4 poems

By Elizabeth Ellen



for garielle lutz


(the) Conjuring


As a new hobby, I think about sabotaging our relationship. I think about this a lot while we’re at Home Depot looking at Christmas lights.

“If we ended it right now, think about how good it would end,” I say.

You look at me funny when I say this. We are each buying a new Dustbuster, tho for some reason yours costs twenty dollars more than mine.

“I don’t get you, baby, why would you say shit like that?” you say, your mask under your nose. “If you want to break up with me, just do it; get it over with.”

But that’s not what I’m saying at all.


I spend another twenty minutes after dinner fantasizing about ending things. You come in from smoking and playing video games on my front porch and I’m crying and crying. I thought you’d left.

“I’m just so tired,” I say. I am apologetic. (I am your baby, your baby girl.)


I hide my eyes with your hands. An hour ago you wanted me to dominate you. Thigh highs, cock ring, handcuffs. You can’t get more All-American than that.


When you come inside me you say: shit, goddamn, fuck.
When you come inside I say, “We better break up now,” and I am crying and crying.


◊ ◊ ◊


another denis johnson ER story


It was almost a year to the day of my last ER visit
i knew now where to go –
front desk, guy w blood pressure machine, hallway bench, blood test


i sat in the waiting area after all that, waiting and trying not to think
about covid19
everyone in the waiting area was visibly trying not to think abt covid19
we were all doing ok
all of us except the older woman in the wheelchair
the older woman in the wheelchair started yelling,
Hello? hello? I’ve been here three hours, I’m in pain, I have an open wound!
a nurse glanced over
Yes, ma’am, the nurse said
but the nurse didn’t do anything. no one did anything
the old woman just sat in her wheelchair, holding her side
while i tried to determine if she was crazy or had an open wound or
If she was crazy and had an open wound, whatever


time passed and i stopped trying to determine things
that went double for my own problems
path of least resistance, i told myself multiple times a day
that worked okay most of the time
i barely drank anymore
i kept thinking “sit and drink pennyroyal tea” while smoking
on my porch with a mug of chamomile


someone had accused me of being a drunk
i didn’t mind
i would be whatever anyone wanted me to be
i had been a rape apologist, I’d been cancelled
i would be a drunk also


path of least resistance
90s apathy; whatever, bro


i was at the ER because i couldn’t take the burning anymore
it burned like shit every time I pissed and sometimes when i didn’t
sometimes my vagina just burned for no good reason


i’d gone to the urgent care by my house five days before, pissed in a plastic cup,
had a greasy-haired doctor touch my pelvis
you don’t have a UTI, he said
he sent my piss out to a lab for further testing
further testing was a polite way of saying STDs


back in July i’d had chlamydia
oh, I’d had yeast, too
i’d fucked a lot and this was my comeuppance
for all that Detroit motel fucking
the heart-shaped hot tubs
the greasy briskets after …
the cigarettes and the cigarettes and the cigarettes


but that was in July and now it was December
and it burned, burned, burned again and again and again
path of least resistance had led me to the ER
i didn’t have health insurance
i didn’t have a general practitioner
i didn’t have a gynecologist


i had a fibroid the size of a small orange (shout out FKA twigs!)
and low hemoglobin (could I sue somebody, too?!)
i had a boyfriend i liked to fuck
despite the fibroid and the low hemoglobin
the chlamydia and the yeast


we still fucked anyway
even tho I burned
i texted him a photo of my arm w the blood thing in it
i texted him while he was still at work –
afternoon shift, millwright, auto plant
(he could have been a pipefitter! – he’d told me once, late at night, phone sex’ing)
i was in my own room by then –
a room with a bed and a TV and a remote
like a motel in Detroit but much more expensive
i had white blood cells in my urine,
my hemoglobin was lower than it’d ever been!
earlier that morning i’d considered climbing the stairs to the second floor
it’d felt like considering climbing a mountain
or at the very least a tall hill
i was tired as fuck, is what I mean
i didn’t know how i was going to wrap all those Christmas presents,
how i was going to host guests
how i was going to keep fucking my coulda-been-a-pipefitter! bf


