it feels like
government fingers
and pricked skin,
veins everywhere.
an interrupted sleep
and a train coming by,
every fifteen minutes or so.
and cold.
I hate gloves
so my bare fingers trace
the pole,

I named the feeling
of living in Philly
gray but this particular
day is 

“allegheny station”

your house was yellow.

my house was blue and
a ten by ten box;
me trapped,
torn between watching them
pack up their stuff
from their own pact to self,
their own inculpability,
fragile glass faces
slightly cracked and me,
stunned,dripping a
flattening virulence,

telling them about themselves,
breaking and then
pushing them out.

I really miss your hands on me.
the way you held me in
sullen incubation.
I remember the oldest incantation:
the thrust I was given,
some gleaned anticipatory luck:
      God gave you a chance and

              an unfinished smile.

we needed a spark.
I grin full tooth to show you
my new porcelain canines.
now the frame is melting
and so am I
in the cradle of tar black trees,
I fight the urge to bow
and suddenly tiptoe
all around you;
two inches taller than you remember
and my tongue hits your neck
like a quill.

hold your breath,
I say and
I’m a smokeshow, they say.
for some other current to take me.
bite your skin.
let the tips of my
fingers dig in and

  there are no exits.


“when the terror becomes unbearable,
the other becomes God.”
–Louise Gluck

confinement can be comfortable.
felt familiar in
the grip of load:
my chains
hung from me like the tail
of my self-throned
coronation robe

when I hoisted myself
on self and made policy about it,
my divination crumbled in it’s cell.
started at my temples,
made my crown;
the veil that obscured
the trail of my widow’s march
following the scent and
stepping lightly down the roads
that my men roamed further apart
from each other to leave me
in pieces in rows in their
new lovers’ homes.
on a shelf,
freshly dusted,
gilded by the yellow dust
of whatever stamen she picks.
I was mired in sudden freeze,
then implosion,
then retraction of amends
and I came

full at them
hook in mouth like
hungry lure.

“Doors #11”

the skulk,
need for slow chase.
salivation with a .
wide open stance,
arms spread,
lips like decanter,
it is with love that I do this.
oh, you always say that.

*snaps* to wake
up.   tips a holy red,
I begin to grow inches and
let my naturally long nails
trail the arms of strange
wool peacoats on my way to
the El or nowhere.
just circling Girard for fun.

It’s the beginning of December.
and I made rent.
I sort of grimace as
I sway the town, head to
toe in unbought clothes,
heeled boots,
hips flexed and
recently fucked.

let my hand hit the elbow
of an unsuspecting man,
unfucked, soon to
be turning around and
catching a flash of my
back, purple mock wool
and  hear the clack
of my shoes walk
it is with love
they say.

“the honey trap”

I am protected.

I am wet and giant
and shaking from the
I am the midnight ocean
birthed from the absent sun
taken over by the
full moon’s rage.
I am 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
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

“reversing” or “us”

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,
from sheets to
cushions to sheets
to type it down,
to shower
once a week
if you’ll allow yourself to feel warmth
graze your chin, scalp,
untouched thighs.
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:
tights and boots and an expansive
blankness that still drives your body around
after work to get soy milk,
make polenta for lunch,
take out the compost,
take out the trash,
finish something you once started
when it was
skirts and cherry blossoms,
some organic laughter and a patient optimism
that seems unvisited but should be
worked out by now.
sometimes it is actually raining.
it is harder than that too:
cold and cramps and no tissues
or pads and an anniversary coming
that stings
and does not let go.
and you do hear from them
but with expectations.
you have wrapped yourself tightly
in some binding perseverations
so you constrict yourself,
restrict your errands, and bleed openly
on the carpet.
and sure, there is hunger,
but it’s quick and
you succeed in a relatively
docile surrender.
so what is there outside?
sometimes it is a blizzard.

then it’s flowers and unexpected showers
but it is day longer, sun higher,
you are not mired in the date of departure
anymore, and you forgive the monsoons.
your sensualizing emotions present themselves:
the gloss and black tips,
hips in sheer nylon,
a gentle sway.
sometimes it is unseasonably warm
and you have to hold your cardigan in your hand\
but you have managed a smile
and some sense of buoyancy
and dragged someone along
with the sleeves of
your unworn sweater.
you get lucky:
they want to take the
long way and you have a tendency to
suddenly rush things.

you are both broken
doe and the trap laid
for their arrival.

