Sarah Ellis Apr 2011

Working at the amusement park is a grand old time.
There’s nothing like having to hide
In the ticket booth when you wanna smoke a joint
So your boss doesn’t find out and fire you.
Every ride has bright, multicolored lights
And this is how I waste my time away.

The closest bathroom is half a mile away,
Those Porta-Johns are full all the time
And always smell like Marlboro Lights
It’s where those teen brats like to hide.
A kid always asks for another toy gun from you
And immediately bends it all out of joint.

Jocks, barbies and snotty kids mill around this joint,
Throwing all their money away
Buying more and more tickets from you
Screaming, complaining, cheating all the time
And there’s no good place to hide
With all these obnoxious lights.

They’re poor substitute for big city lights,
They only illuminate this cheesy joint,
Don’t even let dirty gutters hide—
I’m surprised they don’t want to look away.
Cotton candy disappears in your mouth every time,
But you think it’s worth it, don’t you?

The only boy who ever liked you
Works across the park, beyond the lights,
But you miss him waving at you every time
Because some skeez is yelling, “Let’s blow this joint!”
And a mom drags her eight kids away
Screaming, “One more word and I’ll tan your hide!”

Why do the five-year-olds always play hide
And seek in the Fun House? “Hey, you!”
Where the hell are your parents? Go away!”
Finally Anna, who manages mini golf, lights
A gloriously white-papered little joint
And we smoke until closing time.

This is where I hide, and yet these lights
Are poor substitutes you know, for home, the joint
You tried to get away from, before you wasted your time.

Sarah Ellis Apr 2011

The glint
in Miss Jessel’s hair
was so simple, so quick,
that I almost missed it,
like an answer to a riddle.
Suddenly, I cared about derivatives
even less.
So casual, how she tossed her strands,
and yet how cleverly she caught me.

It wrapped me up tight
in a cotton memory
of home, when I was nine,
beneath a fort of pillows
and hiding from the night.
Her glint of blonde hair now
was the light from my hall then
that peeked through my door
to tuck me in.

My parents’ shadows
walked across my bedroom wall
and I saw them in her hair
now, as if my past were a part of her body.
My father’s silhouette from twelve years ago
snuck in to Miss Jessel’s hair
as if he were going to bed
down the hall
in the nape of my teacher’s neck.

Sarah Ellis Apr 2011

I live in a box
Full of yellowed papers
And a kitchen half-painted
Viridian green.

My little house
Always smells of your coffee
Because tea for one
Is lonely in the morning.

I draw the curtains sometimes
And crawl in that queen-sized bed,
Confessing all my secrets
Beneath our tent of sheets.

If they could bottle you
I would add a slice of lime
And drink you dry,
My Communion.

I come home each night
Carrying you across the threshold,
And we play hide and seek
From the world outside.

Sarah Ellis Mar 2011

There’s never been a man like Grandpa Hayes
‘Cause all the tales about him must be true:
Broke sixteen horses less’n seven days
And stole the Rancher’s girl in only two.
He lived for eighty years ‘cause he was skilled,
An expert shot who never came out worse.
His .32 was from a man he killed
The only one who’d ever shot him first.
A family curse what made him ride so fast
‘Cause lightnin struck his daddy graveyard dead
They say it turned his uncle into ash
And then it got his cousin in the head.
So Grandpa spent his life outrunnin clouds
Just lookin for a truth he never found.

Sarah Ellis Mar 2011

I slip my tender toes into your familiar bind,
your pink laces twist up my legs
and animate me.

En pointe, my toes are perched upon their boxes,
and your silken arms embrace my ankles
as if I walk on nothing.

Fuetes swing you around and I am a circus ride,
turned into painted porcelain,
a spinning doll.

I spend months with you, scuffing your soles, tearing your cloth,
burning your laces, stretching your lips.
We become old.

One day they will put us both in a tiny fabric box,
only to spin when it opens, only to dance
at the soft tinkling of a bell.

Sarah Ellis Feb 2011

Her hands were small, pruned,
looked clammy, very cold perhaps
with purple seeping up through
her tiny nails.

She twisted the ring on her left third finger
round and round, deftly,
as if she had been doing it for years.
The small diamond awoke in the dim light,
like a beady eye from a dark forest.

What she rethinking everything?

She looked up suddenly,
pulled hard on the brake cord yelling
"Stop!"
and flew out into the night the second the bus
came to a pause.

Sarah Ellis Feb 2011

I heard it
just before my campfire
slowed, oddly calm--
the howl seared my peace
from an unknown distance.

I could see it in the trees;
the nervous leaves shivered,
lost their snow,
perhaps wishing me to flee.

But the howl cut into my ears
and huddled there,
its feet scratching,
its fur bristling--

I shook my head free
but its breath smothered me,
hot, rank, ripe with waiting
impatiently.

An angry wind shoved the trees
and jostled the crowd of yelling leaves
urging me, run run
but the howl was all I knew--

Suddenly, I could taste what the howl wanted:
smooth fur and malleable flesh
that falls apart in its captor's teeth
before it knows to writhe,
simple, easy, like biting into a peach
and I savored the metallic tang of conquest.

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