She wears her nose high, oil-slicked hair
curling around a nest of bones.
She’s built a throne out of all the books
you’ll ever want to read, and you may have them,
so long as you kick away the hands that tug
on the hem of your shirt, begging to be fed.
Dried flowers have melted into his skin.
His face: a painted skull.
These are the velvet coats you’ve longed
to waltz into, the right hands
to make you a painter’s dream,
just like a nautilus shell hollowed
of its creature.
They are the sound of polite applause,
snickering fangs behind gloved mouths.
They have lounged in every compliment
you’ve been given, squirting
all your achievements with lemons
She has a way of turning up lovely
in velvet and chains,
bedroom lips and bedroom eyes.
Shadows lurk at every corner,
but she is afraid of you.
Just rot in a hole. No one wants
to hear you stutter.
A slippered madman is in a rocking chair
at the back of your father’s head.
Lightning crackles in his soldier hands.
He screams about a kidnapper’s baby.
You are worth only as much as this,
this future of broken windows and heart attacks.
Your birthright, such hysteria.
They are beans, they are powder, addiction
as rich as jade and quetzal feather.
You have no defenses against the milk of it,
the bitter. It steals into your body like a thief,
paints your hand with sweetness
it no longer possesses, no longer can.
I have lived in nothing but cages,
of hands and the ribs. My tales
have launched a thousand oars,
brought down their greatest houses…
but never you and never yours.
Bathe my feet in tears and swallow.
For even if you were the kindest,
most deserving of women,
I would never look twice.
Ellen Webre is a biracial poet from Southern California. She is a former editor of the Calliope literary magazine, and is currently enjoying the Orange County poetry scene. She has mini chapbook published with Bitterzoet Press, and her work has appeared in Black Napkin Press, The Metaworker, Kindofahurricane Press, and is upcoming in the New Engagement. She can be found at www.facebook.com/ellenwebrepoetry/
Artwork: Sarah Ann Loreth