It just started where it started, an ending. That’s how things usually spark: the motion of getting up from the table, lowered head so you only see the eyelid, the silencing of gesture and voice and argument. There’s nothing left to say. You remember that painted eyelid.

You remember the back of someone; black slicker, lined in polyester, practical, utilitarian, good for rain and snow and gray, cold days and you remember it because it represents the deepest part of them; their practicality and planning.  Pragmatic even in display, they were fact-based, ruled by thought and precise in many ways. Always wearing sneakers. Always wearing layers. You remember the interminable door slamming shut as your hand flies off the knob and you leave her sitting there, not stunned or surprised but gently mourning in the capsize.

“Would you say I’m frank?” she asked me.

That uneven smile and eyebrow and posture. Her constant vacillation between sainthood and possession that she spit at me in fragments, expected me to consume it, volley back, hold it, remember, care.
“Yes.”
.I’ll remember her inquisitiveness and quiet generosity where no one saw and with no explanation, I saw, a life she tried to save. She will remember me by my one-word answers and the canyon they tried to fill. But I didn’t expect to see her like that.
“Do you believe everything I say?”

The room was full when I walked in, quiet. Because I was late, she ushered me in and told me to keep my voice down. I had expected to be turned away but this was my second visit and I meant well, didn’t I? I had just started this treatment to help me with my insomnia, help me wind down in the evening, help me sleep. Life was ok. I had dreams and hidden feelings and pictures. Still had a pocket of violets and a row of soothsayers following me.

“Yes.”

They were all women there and oddly, all had the same short hair, the same fall comfort clothes, just hoodies and jeans and sneakers but I saw her first. There was no need to scan.  She wasn’t wearing a hat or anything to cover her hair and I realized it was the first time I really saw her; head twisted only slightly away from me but mostly straight and supported by the chair, needles sticking out of her jawline. Eucalyptus filled the room, hints of lavender, low light and is this what it always meant, the next time we are forced to face it there will be no defense between us. I read there will be light.  I read the word befallen. Sometimes I practiced dictation too: moved by a carelessness but hoarding when the nymph is gone, still enraptured by the sight. She was long, lean, her collarbone jutted out from underneath a very thin striped sweater that favored her.  It was kind of how I remembered: unembellished and ordinary but shining in its plainness. She wore no jewelry. She was taller than I expected, thinner too, and simple, not like a beige wallpaper or some other muted adornment but something bigger even in the background. Her cheekbones were high. Her clavicle jutted and she was paling but olive, not milk white, not quite tan, Her neck long as I imagined. Her breathing slow and she looked content to be there. It felt like I was suddenly invading.

Not plain, no, and not ordinary just a spectacle in its honesty. Maybe it’s brave that shows, triumph, skill survives like a Renaissance portrait that lasts decades in the museum for its representation of the time; the light the artist was able to paint into the picture peeking from the corner, dull blues and grays and a very fine wine-burgundy. It’s a dark painting but it lights up the room; no sun just that one light in the corner. You pass it and you pause every time. Analytics and video tapes demand it stays in that museum. Mostly black with a few people looking up, following the cloud.  You’re admiring what they were– the vividness of the devil’s outline, black against black. It’s all you can see.

A smile began in the corner of her mouth and she stretched her fingers.  I saw nothing in her hands. Her nails were long and red and her jeans had holes in them. She held nothing in her hands eyes shut, the mouth falling slightly open, relaxing.  I didn’t look at her feet as I turned away. What an incredible yearning for loss we face. If only to stay there that day of passing her without a word, head down only to turn around to watch her turning around too and later demanding explanation.  Leaving, if only to stay enveloped in the sight of her resting with needles poking out all over her face, her neck, her jaw, her wrists. To stay in winter, in our coats, watching the Earth break into a rift and separate cliffs so all you hear are echoes. A heavy yes falling to the bottom. The portrait of the townspeople hurried to the shadow, gawked at by millions a year, never removed for its classic parable. Not a glittering, but a dimness yet the center of the room. Beware of what you seek for it is seeking you.

Just say yes and step into the consequence.

Without any warning, she turned to walk away. Her friends followed suit. I heard the cracking of bones in the distance. If I could smell blood like them, I would have. It was everywhere. Congestion, fatigue, general shutting down–I couldn’t smell anything and I was freezing, slowly freezing, slowly twirling in a net, slowly turning to face her body, to face them walking away.

The two ripped her limbs off delicately and two more had joined them. One looked over at me curiously, but with no commitment to leaving what they had found. All alphas. I know how this was going to go. I had spent my entire life watching kills for fun, watching my cats trap mice under the oven, bring half dead rabbits to the door, and the way a packs forms like a swarm.

“We have to kill them.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
She raised a palm to the bark.
“Oh, god, ok, with your hand?”
Admittedly, I looked down but then back up to see her smash the lantern fly against the bark, one after the other. All five.
“Ok, savage, yeah,” Rayne stepped away.
“Someone has to do it,” Salome was bent over near one that had fallen, inspecting it and then squishing it with the ball of her hand.

I was watching, unable to contribute, unable to picture myself face to face with an actual plague of insects so pretty as these mysterious asian flies that had besieged our trees.  Earlier in the hike, I had been taken by a discarded web only to notice the sap dripping from a cut near the bottom. I ran my finger across to feel the moisture. The tree had already uprooted itself due to storm. If only they would seek the fallen trees to suck but why suck something dead and fallen when a growing sumptuous oak is nearby? I twirled there with those women unable to commit to violence watching it become committed towards me.

