You couldn’t hear them move over the forest floor.  The snow was fresh and soft like powder. Each step left an imprint but no resounding echo. You could only hear their breathing. You could not hear each step. Algid, windless, the day smacked without breeze, used its atmosphere like a cave of teeth; biting you on the cheek, on the wrist if your glove slipped down, your neck if it had become exposed. They had no choice but to walk through. The tension combined with the dropping temperature and lack of water, snack or any sense of direction; how does one not go mad with fury? It was the middle of January, seventeen degrees and she felt it.
Hardly any birds circled so they were mostly trapped in the infinite stillness of the woods and the remnants of a harsh blizzard that slowed them.

“It’s the eye of the storm.”
“Okkkk….but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming back.”
“It’s not,” she texted.
She bet her friend didn’t check her weather app. She bet her friend didn’t question her. She bet her friend trusted her to lead.
“Watch, I bet we get the yellow car,” she said to her friend the day they stood in line at the amusement park.

It was hot then, shining, blissful. They had eaten nothing but sugar. They were waiting to go to the final water ride of the day, spent, thirsty, aging yet jubilant. The trams were in no particular order, randomized, and every time they waited, she guessed.
“ I guess with about a 98.4% accuracy.”
Leana laughed loudly next to a woman’s ear, so loudly she shot them a look only Cat saw.
“Yeah, ok.”
“What? I have been right every time.”
“That’s 100% though.”
Catarina tapped her thigh to keep the time as they stood.
“Well, you can’t be right every time.”
“True,” Leana said sort of smirking, half engaged, half stuck in her own secret fixation.
Catarina kept her hands free of the straw most of that day, preferring to play with the strap of her bag or the cap of her aluminum water bottle. She tapped her thigh only in line sometimes. They were engaged off and on but paused when it happened.

“Did I tell you about the time I drove my car into the car dealership?” Leana suddenly said.
“What?! Tell me now.”
But the train was rolling in.  Both women’s eyes widened as the big yellow tram rolled up. Cat smiled the biggest and threw a look behind her exposing all of her teeth.
“Now, you trust my psychic ability?”
Everything was hiding.  The snow had ceased but every once in a while a tree shook when a bird perched and a big clump fell to startle them. They would both look up, unspeaking and resentful and a growing worry between them. The cold was a barrier. The distance was a barrier. The unsettling feeling that this was not going to end was a barrier They heard a crow call a few hours ago; at least three or four hours ago. They hadn’t spoken since she looked up and said,
“It must be noon.”

Her friend didn’t question it or speak to her.  Cat turned slightly to check on her. Her breathing was labored. Her cheeks were bright pink and dotted with tiny drops of ice. Leana’s face was pallid, stinging, her endurance waning and their breath came out in synchronized huffs.Together, they marched but separate, each in their own quiet obsession.  Catarina was counting hours. Catarina was reviewing lists. Catarina had practiced this walk, had a deep resolve, a spine made of knife and her knees were going to buckle but she knew what adrenaline can do. She drew hearts on her hand with each passing hour. The only time she pulled down the glove. Pockets devoid of cell phones, only a sharpie and some protein bars, there was no cell service here. She had advised Leana to keep her cell phone in the car so she didn’t lose it. Pliant for show only, Cat reassured her.

“I have a metronomic heart, you know. I can always tell the time”
Leana trudged behind her, adjusting her parka and getting ready for the first small incline.
“Cat..”
This was hours ago, when they were friends. She turned, bright, dawning, her auspicious eight am self: well fed, hydrated, head covered but face still exposed. She smiled to show her teeth.
“You’re full of shit.”

All they saw were endless groves of bare trees dotted with sparse patches of evergreens; a brightening to the dense forest of trunks. An interminable white crystal blanket to cross kept them moving, reserved and privately poignant. All conversation had ceased between the two friends. You could only hear breathing. You could not hear their steps. 

Catarina guessed it was about three or four pm. They had gotten lost, separated from the trail and if they were not out when the sun finally went down, there was no way they were going to survive. She could see it in the distance: the veiled sun, the yellow halo obscured by boundless gray barely shining through the clouds. The sky heavy and pregnant with fresh blizzard. It was an unforgiving winter. It had been and remained unforgiving now. The sunset they faced would turn to black without portrait. We will survive, she had lied.  She knew her friend would die anyway. She knew that soon she would hear the twig snap and that she would run. She didn’t know what her friend do but she did know she would hear her scream. She would dart across the forest as fast as she could while her friend was ripped to pieces. She would sprint. She would sprint the whole way without looking back or without time to reflect on her reflex. She would have no time to wonder what blood attracts or how many of them would come to see.