“ambush” or “8th house”

lick the salt from the crest
underneath my elbow
where the flesh is softest
and my nerves are most
on end.
it’s a spot I never tell
them about.
you feel something in me,
something growing,
you know I’m antsy
itching to grow the
space between us large enough
to span separate states
and you
let your lips rest there.

the polar vortex
has passed:
it’s Saturday
and the sun is out.
I am lying on my side
facing a bookshelf
that is only
half unpacked
nearest the crack in the
window and I feel a
breeze.   I hear
a sparrow call me.
I hear a car pull away
and feel a wet tongue trace
the blue vein underneath
the skin of my arm
in wonder,
my hands contain
a spate and yet
you hold them,
drunk from my fingertips.
I hear you say the slow word
I strangled:
s t a  y.
and the sun is


you’ve tired of her.

her proletarianism without true
protest           feigned theses and
shallow interests, a light
encroaching hum that spins into
white noise in the background while
you begin to obsess over another actress.
she can taste your indifference
in the space left of the mattress.
and anyway, you’ve been watching
tigers move.

you’ve been memorizing motion.
you’ve been stating needs and retreating
and she’s been stepping closer.
where’s the knife inside of you?
I say and
I’ve been eavesdropping.
I’ve been spinning webs.

you’ve been seeking the hunt in cats
and I’ve been catching mice
as traps
to rip it from your
nervous breath.


She put her makeup on slowly. She wanted it to be correct. Never quite flawless, she was more adept at wearing graceful missteps to humanize herself in public. Tonight, she moved slowly. She paid attention to the brow bone, the jaw line, her full lips, all of her best features.  She stopped applying the powder to stare. The blush she chose was dark; a shimmering burgundy that ran across her face and cheekbones in the shape of a bruise– untidy but organic. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear examining the soft, honey waves falling over her shoulders first as they moved with her fingers, with the light twist of her neck, and then again as they settled over her clavicle. She wanted to see what she looked like as she approached in stillness and in motion.

“That took too much time,” she said out loud.

Moving her head back and forth in a slow no gesture to see what she looked like disagreeing, she could feel and see the skin of her lips cracking. She eyed the chapstick on the shelf but wet her lips with her tongue instead. We must move on. There was nothing she did for anyone without motive and no one was around to touch them yet. Setting the bamboo brush on the sink, she ignored her dry mouth and unyielding thirst to pick up the mascara. Carefully, she applied the wand to the eyelashes of her left lid and then immediately stopped to examine herself again. Unbundled and free, her thoughts had been leaping ahead of her. They were constant, persistent  and biting. Sometimes they were mean. You will never make it. It was distracting. They were being seized by something else (you will never make it); something distant, either imaginary or future she could never tell, but something tugging at her sleeve. Look behind you. She stopped applying the mascara to reach for the twisted, plastic straw from the sink’s ledge and began twirling it in her fingers on instinct.  Letting herself be overtaken by the fake memory; the fake way he held her, the fake way he smiled, the fake way it felt, she felt the rush in her chest.

“Stop it,” she barked at herself.

Staring at the mirror once more, she held her own gaze in trance.

“My name is Catarina Kacurek,” she practiced again.