When the fifth one came, she trotted right past the body, right towards me. This is where the divide begins between alpha and beta so the betas were coming next. She was playful, the comic relief of the pack; black and gray and smiling. Running and smiling and even though everything was blurred from tears that never broke and the sting of chill that hit me with or without wind, I could see her drooling. I had stopped moving awaiting the dog’s arrival.

“I stepped on a lantern fly today. I am not feeling great about it,” I texted the group.
I looked down at the body somewhere between Dickinson and Reed and it was smashed flat into the concrete and I was desolate and growing more abyss than sun every day. Yet, it still took something deep from me to step on it.
“Spotted lantern flies jump more than they fly,”  she informed the group.
I saw the light change in my periphery before I heard the ding.
“The trees thank you,” was her reply.

The black wolf was right under me, looking up. My cheek was probably going to freeze to the rope, I don’t know, but my face was smushed against it and I was curled in an upside down fetal position so I could see everything as long as I faced it, but not if the wind, a sadist, a wolf, or a breaking branch moved me. Or God. What I did I wish for? What did I seek? She had asked me. A chance or long sleep.  Very gently, the black dog stood on its hind legs so it’s front paws touched the bottom of the net and pushed. I twirled effortlessly in the air like that as the wolf watched. Listening only to my heartbeat, which was slowing, and the creaking of the branch, which was louder than the bones breaking or the distant snarl of the two wolves that had fought over my friends calf muscle. The wolf watched like that and myself, a watcher, understood the game.  

I wasn’t sure what the plan was. I was waiting to pass out and I regretted immediately letting the green eyed witch leave my sight but I also understood I was not in control. What I hoped was that, I would freeze to death first and then they would rip me to shreds. What I realized now is that they were trying to get the branch to break to get to me more easily. It wasn’t as easy to pick me apart through the rope, six feet above. Tall, strong, but still spent from the hunt and people say wolves only kill people in folklore and myth, but here we are, the scrape of his claws leaving traces of terror all over my lower back.

“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”

 

only two days ago
your hands wrapped around my throat
and tossed me on the bed
and still dutiful,
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 still
garish, stands out.
it’s brick and

this building has no doors and
one broken window.
these defects in the painted halls
lining my new city catch my
eye each time I run an errand
and I pay my respects in
photographs      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.
I’m invaded.

these overcoats that rot
hold space;
there is natural beauty
here but it shines brightest
in demise.
these bricks are painted to distract from
it’s true inability
to keep a home  safe like
the way men have held me;
hugged with their claws,
I cracked at the touch     put my rosy shades on
I only see them
in their handsome sway.
I snap a picture of the edge of the broken
glass pane and the beginning of
the paint peeling into
white–the fissure.
I trace my finger
over a chip and watch
it flake.

how they left me.

“doors #1”

 

I read a note out loud to myself:
everything that is really hard
is going to save your life
and a blackbird landed on the branch
outside my living room
window.
still, their eyes small and
sharp
waiting to dive,
waiting for the buzz of cicadas
to start again.

that reminds me,
I say in my head,
i’m emaciating.
I take a sip of water.
starved from the looking
without touching and
I want too much
has many meanings.
I read the words aloud again
and pour myself a thimble
of almonds.

i begin to charm him,
untie a ribbon from her
rib cage and kneel,
tie his wrists together
and lick his inner thigh.
someone asks
and then?

and then you become the
braced masochist
and I become
the looming hit.

“maelstrom”

my knees hurt from walking the line
between prophecy and
presence as I stomp the
concrete for miles.
I’ve been dreaming of fish everywhere.
I am going nowhere;
only getting older so
sometimes I need a second
of stillness   rest
or I suddenly need to stretch
my calves on the railing
and I stop in the center.

it doesn’t matter if I hear them,
I always turn around and
two or three or a
lone man step around me.
once distracted, now
astute, upright
without visible panic
growing my back into a knight
and I keep pace behind them.
a gargoyle with cat
ears and a smirk
and I can walk for miles,
a giant keeping stride with
the beat of legs in front
of me.

watch

women move like machines
too.

 

“catcalls”

I come over wearing
everything I own:

a pack that stalks
and stays together in lunge,
a freshly oil-stoned
suit of knives and
the bled-dry opaline
home that I nest in,
my cozy coronation robe:
my clanking vest that
announces my arrival to
your home.

it is me
wreathed in
all my men’s
bones.

“Hecate”

 

I have innumerable theories about
myself because people have told me
who I am and I was
unsturdy, unstable, in tantrum,
unfed in many ways.

I watched a lot of screens.
I used to stare at my face in the mirror
to watch it change and I used
to talk to plants.
called it “plant math.”
a way of division. always
start with subtracting then
adding then multiplying.
at a young age, I grasped death
by cutting worms in half and watching
bugs eat other bugs.
you can say this even if you can’t
say psychopath.
I felt nothing watching worms
writhe except giant and I slapped
two friends across the face
before I was ten.
classify the dormant into boxes
and you have a child who will
spend all day behind a shed doing
“plant math” until she has created
a science.
I know three things about myself:

 

  1. I’ve never been in recriprocated love with a man.
    2. I have no compassion left.
  1. I once built a pyramid to God and invited everyone inside.

 

“the act of refutation”

I’ve shoved my current project
to the side of my mouth
because I am bursting with
decisiveness and for once,
can you even believe
that I chose perplexity,
a saint’s patience,
not begging,
ruining it anyway
just so I can sit here like
a lonely bitch tied to
outdoor patio furniture
waiting for the sun to go
down or for their master to step
out?

 

just panting and sitting in
her own piss,
shedding like crazy,
bewildered at the sky’s
sudden brightness,
conditioned to salivate when
your screen door opens
as if I even have a spare
drop to lose in this
heat.

 

GIVE IT TO ME.

 

“bells”

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