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

I usually go to bed by nine 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 every night,
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
but it ended in a soft bite to your
neck and a cloying kiss
you can tell has been rehearsed before.
it’s heavy;
my tongue flush 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 it’s host,
like low tide,
like you,
your sudden
retreat.

“February”

“did you think I wore this city without pain?”
-Adrienne Rich

 

it’s midnight.
i’m with you
in a ball
on a quarter of my side.
you’re taking up a quarter of
my half of the bed with your engulfing
speculation and a partially harbored
rage, marking pages you skimmed
to later find your place where you felt,
at the time at least,
some things are better left theorized
than openly in flames.

I’m investigating an inner stillness that dissolves when exposed
 and counting
(to ten, my sponsor said)
contusions around my throat.
you’re learning about economics
this week,
hyperbole & statistics;
which way my freckles move
depending on my
frown,
the likelihood of a temper tantrum over
soap scum on anything I scrubbed,
unloved refrigerator pictures circa 1995,
premature forgiveness when I’ve still got to
fuck the bitter out but
someone gave me two weeks of yoga passes
so I’m suppressing it in down dog and polite nods
on a borrowed mat on the other side of
town.
I’m crooked but
I’m hiding my scoliosis  
in poses.

the amount of times my palms moved from open to
across your cheek and at what velocity;
how much of my useless back will face you tonight,
how long before one half of the bookshelf is cleared out,
how not to trust

                   you’re a poor investment, Sarah

anything that has to do with
us.
simply put
(count the marks on my throat)
you already know
(inhaling without prompt)
about sharpness.
              (my Christmas tree is in a dumpster)
some things shouldn’t be touched
  ( I’m in child’s pose)


and you should:
never bet on
anything
that talks.

 

“the economist”

what is this new excruciating contentment where I feel no longing; no long for anyone? I am emptied. how do I fill the space previously occupied by endless obsession for objects that rejected me, neglected me, ignored me, or objects that never existed? I am just empty space. I am a vacuum, reaching for craving. but I feel no craving. I feel nothing.

–8/16/17, 10:25 pm

 

 

 

shredded letters
I tried using
as fertilizer.
grow something from our
sudden valediction:
calendula,

jasmine to lighten the darker parts of my libations
that hold me under the bath water,
but give it a fragrance of cure.
violets, honeywort, honeysuckles wafting from the roach holes,
mugwort to get my blood moving again,
Easter lilies the cats shouldn’t touch so I hang them from the rafters
and let the leaves fall brown one by one;
let the paws scatter the ashes of that,
mice, my previous
laurels.

cheery dandelions in the cracks of the linoleum,
bromeliad at the doorway to protect me with her spikes;
self-effacing, straight and strong unlike the
hard, twisted ways I grow to be.
orchids to wilt in too much sunlight when I’m
doting myself to death,
a bouquet of roses to give my daughter when she becomes
moss in someone else’s garden,
feral evocation             an arboretum
started at the ankle. or

a whole cherry tree,
rooted.
chop down,
gorge,
something sweet to chomp while I’m choking down
the acidic
no,
the new full sun.

I prepare the dried lemon balm
in the mason jar,
two cups of hot water,
watch the window blanket itself in white flakes
of anesthesia,
embrace the change in seasons
without a phone call or text,
hexed postcard,
or really,
much incident at all
considering our history.

 

“succor”

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 acerbic,
without the gentle recompense
of her sadist’s touch
after she laid her.

all cathedrals use pain as payment
and my crucifixion,
while self inflicted,
is just as copper,
just as baneful.

and my bloodletters will wash
the splashes from my feet,
stitch my gashes
into temples.

