What about me looks like I care
about men. I want my lover’s breast
to choke me on its way to my heart.
What about me makes you think I’d
crave your day-old ego—man-wretch.
Child-man. I want to grow away from
this bench I was told to sit on ‘til
I felt the brunt of G-d’s hatred in every
inch of my fat. I wasn’t a thin boy. I wasn’t
a woman the way I wanted a woman. Roll
your neck as if the injury isn’t personal
because the injury isn’t personal. Place an ad
and answer it immediately. In the basement
of my pleasure I was raped by every man
who ever touched me. What do I mean.
Can you stand to look me in the eye and
ask me what exactly I mean. At the bottom
of the book is a riddle: what happened to
this child to make her into a confused
little beggar: what happened to this little
pervert then: what is happening now:
In the basement of my memory I was
raped by my _____. In the basement
of my imagination I was shackled
to the low table by my ________. In
the basement of my shame I was
under the actual boot of my ______.
I want you to cause me pain I ask for
and can understand. It’s a witch’s way
of filling the basement with meadow.
Elaina Ellis is the author of WRITE ABOUT AN EMPTY BIRDCAGE (Write Bloody Publishing) and the recipient of poetry fellowships from Lambda Literary, TENT, and Mineral School. She received an ArtistTrust GAP Award to complete her second collection, I'M ONLY PRAYING TO BELIEVE WHAT'S TRUE, which responds to the text and impulses of the biblical Book of Ezekiel. She earned her MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles, and lives in Washington State where she works at Copper Canyon Press.