TV Screen at the Gas Station

touch the handle,
it’s gritty
clean your hands

push the card in,
pull it out rapidly
like the screen tells me to do

rapidly

a man in a grey Camry
pulls up behind me
I note the license plate number

and repeat it over
and over
and over

pump the gas

I unscrew the cap
and guide in the nozzle
the TV turns on

Are you talking to me?

23 dollars
maybe I can get coffee
from inside where the

cashier is playing music
and it sounds like
it’s Turkish

I could win the lottery
if I bought a scratcher
but the only problem

is I don’t trust men
on the television screens
that try to con me

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Broken Jewelry 

Two skulls flew off from my wrist, bouncing on the tile next to my feet.
The urine drained from my body as I sat and wondered about how
I could go about polishing the little snake vertebrae.
When I was good and empty, I stood up to the mirror.
There in front of me was a collection of thoughts, a museum of nerves.
My arms were finely marked with two-day-old sister cuts.
Outside the door there were people doing things with their hands; laughing over their glasses, smiling about false memories.
In front of me was flesh propped up on two legs- too thick, too sad and too ugly for the people outside to see.
I stuck my fingers down to meet the place between my legs and I painted a smile on my face with my red ink.
I became a smiling woman of 24 with bright cherry lipstick, which I called “Raging Bitch.”
I placed the skulls into my pocket, I wiped the blood from my face, I left the place thinking of resin and teeth.

Pilgrim

I woke up this morning, November sixteenth
And I felt my hip bones protruding, my ribs stretching
Each time I breathed in. Yes, it’s true, I weigh all of 95 pounds
My eyes are swollen
And I am so fucking uncomfortable.
I used to be so beautiful. My hair was longer
And it made me more attractive. I think my skin also
Glowed with something else.
Now I am this.
Identity. Victoria is not the writer, or is she?
Perhaps the writer is simply “The Writer”
But who am I to say?
Pretentious, self-righteous writer who spills
Ugly letters into a puddle of decent patterns.
I can’t breathe.
This body is tight on me and I have a mechanical
Taste beneath my tongue.
I’ve been addicted before but I could verily
Say that it made me hold on for just a little
Bit longer.
I’ve shut myself into a stall with an exacto-knife and
Have carved myself like holiday fowl, bloody
And insane.
I keep tugging at my sweater. I can’t go on like this.
I look at the healthy people around me and
Wonder if they ever hear voices, too.
Last night I listened to the roar of a machine,
Clutching on to her shirt, fighting memory vomit
Of a holiday long ago where a little girl was
Slapped across the face for laughing during Grace.
She’s been exorcised too many times to count.
Who the fuck am I?
There’s 6, 9, 12 of me and all in me,
Beating, talking, laughing, crying, ingesting
The food I eat, but yet they are not the voices
That I hear late at night.
I want to take my clothes off and scream.
I want to smoke a cigarette and paint my lungs
Or maybe I just want to sleep.
Wake up, wake up, wake up, you’re dreaming.
She’s right next to you, chasing a mouse in her dream.

The Career Woman

I have made a vocation for myself.
It is just as good as any other.
I wake in the morning, thirsty from my slurry state.
Then, I disinfect the marks from the night before.
She is the stalk of six faces.
Six mouths and tongues that neatly work together
To construct a mechanic whore house.
I am the iron guard.
The gates for which you seek have been cauterized.
My ribs were splayed open like a test subject.
Small, particular medical tools lined up
Against my bare skin, ready to be picked up
And used.
She, the ram, broke her horns in halves.
These rise like small houses-
Empty inside from an affair long ago.
On the night my mother abandoned me
She fucked a man for a meth pipe.
I am the gambled baby, a product of a
Junkie’s exchange in the lonely streets
Of wet Los Angeles.
When I turned five, I scoured the sidewalks
For just-used cigarettes, wrapping my small lips
Around the filters, sucking away, hoping it would
Connect me to her, to them.
This is my career.
I’m sucking away at black-tar.
I never feel any better, never fuck any better,
Never taste any better, never look any better.
I’ve taken my Bible and have masturbated to Judas.