“Lilith”

 

When he turned the corner, I turned the corner. When he stopped at the orange hand,  I stopped at the orange hand. When he jaywalked, I jaywalked, although sometimes that’s when I lost them. I moved with him. I learned how he moved. I watched his gait, his shuffle, the way he was always running his hand through his hair with some timed tension-breaking. He held space for his own self-assurance; feigned and toxic and unable to yield. He would play with his keys sometimes, or a pen and his forearms brushed people constantly. He would always have his head way up or way down and in his phone but never on anyone unless it was me and it was intimidating and it was meant to invoke subordinate laughter. A subordinate curtsy.   He was heavy on the sidewalk, heavy in the air.  He stomped his way through people, indifferent to the chasms he cut into couples walking.  He passed right through them like a ghost. Like they were ghosts. They were forced to make their point abruptly or cut the thought short or turn around in disgust and the mood would be inevitably lost no matter how they chose to approach it. They came together aware of the split, aware they can be split, aware they are not one. They came back together and then I did the same thing.

 

 I mimicked his carnal prowl, the way he ruined things, the way his arms hung at his side like a big, hungry primate. No purpose, I saw, but to smash rocks, strangle things, dangle things above me. I made my movements wider.  I flexed the whole walk to make my arms stronger, larger, strong and large enough to smash rocks, strangle things, dangle my sex above them.  I channeled the Earth’s orbit and became giant space behind him. I wanted to loom. I wanted someone to feel something looming behind them. I wanted them to be the victims of a person constantly walking in and out of their relaxing silence.  

 

They demanded interruption. I became stifled violence. I became indiscriminate in my hunt. Sometimes whole groups I would follow. I would be in front of them to start, choosing all my movements slowly, carefully, deliberately, aware I was being watched. I was being followed. I would tense and untense my hand so they had something to focus on; so they could see my nails ripping at the inside of my palms and then releasing. So they could see my nails were sharp and sharpening. My biceps flexing so they could see my arms were strong and strengthening. So they could see my palm was pre-callused. Sometimes I sauntered.  Sometimes I turned around without warning and walked the other way and caught all eyes now locked straight on my pussy. It was my ass they were just hungry for. Sometimes I laughed loudly to no one right in front of them and at them. Sometimes I relaxed; stopped dead in my tracks in front of them to check the weather forecast for the evening.  I responded to texts and let giant groups break in two just before hitting me, move around me, a wave crashing right before my feet and parting their own sea. I lingered there, responding, taking my time with my choice in vocabulary, choice in emoji sequence. They assumed frivolity. I assumed a wider stance and let another group scramble to pass me gracefully and then I suddenly changed direction.    

 

Sometimes I’d make eye contact for five hundred feet, or if I felt confident, I’d make eye contact for a mile. I walked right towards them my lips set in a straight line. My eyes unblinking.

My intent muddy. I waited until we were close enough to get a sense of each other. I stared until we were close enough to catch a whiff of each other.  I could smell their begging cologne from the first five steps of this mile. They anticipated a contact, maybe a word spoken, an observation about the mild winter we were having, a rehearsed joke, or unrehearsed nervous choke. They hoped for something unbridled.  At least, a once over we both would perform and a smile. I was walking theater. I held a bit of a smirk, but never anything wider, and then I looked up at the sun suddenly, looked directly at it. As they passed, I stared up at the sun the entire time. My head was completely back and I gawked.  Or if I was passing a window, checked my reflection. I ran my hand through my air with a feigned apprehension I watched my dogs perform and repeated it in front of them.  Whole groups I saw in my peripheral looking at me, waiting for me, watching me, wanting me to interrupt, but kindly. But please do it kindly. And I always checked my reflection, my lips set in a straight line just waiting for it.

 

“Hey girl,” they started.

