0

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–

6

blackbird poets

this story could be about divorce,
but you are not a ghost, not yet.

you asked me what poets were–
it is the middle of the night
and there is a cheap hotel room
i cannot fathom myself into.

i smoked my first cigarette
the first time i saw you naked,
your lonely colors carved into arcs;
now, my hands are brittle
and your back is an expanse
i will write about
a year from here
where it wears thin
because poetry is for the birds
and i am not made to lead revolutions.

twenty one and imprinted,
i have learned to grovel.

—copyright Elizabeth Mathis, September 2014—
—This is a first line poem originally posted on my deviantart: http://betwixtthepages.deviantart.com/art/blackbird-poets-481211390 —

4

Driftwood Dreams (original poem)

(for Mel — hopeburnsblue )

Hope, burning, blew
like driftwood across white beaches
as sunrise breached
the distant horizon line.

Life driftwood on white beaches,
sand sullied calm dreams.
The distant horizon line,
turbulent, wailed a mourning.

Sand sullied calm dreams
like a burden we couldn’t shake.
Turbulent, wailing a mourning,
we loosed wishes to the sea.

Like a burden we couldn’t shake,
sunrise breached as
we loosed wishes to the sea:
hope burning blue.

–Copyright Elizabeth Mathis ; Nov 2015–

0

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