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The broken barbed wire
wrapped around my wrist
like a blanket, not a bracelet.

A beetle catches raindrops
and bathes while hiding from fat clouds.

They are my steady friends,
the thunder booms, sirens at sea,
the watchtower that is never manned,
Yet the light casts blame in the face of a crab, scuttling and cackling
because he pinches past death, and
the fishermen fell overboard,
The net cascaded in slow motion
Deeper past the place they found my matted hair. A seagull landed on my legs.

The papers did not have the story with the name. My face puffy, swollen belly, crackers present on the lips that could not stop smiling.
"write a poem,"

Sylvia Plath commanded summer before last.
Her voice in all places I looked.
Avoided and silenced letters
Crawled in front of my mind and knocked on my skull:
A polite entry into their society with a family,
Other words in Gregorian chant:
You cannot undo insanity in the third decade.

I tell the others, the eyes around me, that these words
Feel like birth announced just now,
With no time to prepare or plan, to nest and caress
The down feathery face, or kiss his tiny mouth.

A poem emerges with a scream,
Bony hands encircling my throat and pushing
Into formation. The existence of new words--
Always the ones in the language before,
Though in this birth the roots twist under the tree.
They stand with their hands in their pockets.
One man adjusts his mesh cap, an excuse.
Something tiny, precious, real bleeps furiously through cargo khakis.
He types expertly with one finger and smiles chapped lips to himself.
Leaning against the uneven coffee counter, he reaches for his latte
and walks out the door with his fashion twin and best work friend:
grown men who assimilate in substandard choices to fit-in
years past high school.
Because you cannot use borrowed breath,
and move lips of another
that are pasted on your face.*

These words swam through
my mind
behind my eyes
and never visited your mind
or saw green swamp irises.

My words wear shackles;
the chain attaches stubbornly
against a cloud of nothingness,
the cloak you wear and the plume that spreads
behind you, where I am--
trailing the ground, dirtying, muddying.

How nimble the fingers that point at the WomanChild,
the creature who does not learn to grow
because she wants to keep living and borrowing time,
not breaths, not skin cells and DNA and memories
that do not erase without ripping up the cassette and the VCR.

My words were meant to meet yours and touch pinkies.
Your thoughts made your words and body and smile lines
Run, run as fast as you could
                     from a Monster, a Curse, a King.

I am the sword of tongue and the fist that crumbles
when a beetle passes by.

You are scared of me.
I am the voice that crept up the water.
Sleeping, not sinking. My arm hair
stood straighter, not softening in the lake.

Wake up. Open eyes. Gasp for air.
Dark black cool everywhere I looked.
No one tells you that drowning
isn't dying.

their voices pelted spit wads.
their fear launched missiles.
their apathy sank a princess.
I watched with my screaming eyes.

When I sank I surrendered;
shiftless, restful, still.
But I did not die.

Death is the worn wet whisper.
Death comes to those who wait.
Death embraces cell fish.

And I would know.
They swim all around me.
On the land, never the water.

To them the depths of this lake
ensured my silence.
Then I woke and saw nothing,
felt nothing, knew nothing,
except for the last breath that moved seagulls
and drew mermaids near.
Sands slip through my fingers,
sun scorched with dried blood
staining the palm where I wiped the blade.

I did not bleed. I did not bat my eyes
when his severed limb flew past my face.
My eyes opened wider and tasted victory
more intently than my screams
vanquished his memory.

I thought it was but an apparition on the sands
miles past; a haunting, a demon, a scorned lover
back for revenge now that I made off with valuables:
the fastest steed, the cave within me
where he stored his treasure when he pleased.

Thus when he appeared, when he charged by foot
and outstretched his arms (much smaller from my new height)
feebly, weakly to end me first, so he could brag to the village,
"She is like the women who believe they can fly."

I do fly
to my sword,
my hand unsheathes the blazing boiling metal.
With one sharp ting I watch his arm and the tiny dagger
sail across the desert and settle atop the sand,
gently gracefully, unlike his living, boasting words
would have wanted.

To the man who brought destruction in the depths,
where coolness and faithful waters dripped down the walls;
where no one dared near for fear of the One who is near me.

They will say warrior was born of ruins.
If they ask me, I will say, "Warrior is born of defeat no more."
These are the words you will never read.
You will not see them, feel them, or remember
the weight they add to the burdens on my back.
And the guilt. The shame slides down my shoulders
and falls like puddles around my feet,
scorching my ankles with the splash.
My emotions are bubbling lava, brilliant light,
alluring, engulfing,
destroyer of apathetic eyes (rolling ***** of white gush)

There are three words you will never hear.
"I love you" came first, when the bump grew bumpier:
little, softer tummy; deadly force.
"I give up" comes now in tiny exhalations from my
bigger, clumsier fingers than that which we lack.
I say these three words to myself until I stop believing,
and my tears stop falling and my lips stop smiling.
The most fixed point in the wall I find. And stare.
We have a contest, and, of course, the wall wins.
Blink. I blink. I do the worst, the expected.

I try again.

I try a thousand new ways, ways I planned
with alternate routes and "just in case" setbacks.
When we meet I extend my hands, and warm my smile
with round shiny eyes. The dimple peers through my cheek,
never shy, always ready for the man I choose again and again.

This time half of my body felt half of his as we stood
in the rain and in the muggy sticky late August air.
In vain, I grabbed his arm, whirled it in an air circle,
until his fingers released and he walked to his car.
I watched. He didn't look back. He walked and unlocked.
and steadily then swiftly drove away.

The clouds grew closer until night spread across the sky,
Music imprisoned my ears and my eyes refused to open.
The car remained on a path, even without my consent.

I walked into the arms of a black skinny creature that whined,
eagerly scratched my arms with her black nails.
She looked as worried as I actually lived, every day
in fear of failing my work, my hopes, myself.
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