Notches: Thoracic

Notches: Thoracic


The Notch Stepladder

Spine Sketch


Her smokestack tower is crooked, bent. She curves and feels those crumpled bodies shifting, grinding; making room as she backbends and writhes under sweating soldiers. They hold her down, fingers in the grooves of her back, between the careful notches they craft for all future builders. Each one adds their own carefully whittled bone: another step to the spiral staircase, another push-to-shove to the already-leaning column, another broken wishbone to the topple-over tower.

She stacks these toy soldiers like books, like bodies. Like piles of bones. They were her architects and her material; she their skeleton statuette: a structure they built to break.


First time flesh felt flesh: the pink, the pucker, that sweet exhaling kiss.

He rubbed (soft) against her parted petals—his hand holding the bud of her neck, digging roots into the garden of her tangled hair.

In that crampy-closed closet she felt in the dark his planes and faults. The ridges of his abdomen, the trenches lining his spine. His body a desert landscape, her an almost-mirage. The heavy hold of his hand again at her neck, the choke, the push-pull-no-sorry-letmego.

He did. He fled the garden, tasted tulips instead. He blew a desert storm through other fenced-in beds. Pansies and chrysanthemums, those he could choke without thorns. But he returned to prick her pretty blossom, force her to be bled (a gentle rosewater red) before snapping her vertebrae stem.

He, a bee set to sting she, a trampled bed of roses.

A soiled soil. A space for graves.


She was so young too young too soft too sweet to resist.
Too easy to trick-tease, to whisper those sweet nothings, to make her his.
Lolita tongue stained red, little –lita hands tiny in his monster paws. He scratched her freckled flesh with wolfish claws, he gobbled her all up and grandma wasn’t in her bed.
She was so young too young too dumb too scared to resist.
Too quiet to speak-sound the alarm, to shout the all-abouts to have him found out.
The gap in age just a turning page, he tore the books in two. Pages strewn around that red red bed: those off-white sheets, a rope to keep his china doll safe-sound in her padded-cell head.

Until finally he had ground her down,
snapped bones around,
and stacked her
(bit and pieced)

upon the mounting rubbish heap.


Baby boy. Count the stars with me.
One two three a hundred a million trillion.
Kiss me on my lips so tattered,
We are nothing nowheres. We are the barely-theres.
Just freckled constellations rubbing, crashing,
Burning into one another.
Like the dripping crystalline, the shoot-up soot,
That flings and wings across the starry spectator sky.
The world’s crease meets at our embrace
Where we drift, forever in-between
And undefined by horizon-lines.

This starstruck memory, so dear to me
So laced with ecstacy, with
That forget-me-not love we made-believed.

 I almost forget how you hammer-smashed me
When summer bled into fall,
Tugged at the seams of sky and dreams
To beat-bust-break it all.



 She was a victim shame-blamed vixen.
Deserved his trap, that stinking bed.
Another wolf to hunt her down
and shred red velvet threads.

She was a credent cry for attention.
Dared to bare a naked nape. Soiled cape
Stained to replicate
His monstrous, blonde-beast shape.

She was forlorn and forgotten:
Fifteen. Forbidden Fruit.
She was a tease to tantalize him:
Pretty pink and mute.
She was an exception to equations:
Treading that dirty river twice.
She was already all bone-broken:
Sharded, rearranged not-quite-right.

Day by day she would relive it,
Between cracks in mirror-glares—
A pretty price his wife had placed
On hooded girls everywhere.



Cliffside cutouts and honey whiskey kisses: sloppy and scratchy, steamy and frisky. They met under a night sky, lit by fireworks furiously pervading through a stubborn fog. July, July. Little rocks poked into her back, marking indentations, branding between her bones. Hand to thigh, heart to hip, lip to collarbone—their bodies were puzzle pieces, forcing to fit. Broken stone-bitten bruises mapped the trail his body broke her, bit by bit; his hands tracing the outline of that jagged cliff into the ridged route of her twisted spine, boring her into the bluffs—crumbling her into the sea.  He painted her blue, but he didn’t stay to see.

He was the torch she held to her velveteen sky.
He was…

he wasn’t.


Held again, chokehold and choking.
The old in-out.
Her chapped-lip mouth.
Spit spat all that
Hear it fall (pit pat),
Don’t breath Don’t seize Don’t cry—
Don’t stare that wolf-boy in the eye.

Just suck real hard,
(“Babygirl–”) draw deep: After all,

“You deserve that cigarette.”



Sleeping tight, wrapped up right, rid of wolf-bitten bites.
Ah—but there he is.

Crawled right in the in-between sheets, the steady heartbeats of your liquor-lit sleep.
And his hands—cold, but clawless.

Riding the length of your legs, slipping under hip-dips, sculpting that way that you lay.
And he’s growling—“I want you.”

You choose not to reply, just glance up through your lashes, smoldering dreamy-eyed.
His mouth—it’s upon you.

Biting hard, groove-bruise maps: tainting bones and burnt blushes you’d never get back.
But oh—how he kissed you.

Sometimes stolen and swift; sometimes deep-dark and longing-laced, like you were it.
And you arched: And he broke you, split the sky right in two—

This boy took that which you let no man take from you.



He clung (hands held hard) to her monkey-bar ribcage, gripping fast to her carousel hips. She tried to shake him off, starving her wasteland weary-ways, but he wouldn’t abandon her bonely-built playground. So he sucked sallow cheeks and built her collarbone crowns, condemning her to his carcass kingdom where romance had long ago been rubbed raw and away. He swung from her ventricles, slid down chordae and valves, beating her hollow-heart drum back to life every day.
beneath skeletal branches and bloodshot-blue skies, his fairground fell ashes to ashes, dust unto dust.

The sandbox was empty.

The graveyard was full.


This next notch: already missing—a broken-off brick bit in the space he’ll leave once he’s gone.  Knowing he’s going, his
ad-infinitum always
ivory irony
brittle, break-apart words—

Soon silent (varnishing vanished)
their echoing emptiness
(in between sheets? Separation of stars?)
spaceless spaces in strata:

he inhabits to abandon,
he lives to covertly covet crumpling,
feigning falling,
a ghost before goodbye.

And the breakable bone balance will “we-all-fall-down”–
And the task of the stacking will have all been for nothing–
And when leveled she’ll have to wait weary and want-knotting
To be broken up and bruise-wise built






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