I am up by dawn, or close
to it, again.
thinking this is what true love
is doing; proving habit,
demanding morning study.
this has happened before and
every time it happens,
it is strengthened so much so
that what has woken me is
an old phrase you said to me.
I could hear you fumbling with it;
an act of reflection while in stalemate.
how long can obstinacy maintain the
buoyancy of flight?
I am learning to stay fresh and put
and you are summarizing yourself
with an inaccuracy that doesn’t
need me yet.

I heard you rereading it one morning
to yourself, no doubt
questioning your word choice
as I stretch, be careful what you
say.
but I know what you meant.
and I know what you like.

there are rules to this though.

“the act of naming things”

information is power so
I ask the time and place
and day and I hold
back some ecstatic clapping
for the willfully delivered
emblem that I now braid back
into me.
I feel most secure in holding
someone by their neck and
forward and possibly in
creeks of ice asking
are you pious, son?

but never believing,
I strum my chords at night,
fanatical.
once missing, now
draped in beads of
declamation, afloat.
I’m white like creeks of ice
you lay your head upon and
cough the yes, I am devout.
I become the pew for them.
I become the papacy.

you become the tether tight
laid across my city bench,
suddenly engrossed in rosary
again.
as I begin to watch the men
dig holes into my
ground like clocks to measure
the dagger of a willful
mind devoted to one outcome,
you press your hands into
the ice to feel water
rise up.

“the pupil”

it was lush, green and wet. a dewy late morning and I was well dressed for the season. face mask, hat, black jacket, black leggings, comfortable bright orange shoes so cars won’t hit me at night. she led the way having been here before which I prefer. not always oppositional, when it comes to other women, I defer.  the trees were budding so still a bit sparse but their leaves were coming in bright where they were. no flowers yet but the idea of them drove me outside daily despite the news. the smell of jasmine and honeysuckle always smell the same to me so that I find joy in discovering which is which. as a child, I spent days with my best friend licking the nectar from the honeysuckle that grew along my fence.  along long beds of clovers to the side of us, skunk cabbage grew big and juicy, glistening with last night’s rain..I always wanted to be an insect. anytime I stepped into the woods, I wanted the smallest world immediately. to watch the detritus recycled. to watch the tiniest survivals and battles. to be the millipede among them. I always thought like that. like anything was stopping me from bending down and sliding my tongue along the long leaves or like I wasn’t pint sized and shrinking.

we didn’t go far just far enough to stretch and get some use of ourselves, get out of the house. to take down our masks. to breathe freely in public.

“do you want to stop here?” she asked.

a valley in the middle of trees.  I squatted down in the center of a patch of dirt and roots in front of a tiny creek with a little nature made bridge, a fallen log, to cross. remember throwing the jasper in the stream.  things I can’t name are always lingering. they are felt like chords rippling from me but felt strongest when being cut one by one.  a sudden electric vibration emits as they fall away and I am left holding one end, or rather, letting one end stay suckled to me. my making or the hook in mouth I fell for.  I picked up a stick and drew the R big.  I made a deal to write it.

R. I drew not so big but with a steady hand so
it was neat and almost cursive.
it could get rained on and stomped
on, but there was my indent.
and  I stated louder.

“I call Lilith first.”

I looked up at my companion.  it is not austerity. it is commitment. loyalty is love’s true manifestation.I still have every recitation I’ve ever honored, somewhere. these things stay suckled to me like little violent chords I strum when people disappear. when I’m watching clocks at night, I take my finger and I press. it is not austerity for honor but rather commitment to an end. the pious aren’t lonely, just waiting. 

“What does Lilith represent?” she asked me, standing, looking down.

I was most comfortable in mud as a kid. now, I am just trying not to touch my face.

“Her myth precludes that she was the first woman on Earth who rejected Adam as he tried to force her beneath him in missionary. she left to mate with demons in the sky instead.”

(there was more that I said in the chant but it is private the way things are private among friends.)

“Oh yeah. We need her,” she laughed.

we both laughed. we both laughed and I put the twig in my pocket. I still have some of my oldest recitations. shells from my first home. dirt from the catacombs somewhere. got pieces of pieces grown quite lush like well drunk ferns.

“the pious”

covered in hot water and onslaught,
broken
like the bed we used
to make it in,
found shade in shower.
  wanted to skin myself
to get rid of your fingerprints
but I didn’t want to be noticed
either.    instead
I sat cross-legged
in the tub for 45 minutes
to steam some of it out.
it was a waste of water
you might have said.

I usually go to bed by ten pm
swathed in cheap sheets I picked up
from a trash can: moth-bitten
and low thread count and I washed them
but you’re right it’s a sense of self-deprivation
I wrap myself tightly inside
while I’m
tortured by my low self worth,
absent flowers, cold feet,
lamp on next to me and
wax all over the unfinished table
you were making
before I threw the chair you had finished
down the stairs to get you to
open up
here is what I need
I might have screamed
if I was better at controlling my
“communication”
but it ended in a soft bite to your
neck and a cloying kiss
you can tell has been rehearsed
time and time again.
it’s heavy;
my tongue large with
little darted lullabies

I’m up now and I
linger in the hallway,
nothing in my hand,
wave in my throat
watching the front window;
voice hushed and brusque
and barely noticeable
when I finally move to speak
to make my command on Earth,
withdrawing as it creeps
from its host;
like low tide,
like you

your sudden
retreat.

“February”

what does all of this
mean to you?
she waves her hand
to no one. 

you say it’s important,
ask me to tell it in
“linear order”
but how can I get away with
things telling stories like
that? and besides,
I have survived time
and cage and aged
in linear order.
my proof
    (flex a ripped tricep)
is endless strength,
brimming veins
that have learned how to
vibrate, hum, cluck,
even whistle when your girl
walks by me       I’m
a snake

through her core
and now all you see is a doe
gored in your forest and
I got to eat the whole orchard
I asked for.
are you lost or
just quiet, just hiding
from the butcher inside
it?
you know I’m dense,

ice cold, flush with
forked tongue ready to puncture
someone,     i’m lush;
maintaining a sense of
dam and containment
even in my most berating
fits of temper or panic,
I manage to remain
frozen these days
like a cracking lake
you say I am
sharp and

bitter.
but underneath my skin,
that blue-lace casing,
a carnise river:
little tributaries to
the turning of the world
in linear delivery.
and you say
full of rage     and I say
ok, just wait,

you and I are from
the same place
and I start to pace
the block once more. 

III.

 

sitting on the edge of the bay
on a borrowed blanket,
I was vomiting up
an Everclear Slurpee
and some sort of philosophy
about the closing of the day;
the way it moved
death,
like an itinerant wave
that followed me
everywhere.
the tide crept back
and I heard you cough,
felt myself starting to drown again
and then your hand on my thigh
and then nothing at all. 

pain subsides in very
miniscule amounts
of time
if  you don’t
repeat the
story. 

do not repeat the story

“how to be a river”

or

sit in it.

“how to be a lake”


and turning to you again, I
implore you to pick a title and
stick with it.   for me, I say:
do you like warnings or do you
like to drown?

I think at some point
you have earned the right to say
I know already because you lived it
without acquiescing to
authority so I asked
to see it first:
the river’s mouth,
even though they said
I’d never make it.

“warnings”

“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”

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”

She took her time. Each stroke became longer and more sparkly. It wasn’t necessary but dramatic as was the theme and when he come up behind her to hug her, she smiled in the mirror. She patted her lips one more time letting the blue shimmer by candlelight, washed her hands and returned to the party. The back stairs were set with alternating black and white candles, twelve each and the entire backyard was covered with string lights so everything twinkled.

“Don’t you think this is dangerous?” she asked, waving her hands over her Mary Janes pointing to each votive on her way to the bonfire.

A lavender laced joint was being passed around.
“We are doing it again.”
“What?”
“Thirteen stories.”
“No.”
“Yes.”

“So,” Petesia clapped his hands together and went over the rules for the newcomers as she took her seat. “One person starts–they set the theme. Last year it was ‘Video Game or Nightmares’ and we were supposed to guess which is which after each story. This year…”

Osiria cut him off, “This year we have no theme because we haven’t started.”

Timidly, Ava cut in, “Isn’t the theme Shakespeare in Space?”

Orb laughed loudly next to her and Jelinda shot a glare his way.

“Well, it’s a Midsummer’s Night Space Dream but the theme of the stories and game can be anything,” Petesia said.


“So this is how it works,”Osiria immediately turned her attention back to the circle. “Someone starts the story. The person who starts set the tone; the theme of the story and the rule of the game. We go around until we get to thirteen. Since there’s now only ten of us, three people will go twice. The last person has to end the story that the first person started.”

“What’s the catch?” “Mr.” asked taking the joint from Ophelia.

“It’s got lavender in it,” Cat said.
“No, with the game.”
“Well, legend has it that whoever it ends on is cursed.”
“Mr.” passed the joint to Pan.
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.”
“Annnd…” Petesia interjected.
“Annnd, we make you tell us the weirdest thing about you .”
“Ohhh, cool!”
“Well we did that before.”
“Or you have to confess all your secrets.”

Pan passed the joint back to Cat who winked at Petesia quickly.
“Or maybe act out the story for us.”
“That’s not all, “ Petesia pointed at Artemis letting his fangs shine.
The crowd waited.
“The story comes for you,” he winked, not at Artemis or Ava but at Cat. “And it comes to life.”
Osiria grabbed the joint from Pan before he could take a drag.
“Who wants to start?” she said. “I start almost every year so I’m trying to pass this time.”
“Oh you play every year?” a woman in a fairy costume asked.
She had named herself “Eliza.” Petesia and Osiria nodded at her.
“We try to keep them kind of short though,”Osiria looked at Artemis.
“There’s only ten of us, “ Marco said, circling to the group.
“Three people will go twice, “ Cat turned to gently remind him.
“I’ll go first!” Artemis cheerfully volunteered.
“Really?” Osiria shot her a look.
“Yeah, I love games!”
“So…” she rubbed her hands together and looked at Petesia across the fire. “The first story is called…The Woman Who Walked for Miles.”

“The 13th Story”

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