twelve step

i.
hearken: the howling foreigners
tour-tonguing concrete and eye roll,
footpaths, lolling, scrawling tiny postscript
on someone's old shoe in a pen that's
just about to die, and noticing a spider
hitchhiking on the back of your cuffed pant leg,

feeling that itch
in my skin. again
and again.

ii.
they say
for-gods-sake-go-slow, don't
use your body as a power trip,

go
slow! though,
they say a lot of things.

iii.
falderal, fickle, tell the shame
that you're especially well-read, that
no one knows you

really
well enough

to surmise the disguise,
tell someone that you're
really jesus christ incarnate,
tell them that you gave birth
to a doorway of cold ghosts, tell
them that you have somewhere to
be, tell them anything,

I
guess.

iv.
there was a tiny spider tangled
in my hair, I jumped

yelped,

cut it all off the next day.

v.
not remembering rushed rashness,
an ex-boyfriend in Germany, the
child-like deplorability of my
child's would-be-once-upon a time
father faking it.

vi.
he says that each morning (early,
when it's still dark, and most people
mistake the hour for night) he drives
by the house and blares the horn with raised
eyebrows and a grin.

I tell him not to.

He says: I will, because
they hurt you.

vii.
teeth taste like coffee, and withered
silver spoons plucked off the
tongue of eden-ville where I ran
through an open field chasing after a
stray kite. the sky was grey, I remember that,

tell them that that's what I remember
most about it, and the running,

faster, faster,
but I still couldn't catch it.

viii.

I guess it meant nothing

all the time spent
convincing myself
that I was someone
completely different.

ix.
the
knuckle
knickknack
dime
store
drag
queen
dragging
her
drunk
ass
up
the
street
past
my
window
where
the
ultrasound
priest
stills
to
let
his
German
Shepard
piss
on
the grass.

I told them that I didn't remember anything.

x.
lately, I've taken to crossing my
legs and itching from the inward
sound of moans from mouths
that do not belong to me. I have
no one besides myself, and here
I am, wanting nothing

just that sound.

xi.
she will tell you about Botticelli
when you hand her a multicolored
bouquet of flowers, she will tell you about
Primavera, and flora and the orange
groves, she will welcome your
voice into the palm of her hand -

she will do her best to not harm you.

xii.

lastly, inching up to the doorway,
hiding in bathroom stalls while
lesser women stalk their boyfriends
over cell phones, howling accusatory
tones, saying: what are you doing? why
are you getting mad at me?

and I try not to listen, just stand
quietly, behind the door, reading a
library book and scratching the sleep
out of my eye, eating time casually,
as though I still had any appetite.