Forget the whole thing. It was agony to know and it didn’t seem fair.Wear the blindfold. None of this was fair. But she did see the wolf. She was reaching to pull the pen out, to mark the four pm chime in scrawl on the veins of her left hand. A ritual of safety. That’s how they met. He was gray and white with yellow eyes. Low to the ground and keen, he held a silent snarl between his teeth. Spotted peeking her head lowered, she did not reach past her hips any more.. Heedful, without making a sound, she turned her head slightly to the left. From her periphery, she saw his friend skulking carefully and quietly on the other side of them, low and snaking through the branches. Walking this clearing for the past five or six miles exposed them. It will be faster, she said. She already knew.

At least one branch had fallen and the wolf wouldn’t see it. He would step on it just as he was getting ready to pounce and she would be afforded an extra second that would propel her. She kept her eyes and head down. She inhaled and felt her pulse begin to thrum and warm her body in anticipation. She began to lift the balls of her feet. She began to clench her palms into fists and from her right, she heard the snap. From the left, she felt the hesitation. She knew there were only those two. She began to run. You could not hear them breathing. You could not hear their steps. You could only hear screech turn to scream and then only her own breath quickening in time with sprint. You could hear a flutter of wings above, one call and if you had time to look up, you’d see a flock of blackbirds pushed to movement from the violence.

But there is  no time to look up.

 

“The Woman Who Saw Her Own Death”

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“I have no future plans,” I began calmly.
      I am arms outstretched
walking nowhere but with
ardency so
I am labeled,
whimisical and manic
like a wound up
fairy, the character that
keeps the music box

spinning
that leapt from its
little gold coiled post
sprinkling glitter,
growing nerves and
ankles that bend flat
to walk to run to
crawl

people like me because I have no plans,
am honest about it, and
have wings that carry weapons.    I
hear in a distance
  someone repeat it

I use intimidation as a tactic to seize opportunity


Well, I also use black magic

“seven of cups”

I drove through
all of middle Earth
to get here;
to lean into the sharp points
of middle hurts.
in true poet’s parlance,

 I am rehearsed,
death, reverberating.
nothing but
kamikaze and the
soot palms that steer it,
practice typeface.
I smile to show you
some white.
I’ve got my cat suit on:

solid shoulders, strong,
curved back and a heavy head
that is full
      a blue cracking
heart to match.
I say where?
and you say
nothing.
smile to show you
my canines.
I come over wearing
everything I own:

a pack that stalks
and stays together in lunge,
a freshly oil-stoned
suit of knives and
the bled-dry opaline
home that I nest in,
my cozy coronation robe:
my clanking vest that
announces my arrival to
your home.

it is me
wreathed in
all my men’s
bones.

“Hecate” or “the red book”

I believe in wormwood,
dried root,
my brother’s ashes
in a silver heart or
a ceramic urn
locked in vase
locked in mirrored chest;
a chant, a poem.
datura when the time
is right.

sometimes I do ceremony,
sometimes I just let things pass.
we do that for others,
carry our grief quietly,
bury things deep
within ourselves.
but sometimes in a fit,
I spill over.
tell you everything.

you said
I like to swim
so I am braised with razor;
become a carnation lake
at your feet and
you said rain–
I like gardens.
so I condensed and
waited to show off my new arms
lined in fresh alyssum.
my cycle     I always meet them in
winter
where my only
light is moon.
my flowers blossom
under the chilled night,
drip a dark nectar and
I am thirsty and
you already know–
I believe in
altar.

I believe in overflowing
chalice.  you believe in
holding space for growl,
holding me with
distance.
you watch me lay the
dill in bowl, line the bed
with tourmaline.
run the bath with
chamomile and yarrow.
I am full of tincture now.
I can move like a jaguar:
slow and black and
hungry.
I am hard to see that way.
you said
I am game.

you’ve been watching
jaguars move,
you’ve been memorizing motion,
I drape myself in constellation
so you can better see me,
storm so you can better feel
me and I traipse across the forest
floor waiting to be found.
my tonsils growing
chelicerae,
my rib cage growing legs,
my bottom becoming fat
with thread and
I know what you like
and I know that
you are game.

you are writhing
game in tiny, tiny
snowflake threads
hung far above the
ground.
 switch places
I become the woods
encircling your howl.
you become the kicking,
breaking patch,
the river marked
by footprints, then
lost, then drowned.

in winter
it is long and dark
and hard to contain
myself
gorged with nectar
hidden by
the wind.
sometimes we do that for
others: hide our
spines.
you watch me prey;
sip the drip of
the effulgent crescent
bulb I worship.
you become the shivering
deer, caught fly,
gutted bunny hooked in

jaw.

I become the
scorned red bath,
the woods,
the bottom.

 

“datura moon”

“Strength does not have to be belligerent
and loud.”

