first, he showed me the block.
waved his hands over black ice,
concrete, gritted
      you know how to make things work

he walked several feet ahead as
we did a loop between two identical
intersections and stopped in a booth so
he could pay for the affection:
a vegan milkshake to soften
the contrast between two
nearly identical snow-lit
worlds; two winters in two
time zones but one was green and blue
and foothill-lined
and  one was bleak.
this one hung in the air:
gelid, tense, a dense and
mutable gray that changed from
partially cloudy to
biting fang
but what is more concerning is the
space between us.


I slurped the vanilla coconut cream
from the plastic straw without making
eye contact or anything known
and he laughed at the things
that just rolled off my tongue
in these little allayed fits. it was January fifth,
the middle of a
polar vortex and I hadn’t seen
the center of the city yet,
or west or anything but
Kensington.
I kept mumbling about the
loose trash  and he smiled.
my nose was running so
I spent the evening
in silence wiping it.
trembling, 
cradled in his iron abdomen.

all day long
I vacillate.  I set intention—
maybe I move a couple steps forward
or skirt one craving
and I applaud myself for days.
my knees get some desperate rest
or my body gets water
but it’s followed by immediate
withdrawal.
indulgence,  glutton
three walks:
four coffees, twelve cookies
and picking a fight.


cherished: my leisure,
my habits,beloved
hermeticism and my ability to make believe–
find  double meaning
of everything. I’m really just walking,
compulsive ambivalence.
I shrug.
sip the coffee

let the wind take me.

now I am
in Philadelphia,
with an Access card to
buy toilet paper. .
I am dog sitting; house sitting for
money in Queen Village,
and I spend the days
drinking their hazelnut flavored
Keurigs,
sneaking their chocolates.
using their washer for my own
heavy blankets,
and walking the pit bull
without the choke chain
she gave me.
I observe the doors of people
in Society Hill:
clean black or mahogany
with the numbers painted on
them or in brass next to their
outdoor lanterns, their empty
flower boxes soon to be leaking
zinnias, petunias, geraniums.
soon to be fingered,
picked by me.
I am obsessed with the material
possessions of others
and knowing I’m no good
marked this place for
later:

we should rob them.

begin to circle the area
with the pit bull
understanding clemency only
gifted to the few who
have smiles like
little sunshines
and white skin;
tanned but porcelain
otherwise.

“doors #1”

I carried little pieces of God
everywhere;
whittled pine needle,
robin feathers,
a baby garnet for luck.
besides the
straws, I liked
natural things; Earth

to touch during
sedentary moments
quell the fidget inside.
today, a pint-sized celestite
entertained my skittish fingers.
it was a part of a larger cluster,
but I liked the cyan sparkle
so I broke off a piece.

I am surrounded by repentance,
men with wolfish outlines.
“allies.”

I nod when they say
they feel a guilt greater
than their desire. I relate
having consumed an entire
night’s portion .before walking here.
when they want my approval,
they usually begin with things
like
I took advantage of her.

I cross my legs.

I am wearing brown tights, brown
heeled boots and a cream turtleneck
sweater dress.  my hair is
short, uncombed and strange.
I am mostly plain.
save light blush, mascara and
chapstick..
it is important as a woman
to catalog what you were wearing
and how you generally look
in any moment.
also I had gained some weight.

 when you tell the audience the story
they can gauge their reaction better.
were you homely, girl?

I was neither homely nor
exceptional, a frozen
brown blob blending
into the cream walls
and watching the blue chips
of nail polish flake onto
the floor. as he spoke
of his life of
trespassing,
I found my hands
to be urgent.

and remembering the whisper
of the woman who shushed
the last girl who shared her rape
in a room just like this,
I watched a speck of light blue
crystal join the floor.
saw the red swell and trickle
into a dot capping my finger:
blood     and   watched
the tiny celestite break.

“fury”

the way I held on
to five seconds of
an arm embracing me
near a cold window,
one stare;
red and in heat
all winter.
more

this demand grew
winding up my body
as I began to move furniture
in rave.
placed framed sentences
on every ledge.
all my items on sills,
every little thing I own,
to gaze at them
with gaped mouth,
blinds open under moon
if not hooded
and walking the three mile
perimeter outside.
rocks piled up on the table.
their effect on me terrifying
when glinting, silhouetted
or under influence of tincture.
at dusk, I was normally under
the influence;
large
and in loom.

every night,
the den was lit with 7 to
13  candles.
the place was pointy with
obelisks and shadow and
me, walking through
them, chanting.
repeating phrases.
burning pages
from a journal.

no recollection of what I
said or wrote
or asked for.
caged in my uncoerced
circle, tracing my finger over
cursive symbols
under the influence of
everything I touched
and everyone I once knew.
surrounded by 7 to
13 candles.

shackled
to an inky,
rising rage.