 

I would suddenly change direction, running.

we are decked head to toe
in our ancestors’
feathers;
striped with the arteries of
another insurrection,
bathed in the burst scabs of obstinate knuckles,
seasoned by the day,
the sweat of too many suns without
shade:
chasing for scalps.

taut-backed,
curves like jello axes,
charcoal lips,
bright eyes,
hearts like meandering cannons.
chipped nails holding prayer, tongues,
the clipped wings of our grandmothers,
clawing at your porch,
oiling the glass
sneaking up your banister
teeth out
sliding under sheets,
look

                    slither

i’ve got an apple for you to bite.
breath like gentle reminders from God,

                 now, now, learn to be amenable

feel the uneven pulse that vengeance wore.
pausing so you understand the difference in
revival and survived,
glint from the cutter reveals an untamed eyelash:
unpainted and short and straight with might.
partially cloaked but baring light smiles,
wayward breasts you can’t touch,
wild right,
a heat between our thighs that you can’t hunt
and it’s close enough to
smell.
wearing the mask of
an unlectured howl,
a thorn plucked from our ribs,
a blood crusted march,
a cold new vendetta.

we,
my sons,
are coming
to get you.

 

“the matriarch”

 

rainstorm.

unscheduled and I had been
comfortable in shifting drought.
in my backyard,
calloused toes on grass
walking too far and too hard
in unpadded sandals,
sky blue sundress,
flimsy, strap always falling off the shoulder
so I have to watch the way I carry myself
around men.

hem slipping up my left thigh to expose the
DIY garter you gave me,
not the daisies I wanted,
ring of bruises
fresh with conquest,
lasting impact of
your parting mouth that
said nothing,
just hangs there and
hurts
when I shower.

wait

I’m counting
cicada shells
under the picnic table;.
a gesture of presence.
someone told me to stop replaying old voicemails and
I needed a year to pass.
I scrubbed away the last of your fingernail
but I have to
ride those bite marks
out.

I blink to hold back.
a ripple in the sky bursts
and she,
condensed and aimless,
shows just one day’s worth of self-containment,
undressed.
it’s black and soft and
seamless,
surfeit with mild violence,
crackling.
cageless.

the veins of my feet become
muddy streams
before I even notice the shadow
wash over my bangs.
wait.
head drenched,
dark red now because you liked subtlety
and I liked
demonstrating power
and a hint of auburn wasn’t enough to show
blood with just a thornless bush
so I adorn myself:
with ritual,
with cleanses,
with little thorns,
little kills to
draw attention.
my knees hurt and all those cicadas are
dead  so I stand
to lift my face to the thunder.
a small gesture of inflorescence.
Wait.

open my arms
purposefully
like petals
of a dry red rose
exhaling in relief
for the drink her master
brings.

parched from the work my dry words had done
undoing
as they roamed free
all over your front yard.
God makes pacts with penitents
and you barely have a face that isn’t just
my reflection
so I’m itching to be clean.
I stick out my tongue to catch all she had.
cageless.
bold with my repentance and ready to wash any
phantoms away.
but the gray sky  remembered
she had lightning.

 

and suddenly elucidated,
I remembered,
I am the dark thing
inside of me.

 

“prayer”

 

1/24/2017, dream

 

I walked uphill, it was a long road but the hill wasn’t steep. I felt like I was on my way to a carnival or somewhere fun. There were people all around me but I couldn’t see any of them, only feel them. Suddenly, I saw a woman crouched on the road facing my direction in a runners lunge as if she was about to turn into a sprint.  She looked up at me and smiled; big and wide and sudden. I should have been scared, but nothing about her frightened me.  Her hair was brown and in two long braids at the side of her face. She had no bangs. She had no blemishes. Her eyes were yellow. They were set a little far apart  from the bridge of her nose, so she was not human, but otherwise completely symmetrical. A sense of youth surrounded her. Her pupils were diamonds. Her eyes were cats’ eyes. The woman was me.  

 

Later in the dream, xxx and I were in an office that we shared. He was ignoring me. Later I was at a party right outside my house. He was there and I told him I was gonna take some drugs. He said something about talking to another Sarah who also liked women. My friend Cassandra told me not talk to him anymore.

 

I woke up unsure of myself.