Kelly Ellis

We are pleased to welcome Kelly Ellis, who will be reading at our August 1st Library Reading Series event. She has agreed to share some of her work with us in advance of the event.

 

American Prairie: A Word from the Sullen Blonde

 

Jack Kerouac spent his last

seven bucks on beers

trying to pick up two girls

whose names he didn’t know:

a fat brunette and his favorite,

the sullen blonde

who didn’t want to walk back

over that vast and quiet

American prairie

alone.

 

At least Andrew Wyeth gave

his girl a name, not just space

on a page. Christina

owned that world

he said, so she did.

If you name it, you own it—

at least that’s how it went down

in Eden.

 

But you don’t own me

later sang the Shangrila’s

or some-such tough

girls in stretch pants

and sixties bouffants,

with names you forget

or never knew

unlike Nancy Sinatra

whose shiny white boots

never walked a mile

in this sullen blonde’s

shoes

 

traipsing

down-in-the-heel

over that flat expanse,

of field that no one owns,

quivering like a sheath of wheat,

never gathered, cast-off as chaff,

no oak for shade, no boulder to hide

behind, a mere mirage of fluid light,

or blurr on a boxcar swallowed by

the ruthless, indifferent,

merciless sky.

 

Deconstructing the Ars Poetica  

 

But I beg to differ:

Every poem is confessional.

Criminals return to the scene of the crime.

Ghosts haunt the windows of murders and suicides.

Lady Macbeth scrubs and scrubs her little hands—

It’s all the same, truth be told.

Whether I poison or bludgeon my husband,

he’s still dead. I come back to make bloody sure.

He likewise returns, incredulous, to that same damned spot,

and we scour it again, again—lily hands and ashy, bended knees.

 

Let’s say you, Mr. Poet, eulogize the Hindenburg,

the soft rain that began before it lowered tethers,

turning it into a lightning rod, which caused it to explode–

because the air was so charged, you know—

and hydrogen is different from helium,

not just the way it makes us talk and giggle,

but also how it was rationed, how rational,

because of the shortage, the war, nationalism,

combustion, and so forth, well, it’s really just the story

of  your divorce, in yet another form.

 

Transmogrifying:

A word you stole from John Crowe Ransom,

that constipated Modernist, who used it to describe a bee,

its sting, and the death of a chicken, which of course, wasn’t a bird

but something sexual, note the use of purple, imagery engorged,

and poets are applauded for subterfuge.But back to my point.

What I really want to say is this:  Ever since we did what we did

in the dark of night on the Day of the Dead,

every poem I write is a shower,

each kiss, a succubus,

I suffer from psychosis,

and the air is riddled with saints.