The Church – Trigger Warning- Poetry on Incest

The plush resurrection of my veins
Comforts me. The push of a steel crucifix
has fixed my clear, white eyes.
Still, I keep ties on my wrist,
The never-minded furrows in the field of flesh.
I have gone incognito. I am a priestess of pills.
A will has been erected.
They will jot over uncrossed
T’s and double-spaced grievances.
I have been raped by daddy dearest.
My legs, thrown apart, like a tormented ragdoll’s.
My arms, tethered in fine linen, with bruises to match.
Buckles, silver buckles.
My mind has slipped and has curled itself around
Hot coals. The stench of a burning childhood lingers
And sits in our lungs. It breathes. It breathes.
It lives, as you live.
Tall man.
Tall men.
I am the pearl left to suffocate inside a rotting oyster.
A letter from Saint Paul to the Corinthians:
The virgin bleeds.
And bled I did, blood of red,
Half-decade-young mare and I bucked over
To feel you rape me again.
Again.
Ten years of loveless love.
I bite down on the matchbox, lips dry
From starvation.
The least you could have done was finish me off.
By the time you fled into the white room,
Stroked yourself into a frenzy,
I was already buried in miles and miles of sheets,
Bleeding, writhing in confusion.
I am the sinning slut.
I’ve had enough practice.
Thirteen years of growing my breasts for your
Enjoyment. Thirteen years of a wasted childhood,
All for your 15 seconds of shame.
What will it be this time?
Remember how you threw the twenty dollar bill
At the church between my legs?
You said, “Good job. Not as great as last time.”
I took the twenty dollar bill and bought myself a
Journal from the children’s section of my favorite
Bookstore.
In my journal entries, I wrote how I wish you would
Stop
Raping me.
Then, you promised that you would start
Weaning yourself off of my scent, my taste.
I wrote one night in my diary that I was proud of you
For not using your tongue when you came to kiss me goodbye.
For this, I eat the pain-killers, the taste of bitter apathy.
For my fix, my clear, white eyes.
Strange, how I still needed to cling to your chest
Even while you destroyed my body.
I would rather imagine you loved me as you raped me,
Then realize I was just a piece of meat
For you to empty yourself into.

Insectarium

I am plastered here as sleepy as a mollusk
melted into the floor, waiting to be scraped, peeled.
My saxicoline body is wet with blue anguish,
exploding onto my knees like fat water balloons.
My pearly friends smile at me from my hands.
They smell like iron, or something equally as earthy
and dirty.
Dressed in my clerical calico, I am presentable
for Jesus, or Buddha, or Allah- or no one.
Stupid me. Twice I’ve seen the vacancy signs
lit up like a Christmas parade..
Yet, I’ve whipped my heels around, too afraid.
I begin to think of the things I’ve forgotten before I go;
to feed the cat
to water the plants
to lock the house
to turn off the stove
to kiss my lover
to write goodbye
to say goodbye
to cancel my contracts.
I spin my heels in this way.
Not today. But that’s alright.
I was never too presentable in those moments anyways.
God or Satan would have laughed and spat
for the disgrace that is my mismatched socks.
Instead, I visit in short and intense bursts.
One pill to six sends me to Tiburon for tea with ghosts-
where dead moths collect themselves into a pile
of dried wings and snappy legs.

Noose Ribbons

I am interested in the intimate
moments before the body
dives and sways, supported and
suspended by tragic threads.

How red and blue the face must go.
Doctor, coroner,
is there a lapse between the
jump and finis that our protagonist
regrets his boy scout knot-tying and
his mid-life wife pill-popping kick?

How curious is this?

I wish I could cut and collect
all of their ribbons.
I would sew a flag of their
suicides.

Lagniappe

A cat’s blue belly,
pumped up like a jellyfish
rounded out and spattered
with it’s limbs outstretched.

Red confetti-like specks of dye
happily sat melted on their white capsulets.
The taste of chalk infected my mouth,
my throat and lungs.

A hobby.
(the deplorable sobriquet
of a junkie’s self-worth)
I carry thirteen pockets
full of our pulverulant Christ.

To the moon! we said-
To hell, or whichever we see first.
It must be my body’s lack of
containment; I’ve gone septic.

I’ve given birth to purple babies,
curled in satin shoe-boxes,
hiding underneath the boulder
we found that day in the park.

Feed me pills, hard and wet with spit
so that we may forget their open faces,
blue like dead orchids,
abandoned in the vase from Mother’s Day.

Yet, the milk I spill still spills:
A deranged lagniappe.

The Battle and Blessings of a Devoted Nun

small white buckets of velvet sit
high on their earthly stilts,
proud of their purpose,
whatever that may be.

along the bedside of a pumped up priest,
chanting relentlessly on worn out beads
and bleating to a God that hasn’t listened
since that night in 1992.

I chant, too. On nights like these.
though I know the difference between
a steel crucifix and the holy ghost.
I chant for you, Wife,
so that the aches I give you may leave your bones.

both of us coil in life, like
snakes, split-tongued and tempered.
when you sleep I hear your dull rattle-
humming and hissing.

I adore your ridges, your stuck claws in the ground.
I am able to lick each nail clean from the socket,
gently ripping you from your familiarity.

Wife, may you buckle beneath my loyalty,
overcome by love and love and love.
For you have grown knowing nothing else
but to scratch and bite.

