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”

I am thinking of culpability
as it relates to
feelings towards me.
I am thinking
you’re thinking
what’s the probability
I still hold grudges and
what’s the likelihood
I save a thing that any
man has given or said to
me, but we also have to examine
formula so you
reverse and see the way

 

I move at night first.
foremost, you have to
ask yourself whether my stasis
is truth or lie, and if all
perpetrators love getting
caught what does that mean for
us? and starting to feel myself
dissolve into the walls,
I become
first so large I cannot be unseen,
and then with a snap of
my fingers, a panel
blending in like camouflage
with the cracks along my walks.
I could not stop myself
from seeking; even in
chill, I could go from one
end of town
to the other.
like a slow exhale.

when the city closed the
streets for the pope,
I walked from Frankford and
Allegheny to 30th and Market,
having also biked it first.
even though we lacked the
snow capped hills,
something about spending an
entire two months
watching for black ice and cars
even at red lights,
hearing them skid,
thrilled like the slipping
over jagged rocks.
and being watched daily
by a nemesis and every man in this
town really made it feel much
more weighted
and at such a shifting
ponderance. there were
glades of icicles
to wade through,
my hamstrings so strong
towards the end of
February, my fingers
like wrinkled rulers
measuring the space
between neighbors,
the circumference of
baseball sized holes in
windows, the sting of
locked knobs,
and

crippled by the straws
I clutched ungloved.

 

“February/February/July”

 

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”

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’m in the doctor’s office
trying not to laugh
as he keeps pressing me
“what was your father like?”
I don’t have time quite frankly.
this man is asking me if I ever
feel like I am watching myself from
outside of my body.
I say sincerely,
sounds like you think I’m a ghost.

I’m trying not to laugh.

he is outlining various traumas
I may have experienced in my life:
my drinking,
my family’s drinking,
my previous assaults by men.
we talk MS, autoimmune
components.
we talk allostatic load,
latency of neglect,
the firing of nerves.
the confusing compression.
I’m just talking about the mirror
and gesturing a lot to the air
about the fact I asked for it
and then my legs went numb.

that was the first time,
I say.
when I asked for her to enter me.
before, she did it without asking.
I nod as if he is
answering the questions.
    get on it with then.

Sir, I am possessed.
I don’t have time for this.
I stand up,
suddenly able to walk again.

 

“LILITH”

 

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”

I have a recurring vision
of me on the ground
twisting string in my fingers,
delirious and the street
lights have exploded and
I swear I can’t breathe,
I swear I’m not forsaken,
I swear I renounce all evil in me.
tell him that my legs are jelly.
sir, I cannot walk anymore,
I repeat to EMT that refuses to
give me oxygen and
you materialize, screaming
I am praying for you.
you are not making it happen.
you are seeing it first. 

wait, back up,
that’s too complex.
the little girl is doing
cartwheels in front of a small
blond child but when she sees
me looking again.  she skips in
a circle and smiles.

I know never to bet on
anything that talks
so I push the whole thing
aside, keep walking,
feel a bone in my knees
bend.

“nine of wands”

I start taking wagers on who
shows back up first
knowing it’s wrong to bet
on anything that talks
and quite frankly,
you can’t,
Mrs. Shepherd told me in the 12th grade
during AP stats, still proud I aced that
class but you can’t stop
a sociopath
from never feeling again,
can you?
I say to him.
I have a Smith and Wesson.

but I add
people think angels can’t have
guns and
that’s not true,
hand him the weapon.
we just can’t fire them.
hold it.
get comfortable with it.

pink collar says
PRINCESS, I’m wearing
antlers and a dirty blonde
wig.  mock latex bodysuit
that rides my hips and
I am
only half bitch
three inches from you
on the bed and
half loading bb bullets
in the cartridge and
plainly  drawing up
variables marked
xxx.

laugh out loud
cuz they
don’t really get it yet.
it’s not just execution.
it’s not just
having the arsenal
but where to put it.
pull back my curtain,
show him the basket
with the blue calcite,
the burned scripture,
the crown.

 

“formula #1: inference”

 

there are two giant
bruises on each thigh.
I am careful not to hit them
with my fingers except
I already have
and I shriek.
you don’t even ask.


I spent most of my time
that late winter
searching.
what you would say:
combing through options,
in flux and in search of
weight.
and some guy,

a stranger
in my house, said to me
after I had given him reiki
for money, for rent,
for phone bill,
smirking on my apartment floor:
“Smile.” and added.
“What do you look like naked?”
and added
“How much to see?”

and I stood tall and robust
like a weed in Kensington’s
concrete garden:
stepped on but
won’t go away
and  then
suddenly growing
into a gun.
not only that,
but suddenly
making rent.
fuck.
ok.

you don’t even ask. 

“doors #5”

the first card I pull is the Magician.
say nothing about it.
my couch is stained from cat vomit
and chocolate ice cream
and smells
like fresh linen spray.
I am uncomfortable
at all times, at all
hours of every day
and this is no exception.
I am trying not to look in
the mirror behind  you and
focus on the red wine in the glass,
bottle on altar, not comment
on eye color, guess placements without
ado, turning over cards to let you
know.

 

I try to explain to someone one day
what I am seeing in the mirror.
no one is there, I say this first
to myself on a walk
around, pass a little girl in pink dress.
fuck.
a haze, like a fog surrounding my body
begins to build and my voice,
almost like it’s been previously
recorded and then played back,
comes through me and I have to
repeat what she says.
but sometimes the track is off
so I am two seconds ahead of myself
and it’s hard to watch.

 

wait, stop, back
up. I’m muttering I think.
too complex.
stop myself when her brother looks.
no, don’t tell him that.

Australia looks better than Alaska.
that’s all I say.
we have some wands between us.
that’s all.
keep it to myself:
predicting
deaths of
others
and also
practicing
hugging people
when they walk
in the room.

 

“the magician”

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