“the candles”

it’s in front of the Christmas tree
one week before you die,
alone and panicked by the
thought of mustering;
both mettle & words,
staring at white-frosted plastic;
pine dotted with uniform red balls
when I feel it.

it’s like cracking cement.

the tree only has two colors–
silver and red.
the ornaments of my childhood
gone; the plastic reindeer
that draped  like garland,
the candy cane painted with my
gold-glitter name down the center,
the felt snowman;
kind of gray,
stained by my cinnamon
bun fingers and cigarette smoke,
all lost with my yearbooks
and the oil painting of my mom.
the first and only letter
you ever wrote me
taken by the asbestos garage.
by the moisture from the dripping
ceiling,  by the mold.
by poverty: my enslaver.

I’ve been writing this for you
for about ten years
waiting for the day I’d be
by your bed to read the ending.
when my bargaining starts.
    (it’s just one breath)

this is where the poem begins. 

  1. (dad)

 i’ll remember you distant.
back turned save
the way you had to face
me momentarily
(when I was actually pleading),
your fingers laced
with blade to turn.
“I told you to…”

I’ll remember you as quietly
despotic and into yourself.

you’ll remember me as panic
unpassing, bleeding; a 

frenetic champion of unfurling
without witness,
your rival Phoeniix,
more quiet than you think
but less likely to withhold
my secret passion,
years practiced and likely earned.


got the agrimony and
ague root to prove it.
got the mirror laid.
old Hellebore & Belladonna
drawn in menstrual blood.
got a stone of yours,
your new name written clearly.
got a real belly laugh going.
got something that only gets
better with tantrum,
pain unbalanced,
time and space
(and pressure)

 to ruminate on ways unheard.

got something fixated;
an impulse
dressed with hearty
vengeance,dash of
cayenne pepper and
fresh dried herb.

“black magic”

but i’m a martyr for this,
I crave
repercussion;

even self-abnegation
needs an audience
or else it’s just plain masochism
                  lonely and caustic
without the gentle recompense,
the moist poultice,
the final amends:
the touch of her
sadist’s fingertips
after she laid her.

all cathedrals use pain as payment
and my crucifixion,
while self inflicted;
is just as spilling brook,
and baneful.
my bloodletters will wash
the splashes from my feet,
take their time
with each laceration;

stitch
my gashes
into temples.

“Lilith”

I remove the rest of my top
and close my eyes deliberately
to show you the length
of each thorn.
wear my eyes like a hooked rose.
tongue pressed
against your chin,
my lips trace
your jaw       I am softer.
having been tempered
and forced close:
you know,
darling,
let my teeth hit your lip

I have never
become divine without first
becoming storm.

 been learning
performative emotion
to keep the ones I’m fettered
to warm, and to feel their
slippery manacles tease
the tops of my feet
like feathers as they pull
me back.
paint my lashes black


and they’re wet 
and
shaped like little
bolts.

1.

deep breath.

I carry tempest in my
lungs,  a cold black murmur
that hooks it hums
in earthworms and writhes
to surface after rains
winding street lamps to
devour them like dirt cake.
I hit the corner as
you are walking up.


the light goes out
and somewhere near
a tire screeches drowned
by the sharp inhale
you take when
a cyclist scrapes his tire
on a criss-crossed track
and spins into a tumble
that splits his helmet
on a bumper and someone
screams: are you ok?
(this city is full of
accident lately).
I stand still on
the flashing yellow,
not afraid but respectful.
your hands are clenched
in pockets waiting for
the red, face turned away.


I’d been walking slowly,
wearing cotton sundress and
consenting saunter.
a practice.
my hips are wide,
lips are pursed and
I am quiet, light and
diffusive but lucky for this
place mostly mired in
my own insides.
there are twelve dogs
with meat in their eye
nearby choking on their
collars.

I am wearing a blue alyssum
in my hair but
you will know me either
by my touch
if in enough of a rush and
close proximity to brush
an elbow with a thumb,
or the sudden sun I permit:
open laughter near your
chin, grabbing you
with force,
inordinate apology
for the accidental brush
and really everything,
moist I’m sorry spills over
my freshly-done, pink
velvet lips as we collide.
wait for green or
similar direction.
there are sirens in the distance.
I open my mouth
to say this city is full
of accident lately,
isn’t it?

you?
you will know me by
my fang-toothed smile.

“morphic resonance”

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”

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