I am no causality.
and if you bite again, well, I love to bleed.

lying still, save the rise and fall of your stomach,
I keep my eyes fixed on your collarbone.
I’ve always loved the dark rings on your skin,
the way your chest juts towards the sky.

chanting here I speak now in low whispers,
my throat cracking with elongated aaaas.
funny now, God must have left the sheets,
as I find myself spilling this soliloquy to you.

I’m worried that you’re awake,
listening to this raw moment of truth.
then again, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before
drowned in whiskey and smudged in mascara.

how content I am to exchange nothing
but silence and mutual dreams.
like a nun, devoted to said steel,
I bend here on my knees, devoted
to the god between your legs.

come morning when the yellow hood
has yawned and collapsed over buildings,
I will taste your mewling mouth and
delve into our third sacrament.

for now, we sleep beside those small white buckets
of velvet that sit high on their earthly stilts.
I am proud of your purpose,
whatever that may be.

the air has cooled.
I hold you here,
still chanting through my heart,
still holding yours.

Waste Basket- Triggers

My thoughts this morning as I lay crumpled in tears next to my sleepy girlfriend: (not for the faint of heart. suicide, drugs, self mutilation)

1. I wonder what was going through my father’s mind as he injected himself one last time with his lethal opiate cocktail. I wonder what he was thinking when he wrote his last letter, his farewell memo. Did he see my face, my brother’s, or sister’s? Did he really think the world would shine brighter without him in it? I wish I could remember what he smelled like, how his arm muscles felt when he picked me up, or how his face wrinkled when he smiled. I wish I could remember his voice. Remember, Dad, when you wrote me my first birthday card? How you said you’d always be there for me and I was your little sweetheart?

2. My grandfather. His Alzheimer’s took over. He had always been my dad; taught me how to ride a bike, how to build with nails and wood, how to weld metal, how to dance Cumbia and Salsa. He taught me about music like Glenn Miller, Arite Shaw, Frank Sinatra. He showed me my culture, the language, the passion. When the family first found out that I had been cutting and had become suicidal, he looked at me with a heavy heart and said, “What happened to my little girl? You used to follow me around like a puppy. Now, you barely even say goodnight to me.” I had hit that teen angst, and I was sucked into solitude. It had hurt him that I had become apathetic and unresponsive. Fast forward a few years when his memory was being eaten alive. I called my grandparents house. He answered with a shaky voice, “Mija, when are you coming back?” I had moved out of the house at that point. I was impatient on the phone… “Soon, Tata, soon…” The regrets I bare now are unbearable.

3. Am I a selfish person? Like my father? My grandfather, in his own and old way was begging to see me before he forgot my face. I was so wrapped up in my own selfish little world. Why couldn’t I have looked past my irrelevant bubble to see his human desperation?

4. I must have felt what my dad felt the moment he boiled his tar. Years ago, I too sat in my bedroom, saturated with benzos. I relived it this morning whilst thinking of it. I had clutched these bottles of pills in my hands, thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of my suicide. In the past, it had hurt to realize there were more pros. This time, however, something terrible had shifted within me and I felt peace. Everything would be okay. I hope to never lose myself again to the irreparable ideation. What a terrifying place to be… no longer able to feel emotion, ready to pull the trigger, to jump, to inject, to inhale, to swallow and hang.

5. I want drugs. Anything I can snort. I want to sift through all the drawers here and find as many hydrocodones and I can. Crush, snort, repeat.

6. Will I ever meet my mom? Do I even care anymore? I’m embarrassed to admit to anyone that nearly every time I call her, she sounds high. Sometimes it doesn’t even register to her that she’s talking to me. I call her on my way home from work, she blames it on her exhaustion. Until I hear her husband in the background, “Come back baby, one more hit.” I stay on the phone, pushing back tears. I just want her to talk to me. I just want to tell her about my day. Mom, I’m having a hard time, please for fucks sakes, can you please just listen to my problems for once? Even if you don’t care? I hang the phone up, left to my own thoughts, feelings, fear. I go home, panicked because I’m home alone. I’m drawn to the bathroom cabinet like a moth to a flame. I fill the bathroom sink up with water, take out a razor blade, and hold my wrist under the faucet. This is not the answer…. put the blade away. I crawl under my sheets, text my girlfriend and cry.

7. How much more of this can I hold on to? I’ve lived my entire life with the magnificent ability to control my emotions, to eat them like air. Down they go to lie. I am beginning to feel sick and one by one, they come bellowing out from my stomach. I feel too humiliated to ask for help. “It’s always something, isn’t it? You should be better by now. Come on, we’re all going through something.” I’m just sad. I’m sad about Father’s Day, I’m sad that my mom can’t even hold a sober conversation with me, I’m sad that I’m sad.

8. Okay, Lazarus, that’s enough emotion for you now. Suck it back down

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