I think at some point
you have earned the right to say
I know already because you lived it
without acquiescing to
objective authority. 

I asked to see it first:

the river’s mouth,
the sky bordered in torrent and
my envisaged pout,
my omniscient frown.
even though they said
I’d never make it,
it’s been a lot this far.
two fucked knees but
a back strong from bundle
an
d

I never said I didn’t
deserve it,
just that I could outrun it
if they gave it.

“the flood”

this was years ago.
the first time I told them about it.
sitting on the edge of the bay
on a borrowed blanket, 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.
taken by the dirt under my thumbnail,
the coil of a plastic straw and
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 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,
nails in my skin,
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,
budding inability to swallow (we’re there)
blood. blood. a girl that follows me
and only me, everywhere.
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,
(despite your fear of frozen lakes,
we advise you when the time comes–
between Australia and Alaska,
Alaska will be more safe):

do you like warnings or do you
like to drown?

“warnings”


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”

there you are.

Saturdays and the 1 pm
alarm clock on 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,
to showeronce a week
if you’ll allow yourself to feel warmth.

graze your chin, scalp,
untouched chest.
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 in grin,
(you’re vulnerable)
tights and boots;
an expansive blankness
still drives your body around
to pick up soy milk for coffee.

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,
unfrozen and
burgeoning.

there you are.

“rage” or “the fifth wave”

only two days ago
your hands circled my throat
to toss me on the bed.
still dutiful,
merely dotted with color,
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
garish,  still stands out.
it’s brick and

this building has no doors and
one broken window.
each time I run an errand,
these defects catch my eye
and I pay my respects in
photographs.
I’m trying to get my memory back:
      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.


the way men have held me:
(invaded)
all claws of resplendent mortar
and cracking at the edges
even with the scrape of thumb.
I snap a picture of the broken
glass pane and the beginning of
the first layer peeling into
white; the fissure.
trace my finger
over a chip and watch
it flake onto the sidewalk.
snap a picture of
that with my boot
in the corner of the frame.
things to remember us
by: namely,

the way
things have
left me after once
holding me inside;
cracked, split,

unable to safely hold someone
inside
but repainted a bright shade
for the pleasant gazes of
unknowing passersby.

“doors (#3)”

ah, a whole day of cravings
curbed. feeling lighter,
drinking coffee out of
gifted blue and white porcelain cups,
enjoying as it sustains and suppresses
an appetite.
I am cataloging
food as it relates to money.
the less I eat.
the more I save for
other things.
I do not tell my partner
this; merely produce
cash for electricity,
merely thin myself
like I’ve always earned
to be a paper waif.
just kind of
feather away.

realize that my bank account has
nothing in it for the third time in
my life.
the way I cradle the welcome
gifts from his mother,
these dishes, these pots:
all bright tangerine or
carnation yellow, and
red bowls.
red plates.
orange sequined quilt
across the bed.
care for them like they are
children.

she decorated the place while we were out
“making meetings.”
hung a portrait of a pineapple
in the kitchen.
he reminds me
none of this is yours.


I hated the stairs that cut through the center
and the backyard, too small
now lined with green safety fence,
chicken wire, he held up to show
me.  ways to keep the cat
safe inside.
months later, I will
take it down,
pluck out all of
the crabgrass in the tiny
backyard by hand, no gloves,
appreciating how quickly
my skin calluses,
the encasement for my
straws but utilitarian today,
productive today,
making things happen today.
the way I threw away the
windchime and its broken shells
littering the ground like it
meant nothing to me:
a childhood emblem I’d
had since I was eight,
tossed in a large black
carpenter bag.

none of this is mine.


all the ways I’ve entered
contracts on a whim,
the things I’ve collected
and the interminable slam
of a door or my body
as I show my thorns.
I’m remembering
every step I’ve ever
taken; steep,
knees fractured,
ribs protruding,
crippled by both indecision
and unabating pacing.

and don’t forget
the time he slammed you
on the bed.

“doors #1”

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”

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”

which helps me to
instruct myself.
better not staid;
better fitted to be flitting
from corner to corner while
bossing them around but
what I tell you is truly
inconsequential.

merely I am pressure
of depth and that I believe it
so
having told you first
with conviction, I begin again
to frame it.
legs crossed on the carpet,
hands out in imposition.
the wood mantle lit
and rearranged, objects
of sentimentality removed
so any backhand can’t
sweep it.

it’s important that my personal items
are kept away from the circle,
and maybe once I didn’t believe
but falling victim to your
own enchantment and
in such a way that you’re
riveted for entire minutes
by wax on the carpet
making meaning of the
sickle F shape; tracing it
with black, toasted fingers,
room wafting in the smoke
of rosemary,
you begin to care about
which stones are set and
things like that.
hands out:

first, you will be looking
up to notice
the sky dark but glittering
with stars
so the whole place
around you is lit up
and there are friends nearby.
I say this directly to the
picture jasper draped in the
thread of my necklace;
the glyph of Lilith.
and add a promising
hopefully,
as in with a little
upward inflection.

I got a pocket full of
them and I’m banking on
that so I say it twice
with anticipation:


ojala.

1.

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”

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