the doctor asks.
numb.
“splitting is a phenomenon in which you sort of leave your body
to allow another persona
to take over.”
the doctor says.
sometimes I like to squeeze worms in my fingers
until they pop.

          “like possession?”

my posture is severe,
having been found hunched over I am
upright, hands crossed and
waiting.
sometimes I peek at Christmas presents.
“no, more like split personality.”
the doctor is taking notes and
eyeing me so intensely, I almost
laugh. don’t tell him my name
is Arachne. not
yet.

sometimes I watch the mirror dance in candlelight
            and wait for her to come in
              I break men
like the swell that rises over bridges
engulfing islands with her mouth,
we break men with turns of
tides.

“Sarah, have you ever felt like  you were standing outside
of yourself?”

we break men with
dulcet metronomy,
or the way words do:
harm.

“Poltergeist”

 

the second one I called
was Hecate.

I am on the floor
in the stained glass
room with the brown carpet
and the yellow walls
and the paper flowers:
bright orange, yellow, red,
dusty and a sprinkle of
musk from the places
I shoved them and my
dripping skin;
eighty eight degree body
flailing impetuously
flattening them.

 

I am flipping over index cards.
the coral & lime sheet is lined
with shells, some broken
and rocks, pieces of concrete I
remember picking up in Maryland
when I saw the perfect house.
a ceramic lemon bowl is full
of dirt from catacombs,
a burned scripture,
red jasper.
my fingers digging
at the bottom,
tips filthy,
jagged, can
cut.

today we are reading up until
we are forced to stop:
is not easily angered
which means I have gotten
past does not envy
but I have not gotten
past temper,
or
I am indeed a wrathful
cunt so
the second one I called
was Hecate.
have purpose,
a patent resolve.

and I always pause to look
in the mirror,
not unsure. just a
tremor. old reflex
to watch my eyes change.
part my hair,
look past something;
my facile understanding
of this and
my dolorous step.

we break men.

crushing debris
between my fingers
into a nanoscopic
form settling
permanently on my
floor or carried
everywhere
on my soles.

“the incantations”

 at three pm,
I show up to the church
just my tourmaline in
hand, hair covered
and I begin.
    God, I renounce all
        evil in me.
my hands twisted
like roots, the white string
of my cuff ties
between my knuckles,
nervous
and he says
take your time.

beads of sweat fall
down my spine and
I can feel the pleather
stuck to the bottom of
my thighs so that if I moved,
it’d rip.
    I’m obsessed with time,
    and that’s not the issue
      but how I count it
    in riddles.
he cannot see the way
I move my leg;
the natural tremble
it’s developed.
        it’s what I say in
    blackouts, or even now,
      the way it has to be correct.
    the way it spills out of me.

daughter, what?

I’m nodding
my head in some sort
of agreement with the
rush I feel from purge,
the glow of sun
through pink stained glass
across my cheek,
the bend of legs
on pews,
the comfort of
the ailing,  the
rhymes,
to ailment.
the comfort of beads
in hands, the
alms.

I am practicing
throwing
my
arms
open
when
people
first
walk into the room
but also
remembering what
I scream at doors
in panic.

“the recitations”

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