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Elizabeth Kelly Mar 2022
There’s a spark
Cradled in the hot and glowing dark
And all mine
A hidden or forgotten corner
Once a wasteland
Now a hearth

(Burn this ******* forest to the ground)

Kindling catches
Discarded matches
Wild; raging
The brain detaches
Elizabeth Kelly Feb 2022
My then boyfriend
Now husband
Never forgave you for putting your hand on my thigh,
Casually mentioning the ******* beaches in the south of France.
Your daughter needed a chaperone on your family’s upcoming vacation.

You went and I stayed of course
The ******* beach all the poorer for my absence.

I am not the kind of girl who
Finds herself at Disney Paris at the end of the movie.
That’s not the way this movie ends, anyhow.

12 years later
One lung lighter
Tens of millions denser
and poised to send your daughter
to Dartmouth
Or Tulane
Or anywhere she’d rather.

She’ll have everything the world could offer her
In exchange for her father.

A parent shouldn’t have to know.

So I forgave you the hand thing
And the lewdness of a drunken survivor
Poised on the lip of an ever-widening hole.

If you asked to take me now,
I think I’d go.
I’ve always wanted to see the Louvre.
I can almost hear it:
The clicking heels and murmurs,
Your overwrought humanities professor explanations of this or that and me humoring you with appropriate reverence as always,
And the dead certain silence of the thing we will not speak about,
Pointedly conspicuous in its absence,
Filling the space between.
Dedicated to my friend John, a mesothelioma survivor. This is my 100th published poem on HelloPoetry
Elizabeth Kelly Feb 2022
I wipe away mascara,
Glad, so glad, to cry with you.

It was a rough day
We tried.

We are all creatures of emotion
And what do we really ever leave behind
But our attempts at understanding?

Our attempts at crawling inside someone else
And crying with them?

The loss so great,
We’re overwhelmed by their suffering as they relay their first earthquake;
Their restraining order against their child’s father.

I am the odd man out
And I’m still okay,
Wiping away mascara.

Glad, so glad, to cry with you.
Elizabeth Kelly Feb 2022
Rachel coughs in the room next to me
A mattress on the floor cradling her softly
As the air mattress beneath me dies a slow, excruciating death.

(I chose this for myself -
Rachel has a bad back, remember;
My own back groans in protest.)

We moved you from Cleveland to San Diego -

three days of driving

- Rachel and my competing energies warring silently the entire time,

Both wishing

The other

were not there.

I reflect on the number:


It’s your brother’s jersey number
And everywhere in your mother’s house
(Ten years now since he chose
To leave this earth)

We three kings,
The magic number,

A crowd.

Its my birth order
Three of Five
-the middle child-

Guess I’ve always been
The odd man out.
Elizabeth Kelly Jan 2022
Wine slides into my belly
Hot and acid
Mm, needs to breathe.

Empty, a domed cavern
my mother aghast.

Cast the flashlight around.
If there’s a heart here,
Let it show itself and
Rage the kettle drums
Of war.

Unleash in pieces,
Conceal the door.

Red with pink flowers
This blanket
And maybe on my insides too.
Blossom as they break apart.

Machine, start
Crush and crunch your barbs
Flick the crumbs away and reshape:
Curly hair remorseful,
Sad and sorry face.

You know I love being right
And I knew this was going to be a ******* day.
Elizabeth Kelly Jan 2022
Every job interview
Feels like fighting to prove that
I deserve to exist.

Sitting at the kitchen table in a towel
Eating strawberry yogurt,
I wonder if I’ll leave on time.

32 minutes and counting.
Elizabeth Kelly Jan 2022
I don’t know what you want,
What you like.
Write and write
To the tune of my own insight
Little praise,
Wish I might.

For a validation addict,
Pouring out my heart
To crickets
Is a nifty trick.
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