I lay in the hospital bed changing channels
that show w andy griffith was on
i can never remember if it’s called the andy griffith show
or mayberry r.f.d.
maybe those were two diff shows
from my childhood
i don’t know, i can’t remember


i lay there watching andy griffith with the tv muted thinking,
maybe i have cancer
i remember thinking i was ‘ok w it’
everyone i knew was freaking out about the coronavirus
my mom drove all the way from florida to ohio and then turned around and drove back
i didn’t get it
i felt ok w dying
not, like, suicidal
not like i gave a shit what ppl thought of me
(if i ever start caring what anyone in the literary community thinks of me,
someone please shoot me)
more like i’m really fucking tired and I’m not scared of dying
path of least resistance


but i didn’t have cancer
or if i do they haven’t found it yet
i just had a really bad UTI that somehow evaded the greasy-haired doctor
at urgent care
and yeast
i always always have yeast


i’d been in the ER seven hours
and hadn’t eaten a thing
the young cute nurse went and got me a turkey sandwich
all the female nurses were young and cute
i’m sorry if that’s a stereotype
sometimes stereotypes are true
she was young and cute and handed me my turkey sandwich
with my pills on the side like a movie w winona ryder and angelina jolie
and i fantasized they weren’t antibiotics and antifungals
i fantasized I was a pill popper
a valley of the dolls babe


like my bf’s BM
like my bf used to be before he got on the stuff they give you
to get off the kind of pills you eat 


why am i am so boring


on the drive home –
after I gave the valet ten dollars for working a shitty job
during a pandemic –
i turned on the radio
it was turned to the classic rock station
now classic rock was everything i’d ever listened to before turning forty
all music -according to me – was classic rock
i turned on the classic rock station and got on the highway
i didn’t want to go home yet
i was still so fucking tired
but I wanted to go somewhere
i decided I’d go to mcdonald’s
even tho it was ten pm and a week night and the middle of a pandemic
Bush’s “Come Down” was playing
i’d never gave a shit about Bush one way or the other
whenever i thought of gavin rossdale I thought of gwen stefani
i thought, i wonder what plastic surgery she’s had
but now the music was moving me somehow
like all bad 90s music moves me if the time is right
if I’m driving the freeway alone at night
I was already going 90, i inched higher to 100
and then 110 and then 115
the five mph between 115 and 120 are harder
my body started shaking w adrenaline
i was so boring


i don’t wanna come back down from this cloud


i kept going – i was ok w getting cancer or covid19
i was ok w crashing as long as that was it
i didn’t want to live in a wheelchair
i didn’t want to have to have plastic surgery
i was asking a lot, i know


“this cloud, this cloud, this cloud,
this cloud, this cloud, this cloud,
this cloud, this cloud, this cloud


i was texting all that – all the this clouds – into my phone notes
while i was driving 115mph
getting ready to drive 120
i was typing “i was ok w it” too
meaning all of it
this, that, the other …


◊ ◊ ◊


this is a poem or a tweet or an ig post


one time warren beatty was in a documentary abt Madonna

warren beatty said why would she want to live off camera? (I am paraphrasing) There’s nothing to say off camera. What would be the point? Why exist, off camera?


◊ ◊ ◊


Kanye Couch


We were sitting on my new white couch
Destiny called it a Kanye couch
My daughter said it looked like it should be in a museum


We were sitting on my Kanye couch and crying
You’d started crying first
You thought I was going to break up w you again


We got in my bed and I kept asking you politely to fuck me
It’d been three days since I went to the ER
You said you were worried abt hurting me
You fucked me but you wouldn’t cum inside me


I was still on antibiotics
It was almost xmas


When am I going to see you again? you said
We were on my  porch, smoking
The xmas lights you’d hung weeks earlier, shining


One of the first stories you ever told me
Was abt hanging out backstage at a kid rock show
And ray liotta talking to you
I forgot, now, what ray liotta said


Your BM was fucking kid rock or kid rock wanted
Her around, after, at his parties


In the summer when we met you wore wife beaters
And everyone said you looked like nicolas cage
When I showed them our pictures


the day the Kanye couch arrived
I’d gotten my hair done
The man who came to the door to deliver it said,
“I like your hair” and stared a while at my feet


I wasn’t wearing any shoes
And my toenails were painted blue
I wasn’t wearing a mask, either


You said, “of course he wanted to fuck you”
When I told you the thing he said


I lay on my Kanye couch after he left
Taking photos for you 


It felt like a museum


It was the middle of summer and I hadn’t met your son yet


I hadn’t been backstage at a kid rock concert
I hadn’t met ray liotta


There were so many things I hadn’t done




Elizabeth Ellen is a college dropout from the Midwest. Her first novel Person/a was chosen by Literary Hub as a “best work of experimental literature” in 2017. She has two new books coming out in 2021, and a previous poetry collection Elizabeth Ellen (SF/LD books). She doesn't give two shits abt punctuation, Granta, Guernica, or Ploughshares.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *