Two Poems by Ellie Elrod

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 

too.

 

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, 

is breathe.

 

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.

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