Sunday, February 17


In the beginning, I woke up every day without my teeth clenched
on this scream that would shatter the sky. 
I still wonder if I can ever return

to that quiet land. Amida Butsu, pure land, where no earth is barren, no life or love wasted. Lost, 

sighing wind, pulled recklessly from my shallows. In shadow. I am not her. Only the tears are the same.

Wednesday, April 4


planted, I rot
germinated, then wasted away
here at the end are "wet," "torn," "soiled,"
no words to conjure true magic

I have no arm to raise
no sword to brandish
three times
and fade away

(once) I cannot
(twice) I cannot
(thrice like a charm) I cannot

lay me in the lakebed and bury me in mud and amber beads
close my eyes with pearls, peel back my fingernails
dress me with wheat-holed coins and discarded fish scales
press me into the clay and let me breathe green lake-water

I wish I was anything but this

Saturday, April 30

remote update

A carpet of stars
caught on blue velvet, each grain
faintly glimmering:
impatient, I'm rushing past,
waiting for life to begin.

I miss the darkness;
the skies outside the city,
the scent of the wind.

Tuesday, January 12


It is not right that I cannot pull the ghosts
and wreckage of all that pain out of your hand,
clenched half-closed around a cigarette,
while your lips firm with the idea that I will turn my back.

I cannot say: here is my heart, full of teeth
and bent nails, bound to destroy, bound to reform--
I cannot speak without the rust of tears betraying me.

Give me your hand and let me draw out the cobwebs,
put your palm over my chest full of forge-coals and discarded ore,
touch me and be assured that I know of sorrow,
know of its threads that come loose and tangle,
knot around the tongue.

I cannot say: the stars in their bloody orbits know
that I am unable to walk away from your wounds
with healing held behind my sharp teeth,
ever needing to press my mouth to the cut,

to whisper black ink and snip loose threads,
prayers rising in smoke. I cannot tell you
I can hear your refusal to acknowledge that pain.

You grit your teeth and go on, you turn
your face aside from the only words I have to give.
We are not twins, but mirrored. I do not fear any end
but uselessness.

Friday, November 27


These are the flaws that make it mine:
a slanted stitch, a hole, a miscount, a wavering hem
that flows from side to side instead of marching steadily on.

The hands that make these things are as contrary, each
slow shift, each clicking needle a testament to shallow
waters. Each wrist flick, each knuckle crack, a metronome.

Contradiction in every cell. Wide palms and narrow fingers,
spread aslant to pull a thread, to snip or coax just a little farther on.
I cannot weave any longer, but I can cull. Press a finger into the

hollow of this wristbone, press your lips against the pulse that beats
there, grey wings thrashing against a black iron cage, grey wool winding
around ebony needles, grey pinstripes on silk like dark waters.

Slipped stitches, dropped skeins, slow and steady will make no
imperfect thing. Speed alone will kill, rushing headlong into the end.

Knot it tight and move on.

Friday, October 9

wheat and cherries and the world's turning

if you missed me, here is what is happening lately:

"In the tundra, yellow grasses waving goodbye to the warm seasons. Marya Ivanova, grandfather's Masha, Mashenka, trudges over camouflaged hills in winter boots, fur wrapped inside, close tied with leather straps. She is heading to the cool slate forest, stamping down gold seedheads and silver tassels. Masha, Mashenka, Marya Ivanova is walking in autumn to the end of the world."

ded maroz and snegurochka are sneaking in through autumn skies to haunt my dreams and press out of me a harvest of words. it's proserpine and the descent of inanna, godfather death and love like salt, kore and the gears that shift the world. see you on the other side.

Saturday, September 26


Sometimes, you sit on the floor of the shower and breathe steam until you can cry. Sometimes you breathe steam so you can go back to breathing air. Sometimes, you chew your nails to rags and avoid looking at the razor hanging on the wall.

You can sleep for twenty hours a day. You can sleep for twenty minutes. You can feel the panic-rat scuttling around the corners of your mind, digging in with its surprisingly adorable claws until the chest pains begin.

You go for days, weeks, months at a time, in recovery, feeling strong and capable and positive about where you are headed in life; feeling the old power rising in you whenever you say no. Whenever you say yes. Whenever you say what you really want instead of temporizing, hedging because you are worried about what the inquiring person will think.

And it's okay, when you make it through these days, even if you wake up the next unable to breathe or think or see, even if you did it to yourself, trying to re-educate your brain on the subject of abuse. It's going to be okay. Some days, it is not okay. And that is fine, too.

But in every minute and every breath, there is the possibility of fear rising in you. Irrational and rough and blood-warm, or acid, or colder than you've ever felt before. At any given moment, you are vulnerable to surprise, to the wrong word, to a stray thought or idea. You fear being brittle, or too inflexible, too pliable. Too broken.

You are not broken. You are going to be okay. Even on the days you are overwhelmed by all this feeling? We get through. One breath at a time. One step. One word.

Every part of you is a victory. You have breathed steam and air, you have given tears and thought and time. You have eaten, you have hydrated and rested. You have not cut. You maybe cut only a little. You thought very seriously about hurting yourself and decided against it? You win. It is okay to make mistakes, and you will. Because progress is not a straight line, or a race, or a contest.

Every time you think, "It could have been me," you can also remember: You are still here. You are important. You are alive and you matter and you will, eventually, leave all this behind for whatever you want of normality.

Leaving things behind is not bad, or heartless, or cruel. It can be necessary to breathe steam instead of smoke, more oxygen than nitrogen. Leaving things behind can be a necessity. You can still remember with love, but you do not have to carry them with you.