She said it a couple more times out loud until she was satisfied with the way it felt rolling off her tongue. Naturally. Nodding, she put the straw back on the ledge and began to apply the mascara to the right lid’s eyelashes. It’s always like this. She couldn’t see the clock in the bedroom and was thankful. I’m late, she knew. Taking her time anyway, she could still feel the electric bubble running up her spine underneath to announce its arrival, announce its bones were growing over her bones into a grove of wands. I have things to do. She set the mascara neatly back in her makeup bag and pulled out the eyeliner. Dragging the skinny black pencil across the top of her left lid first, she felt a breeze, a draft from a hidden place to the left of her. As she fawned over herself inside, pretending he was next to her complimenting her as she coyly licked the cherry gloss from her lips, she let him praise the way her eyes grew from small and doting to big and black and full of infirmity. She let him kiss her cheek and she closed her eyes to feel it, his light kiss that held no real urgency. She felt his lips part near the corner of her mouth. She could feel his tongue poke out a little as she turned to meet him before she heard a car backfire a few blocks over. Goosebumps trickled up both arms. He was gone and she was gone too.  She opened her eyes to see the pencil was now in the drain in a pool of tiny drops of water. In her spine, her bone grove of smoke and scream and sudden life, she felt it. She stared at the pencil, now damp, not ruined but damaged like everything she owned. He was not with her in the bathroom. He was not with her. To clear her throat, her desert dry throat that desperately needed attention, she let out a tiny cough. She came back to life.

“My name is Catarina Kacurek,” she began, facing the mirror.”May I come in?”

She held it there, in her reflection, her dirty blonde and olive complexion not unlike her original self but twisted, distorted slightly like the way it feels when you finally see yourself without a mirror. You’ve been looking at yourself backwards. She was looking at herself angled her whole life; angled smirk, angled eyebrow lift, angled posture. Manicured and yearning and looking more nubile lately, she began wetting her lips again with her tongue. Her lips tasted like plastic fruit and she laughed aloud to see her smile lines so she could once again hide them when the time was right. She laughed aloud and the car backfired again but she expected it now.  Her spine grew. She let herself feel the backfire of every other thing in the distance.

when it came to me
you said I was all
 muscled positivity
as if I didn’t hang myself once before;
as if I didn’t try to tell you

how cavernous a grin is,
or anything at all.
even though you are never sure I won’t
find that perfect bedsheet knot
or not or a razor
or a kitchen knife
or a drunk night on the freeway and I’m
headfirst in the cement mixer
but I made it out of that
in jail but alive and I am
always palms clasped and grateful.
you say   you pray
with FERVOR  as I finger the locket,
my brother’s ashes clasped
around my throat
and I hold onto
that same little lie
about choice.

I let go of the wild lavender
sprouting from your toes through
the hints of splattered paint.
there’s a meadow in your abdomen
coaxing foxes from their
holes    your knees knock mine,
sudden sting         close and sharp
  the way memory sits on your skull
then pulled back
how you held me
far away sometimes;
making wind happen
blowing kisses from the pines.
the bath is on, I’m cold.
you always say
I’m cold.
I beckon to the side:
you and I are from the same
arctic sky.
help me in so I feel
the frost of your fingertips
trace me;

my broken back to you now.
my nails are brown tipped and filthy
from digging myself out of my ancestral
grave and I’m spattered in the ,
sweat from a hard night’s day,
walking alleys, stalking shadows
and you’re truly unremarkable
these days save
the mosaic of carpenter’s paint,
some gray cement
garden: no flora, no fauna,
and even God told me to pause  
and rest on my previous laurels
before I get carried away.
but i’m a martyr for this,
I crave repercussion

I become a
yawning, clanking watering can
spritzing your open lips,
dolling up your stolid ground
to birth your stories:
pollen murals out of micro gestures,
extinguished longing that suddenly reignites and
I’m grabbing cattails from the gales to
comb out the tangles of your childhood
   tell me about your father
fistfuls of mud    planting seeds in the
tiny cracks around your chest that my own
sharp-toothed grief left when you
muttered the first
no  and I stepped a few
years back.
freedom will teach you how
to stay in all new ways.

there is no difference
between love and liberation
and some were born saints,
you say as you help me
in the mugwort bath,
the smell of rose and geranium
circling the tile.
I plucked the petals and dropped them
one by one for aesthetic.
not free of indulgence, but
patient   your fingers make
stems in the water
and I guess I am waiting
for something.

“the swell”

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