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Heartstroke

Filter the impulse,
pulse a hummingbird
flickering paper wings beneath
thin papyrus skin–
a battle of breaths
you can’t hope to win
when hearts crack like drywall
and dry veins cave in
to old habits.

Resist the dreaming,
a scheming resolution
absolving no one–
the deep dark
seeds and breeds jealous,
seething monsters,
an ulcer of want-tos but never-cans
broiling, roiling, coiling like chains
to choke you up and drag you down.

Skip over the moment
you bend, give in–
there’s a life sentence found
in debating fail safes and stalemates,
a stagnant soul mating
the ghosts of burned bridges
like an impasse is over an in instant.

In this moment,
your heart is sparking
and the flames are catching fast.

–Copyright Elizabeth Mathis, February 2016–

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Pondering Giraffes

Capture

we watched a giraffe fall five feet into the world.

bleating and blinking,
shivering with cold –
a harsh reality breaking.

“they rarely lie down,” you murmured,
breath fluttering against the conched curves of my ears.

you told me giraffes sleep on their hooves –
and even then, only for two hours.
cowed by their strength, i pondered a life on my feet;
calves burning, heels blistering, back bent forward with cramps.

after ten minutes, the newborn –
fresh faced and spot painted –
plucked hooves from thick tumbleweeds
and ran with the herd
head high, muscles rippling
as if not just thrust from the womb.

“i wonder,” you whispered,
soft fingers trailing the gooseflesh of my skin,
“what it says about humans that animals learn on the run.”

i pondered this
while watching tall shapes turn to silhouettes
in the sunset.

“it means,” i smiled, turning to face you,
“we know less about animals than we think.”

—copyright Elizabeth Mathis, December 2014—

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Counting the Spaces Between (original poem)

Today’s forecast:
sorrow with a chance of supernova.
This update brought to you by Kleenex:
when the silent weight of the spaces in between
drags you down to drown beneath,
count on lotion soft to lift you up!
(partnered with Red Bull–
soft cheeks and heart palpitations guaranteed;
please mix responsibly)

In other news, the Prince of Zombie Hearts
has struck once more — a senseless slaughter.

WARNING: the following footage
is not suitable for young children or the weak-stomached;
please switch the channel now.

On location, Paul is talking pulse-beats with the body.
She’s a few words of warning to our watchers
on how to love and leave over the holidays.
Let’s listen in…

Bridge the gap from minute
to minute moments–
doomed desperation keeps track
with discounted touches
and reaching fingers.

You’re damned, darling,
just a bystander looking in on destiny
set to repeat the crime spree,
set to screw up the crime scene,
set to hopscotch the rocks of your feelings
across the ripples of time,
the fading lines whispering
‘breathing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be
when it’s crackling your love into splinters.’

You’ll skip out on depression,
leave her broken and blurred
heart spurned but still pounding
beneath the paper-thin sheets of winter-wisp beds —
a haunting of names not remembered,
a splicing of shame not forgiven,
a reckless betrayal you grin and bare to the world.

When snow flurries fly sparrow-heavy
in the abyss of your breaths,
you’ll think of her and wonder
how she’s getting on getting by without.

Send your selfish regards
care of vein burbles, care of thought bubbles,
a tic tac toe you can’t win —
keep your sifting, nimble thimble fingers
away from the cutting board
and out of her hourglass heart.

Please, leave her mourning.

It’s far better that
than sleeping peace and waking alone.

–copyright Elizabeth Mathis; November 2015–

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hope floating (original poem)

punch drunk and bewitched,
i’ll cork my heartbeats
and count sweeps of lighthouse dust instead

caked with time, the pivot point creaks–
a soliloquy of strangled breathstrokes

there’s a boat heavy on the horizon
with a hole the size of my fist
seeping water like tears,
cabins dark with dismissal–
the weight of my promises, my dreamaches–

my nightmares sink it quick,
another pendant for Davy Jones’ necklace

empty chest, clenched fingers,
I’ll turn my eyes to coral reefs
and think of Figi, of green pastures,
of reckless indifference
in a world given up long ago

sweep the rust from broken hinges,
put my treasure chest hopes on a shelf
and blow out the light

–Copyright Elizabeth Mathis, Oct 2015–

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Ocean Swept (original poem)

the ocean is quilted with goodbyes,
a patchwork trove of heart death
breathless and beat lost

lungs rip in the breakwater,
breaks creak in the cracked masts
of stair stepper spines
because the strength you siphoned
from dead haunts and graveyard poets
left warped handholds
and treachery in the falling:
a host of hesitant admittances
you refuse to put your name to
even now

instead, you bask in anonymity

Lucky Laura from Classic Lit
will take the strappy heels you slipped
beneath the fringe of two-ply sheets
home with her, leaving antique heart rust flakes
tucked like treasure payment
into half-empty Advil bottles

it was a swap and shift, a bliss inconsistent
in its reverent impotence–

years from this moment,
you’ll lick your lips after champagne
and swallow the whispers of his name

he was never more than saltwater
in all your open wounds
and
you’ll never break the same