I am not a role model, I am only stubborn. I sit on the floor of the shower and cry, and I have to remember to breathe, and I think, "it could have been me."

But it wasn't. And I do not think I will ever allow it to be.

Saturday, September 19

pour encourager les autres

when the razor skips over thin skin
and blood wells up,
falling on the shower floor like rain,

you never notice.

like whiskey in a parched throat,
the pulse and burn
of ink pooled on your stomach,
black and spangled with light,

scarlet footprints on dark carpet,
a stubbed toe, cracked nail weeping

camouflaged tears.
the stain is still there, hidden,

until one day it disappears,
that secret piece of you,
and you never notice at all.

Thursday, June 25

Level 32 Ranger

This might be the weirdest birthday I've ever had. There are things that have happened over the years that, written down, seem like the fiction I work so hard to create. But this is the year that things are truly strange. There is not much that I can say about it, here. There are too many words unsaid.

I have left abusive relationships, I have clawed my way back to the surface. I have looked into a night sky that seemed endless and unforgiving, searching for a single star.

I have written and I have not written, I have left too many things unfinished. I have lost companions and lovers and friends and a home. I have left a place that never suited me and retreated to take asylum in a place where it rains, even storms, and where fireflies hang in the dim summer nights.

I am feeling my way back into my own skin. The damage is legendary. But I can still tread water.

I do not know where I am going, or how I will manage to move on.  I do not know, anymore, what I want from life, other than to put one word in front of another, one foot in front of the other, and go on. I want to write down the books in my head, not because I feel that the stories should be free of me, but because I want there to be more to life than dead pages cluttering up my brain.

When you come here to see an empty page, celebrate for me. Because when I have written every word down in ink like blood, when I have emptied both barrels at the page, hit my target, and moved on? I will be free.

I want to persist like Octavia. I want to breathe again.

I want to live.

Thursday, May 21


I dream of a soft blanket wrapped around me, the snow falling on your city lighter than breath. I'm writing at a window, my window, wherever that will be, with my legs curled under me and my headphones on. There's hot chocolate on the stove (there's liqueur to mix in it) and the window is cracked just enough to feel the ice in the air, just enough for the smoke from my cigarette to slip out in spiraling clouds to join the blue light of dawn.

I dream of walking to work in the winter, of coffee shops encased in ice and the steam that unfurls from the cup in ghostly flags. It is the silence of a movie's opening credits and who knows, yet, where this story will go? It is the thrill of uncertainty that keeps me balanced, standing tall. Seated, wrapped in dreams and blankets, sweater swallowing me whole and my teacup balanced on my knee. A breath of foreshadowed winter that can touch me, even here.

I do not find it hard to imagine what other people want from me. I behave in a certain way in certain situations. I do not slip, in general. In specific, where you find me, it is different. I am on terra firma only when I know what is expected of me. At any other moment I might slip into the diction and hauteur of someone else's expectations, and disappoint.

I can argue, I can demand. I can sit demurely on the floor, knees canted to the side and skirt tucked around my thighs while I smoke a cigarette in the sunset. I can laugh and flirt and do many things without thinking about them, but I cannot, somehow, intuit what you want. There is some kind of block in play.

Do not give me leave to decide for myself what you want. Do not leave me without an operating manual for our conversations unless you want to see me gasp like a sea-creature hauled upward. Choking, inelegant, on the sudden lack of pressure. I will write these thoughts (maybe), but put on the spot I can no longer speak. Will I ever be able to say what I mean? I cannot ask you, not out loud. I could ask you with my fingers, trailing along your sides. I could ask with my eyes, silently fixed on yours. Tactile, assertive, never yielding, never mute. Except somehow, now, I am.

Perhaps I am caught in the web of your expectations no less than anyone else's. Perhaps I will find a voice in the spaces that exist without thought. It hasn't happened yet.

to be continued.

Tuesday, May 19


no nine-tailed fox, not now. only washi dissolving in ink and tears and rain. your lips are gone and the light that rang in your eyes like the nine thousand names of god has dashed against the rocks and shattered into nine times nine thousand indifferent fireflies.

that name was a silver bullet on a full-moon night, piercing cold, meant to wound until I folded out of your way like the paper crane, I whispered, I warned you, that simple fold that may be my true form. I cannot bar you from harm when I have no more stars to light my way. I used to know where I was going from here.

you are not who you were. I cannot be who I am. I will remember who I was, someday, and I will braid my hair into a coat. a chain. a noose, a sail. I will no longer look into the night sky, hoping for a way home. I have learned the futility of loss, the frailty to mourn, but I never regret. just give me time to stitch this up and regain my balance, to stop bleeding out on someone else's floor.

Friday, May 15

Fin de siècle

I wake in the day, blinking in the sun
dandelion-fuzzy, curls fizzing out of my head,
the blood falling from my face like milk-glass--
ecclesia non sitit sanguinem.

But I blush out of habit and out of reach,
the sucking sound of your lamprey mouth
so many miles away, your voice shimmering through
my dark waters. Your direct gaze.

Reaction in my skin puts out tendrils, a vine
and a catalyst, opals poised to burn, acid
in the acrid night, full moon smiling on the auto-da-fé
of my heart, staked down and set alight

without hesitation. A shiver in the wake of your smile.
A note vibrating in the darkness before the dawn. A knife that
sinks in, remote. I cannot repent. I cannot forget. I cannot relent.