Chris Roberts-Antieau  © 2008 All Rights Reserved


The yew tree dangles its berries
into curable poison.

You gag.

But you feed ad nauseam
on your own skinless heart,
the meat lean, the getting easy.
Your cheap tongue a pendulum
ricocheting in your throat.

You consume mathematics
at an alarming rate.
Curry favor with your new sinewy body,
your delicate wing bones cinch
your spine like tea saucers
about to snap.

Even the ground you walk on resists you.

Twenty blackbirds baked in a pie
and ache and ache and ache,
and non-fat Cool Whip
at four o’clock sharp.

Your grandmother advised you
to press a wet diaper
to your face
to erase those pesty freckles.
She was busy eating buttered toast.

You adapt to starving like a garden to winter.

If you live by the list,
you write like this.
You go on and on.
You become boring beyond redemption.
There is no nurse, softly padding.
There is no clean plate club rally.
You suck salt to gain water.
You put things in your mouth
that are not pretty.

You vomit the earth.

There is no other word
for mouth.


Ellen Elder
Copyright © 2008


Ellen Elder is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where her fiction was nominated for the Best New American Voices 2006. She is co-poetry editor of Cream City Review. She was awarded The Academy of American Poet’s Prize from Miami University of Ohio. Her work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, DMQ Review, Cream City Review, Plainsongs and elsewhere. She is at work on a memoir, Feast.

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