I derive so much from one word.
pull from it.
it’s the synchronicity that
binds me and
the license plate that careened into the pole
instead of me that night read
“ prisons” and
I knew instinctively how
he felt.
tonight I’ll do:

a spring equinox meditation.
brush my teeth.
cut grapefruit for the morning
and ride the waiting out.
pay homage to my Pluto
and my Pisces in the
eight inning.
my Venus nestled in her
vindication, her frequent
illicit engagements kept dark
in that dusty
twelfth house,
but she found a clean mirror and
she is undoing her braids.

i’m becoming a panacea of my own:
memory, tincture, flowers everywhere,
the fuss of first love never leading anywhere but
here in another meditation
on the river walk.
draw my poems out of the older sutures:
undo, redress, pamper the wounds .
think about it.
send you a letter.
remember the way grief sits,
unsettled, right after dusk,
right under your chest,
right under your breath:
a blue river from your fingers.
send you that letter
with my wounds
pasted
 in the margins.

reminding you to
think about it

pay homage to your Venus.
she is out
casting cars into ditches
while you cautiously wait
for lights to

change.
you are holding selenite
in your pocket
but your fingers still
curve and you are still
smirking,
standing where they
are now
sitting and
wilting

in screams,
it was the way you asked
in a bit of a curtsy:
one more chance 

but you snap.
and they lose their

breath just like that.

“prisons” or “Venus in the 12th House”
or

“how guys save me in their phone”

smirk.

black lipstick and naked eyes and
lied about time when I asked her.
she looked at her wrist to
count the hearts but missed an
hour and she is
dulled,
not rusty but
blunt and I know
when she walked away,
her hand was

steadily sharpening.

 

“how guys save me in their phone #6”

perfunctory
and evil like a tease,
slow to build and
protected by sheer
want

an alarm.
a storm brims the coast
and you start writing down
anything you remember
about me.
I am undulating in great
tidal gasps; a siren
sights set on horizon,
humming low, humming
softly and
         come in closer
splayed across the break.

your arid soul is thirsty for the
new oasis I’ve become
but your obtrusive leaps
are doused in hex
before they ever reach me.
you are responsible for
some of this and
I am responsible for
that.
my bed is soaked
and I am angry.
black in vengeance cloaks
in white to walk the streets
the way furtive angels might.
you send me butterflies
at night
to assuage me.
I return the offer:

I dress in wings,
suck the nectar from the
dusk’s flowers,
learn her tales,
twist into my final form:
a long nightmare,
black hairy legs and
two tagmata,
one long dry choke
at the stroke of
3:33 every
morning onward.
you spend the year immured
in poetry and pieces
of half finished themes

obsessing over everything
you turn to see.
over everything you thought you
saw out of your
unrelenting periphery,
       how many twins do I own?
thought you
dreamed and wrote
down, unwind,
which moon did I come out of
and how many wolves
did I set free last night?
I become immune.

you become the
stranded calf in
my forest while
I spend the year
immersed in baths of
black obsidian and
forgetting what it
ever meant to
me.

“us, reversing”

the first thing I showed him was the callous
here look
and he licked it with his tongue
without questioning my need to
grip things so tightly
I’ve succumb to carpal tunnel,
arthritis, delusions of
grandeur and infancy.

has anyone ever talked to you about splitting?”
is what the doctor said to me once.
I was twisting the straw
in my fingers, contorting my
face and confessing things,
sometimes i like to shoplift.

“Who is Catarina?”

sometimes I like to fuck men with wives.

“splitting is a phenomenon in which you  sort of leave your body to allow another persona to take over.”

sometimes I like to punish bad boys.

“like possession?”

sometimes I like to peek at Christmas presents.

“no, more like split personality.”

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.


“the journal”

 

only two days ago
your hands wrapped around my throat
and tossed me on the bed
and still dutiful,
I am on my way
to pick up a bag of cutlery and dishes
for our house from the front porch
of a stranger’s
when I stop to admire the cracks
in the side of the building.
the wall is coral, faded but still
garish, stands out.
it’s brick and

this building has no doors and
one broken window.
these defects in the painted halls
lining my new city catch my
eye each time I run an errand
and I pay my respects in
photographs      stopping at each one,
trying to remember how the boulders
haunted too      how the ocean felt
on my wasted ankles at dusk when I guzzled
vodka Big Gulps and watched the
white crabs roam the bay.
watched myself dissolve into
the bits of me and can I remember
how the sunset looked draped over both
tide and flatirons,
hold two things at once
without favor?
how it feels to lose several
small countries you claimed.
I’m invaded.

these overcoats that rot
hold space;
there is natural beauty
here but it shines brightest
in demise.
these bricks are painted to distract from
it’s true inability
to keep a home  safe like
the way men have held me;
hugged with their claws,
I cracked at the touch     put my rosy shades on
I only see them
in their handsome sway.
I snap a picture of the edge of the broken
glass pane and the beginning of
the paint peeling into
white–the fissure.
I trace my finger
over a chip and watch
it flake.

how they left me.

“doors #1”

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