to myself, by well bucket.
i want to be gentle right now,
coax the coal burning down your
throat out with sweet tasting bait,
words like “it’s okay that you didn’t
complete your assignment tonight,”
“it is fine to not have eaten today,”
“i don’t hold this against you,”
but please know, i do;
not like a knife to your neck,
but like my hand on your back,
because when hope seems out of
stock, locked tight behind the
confines of your body,
i will build and be the factory,
shipping straight to
your fingertips’ home address,
though i know they don’t hit like home right now,
but trust me, they are,
because they are my home
you are my blood, my best thing,
i will stop what seeks to kill you,
and that includes yourself.
so when every step towards the bathroom
to shower feels like it’s ploughing
through the thick mud of gutless life,
when the water in your eyes
reflects off encouraging words like
the ceiling of our atmosphere,
when you are too tired for poeticism,
know that this is not the first time
you have met rock bottom,
and that does not mean you are friends,
but we both know the freeze of that floor
too well to sleep now.
i have been your mother and your father,
tucked your body into the crook of my elbow,
carried you out of caverns far sharper than this one,
and all you have to do for me, right now,
fill both lungs with all you can take,
and when it comes time to exhale,
know it is only to make room for more.
portrait of a burning manufacturing plant, or a tribute to the trans women in my community
the woman swaying down the sidewalk
does not like to be stared at. she likes to be
known, and to be understood. in
the sunlight, you would know that eyeliner
is more golden than yellow and the tar
they tried to stick between her fingers
is thicker than any blood, but not thicker
than the skin she’s grown in the time since they left
her. they would say the womb has walls, not wings,
that the body has bounds it must fit in,
that she is anything but herself. yet there is
nothing permanent about the flesh, nothing
so lively about it but the sweat, the words.
the salt on body that comes from belief in action.
the syllables screamed over crowds of unbelievers until
someone heard. heard sylvia. heard danica.
heard a breath louder than the insults.
she stands out, her style a crown, a shield,
and a sword all in one. her flair, unlearned, is born
of things that predate and outsmart the old world
schema. she is the new world in a hot pink dress
and blue pumps, built from by-law breakers, makers
of space, long nights that seemed endless for people
with the wrong clothes and the wrong heart,
covenants of culture, painting the colors
flying above our heads, and when i look
between her smile and the flag,
i can see the resemblance.
Ellie Elrod is a Charleston-born poet and movie aficionado who’s currently attending Berkeley Center for the Arts as an 11th grade Creative Writing major. Their works have been published in The Post and Courier, The Maze 2020, and Desk Gum (Goose Creek High School’s Arts Magazine), as well as being awarded by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and MUSC. A lot of their time is spent attempting to learn French, Korean, and Guitar.
Visual art by: Sebastian Bateman