Three sketches by Lyndsey Ellis

She dreams awake, a brick
Wall with marshmallows oozing
Through the cracks, she has elephant
Memory, holds in her sneezes,
Turns down the radio to parallel park

She doesn’t trust people who smile
A lot, pays her car notes two at a time,
Can’t cook worth a damn, cuts her peas
In half to hold onto a baseball bat
Figure, keeps an RCA Colortrak with ferns
Growing out of the screen

A backwash believer
Her glasses remain almost empty
The mortuary’s her sanity
She gives her clients foreign author
Names, conjures up a hush
Life they’ve lived

She injects Dostoevsky, massages
His clots for an even fluid distribution
He’s a handsome shade of rigor mortis
The film in his eyes coo
At her, the fuzz on his chest is the icing
On their wedding cake
Their fingers find each other on the groove
Of the knife slicing into crumb mass
His hand is a wet flame, sticky
Dough-like and boyish

Well, I’m glad we’ve already exchanged ‘I do’s!

A sea of heads cluck
And bobble in laughter, she keeps
A straight face, pleased
With herself for not giving
In to her own humor
Turns her back to shield
Them both from the swollen
Envy in Merlot-coated throats

He doesn’t break face either, the lines
In his forehead are a silk sheet juiced
Up with body in their Hilton
Honeymooner’s suite

She bumps her knee against metal
A stiff splotchy arm falls and dangles
Off the cot, she crosses her legs
Disgusted at the wet and coughs
Down tears.

Lyndsey Ellis is a writer and poet, working on a full-length novel entitled Bastard Dreams.

There’s a wolf coming
Out of her neck as she curtsies
Under her mother’s foot, she rocks
When babies belch, rubs her gums to feel them
Teethe, drinks soup through a straw, pops
Her Orbit and picks her nose
You never know, after all, somebody
Could be looking

Never wears watches and loses
All of her rings, bites
Into an onion the way she would an apple,
Hums sporadically to hear herself out
Of her own head, keeps a condom
Under her pillow and a hammer
Between mattresses, one for either head
Of a close-veined sleepwalker: a.k.a
The on-and-off fling of her life

One generation away from the ‘hood’
She tip-toes out of “the hills” to “the flats,”
Crosses the street diagonally, hikes
Her rump up on her back, sticks
A diamond earring in the corner
Below her bottom lip

Hey look, I’m a bad bitch, too!

She gel-knots her hair, walks backwards
On Telegraph Avenue until the street signs are blue,
Buys a Bob Dylan greatest hits CD
With the change she got from carving
Strangers’ hairdos into the sidewalk

Hey look, I’m an artist, too!

She dabs on her face, gobbles pills
For breakfast, switches into SoMa
With one finger in the air, practices mouthing
Designers’ names and smiling out the side
Of her mouth, barhops until she falls asleep
In stalls with holes that read ‘Insert Here’
Hey look, I’m a socialite too!

A kid at heart
With gray twat hairs, the maze
In her brain is cobwebbed
With shortcuts

Baby crumbles against her sore nipple
Milk is pressed into plastic
Lips, she fumbles for the towel, turns Baby
Over her shoulder and listens for a burp
That never comes.

She’s squat with a mouthful
Of pearls, drags her feet and stands back on her legs,
The Mama hands go backwards
On her jelly hips while she surveys
A naked mannequin, squats to push around the fabric on the floor
A rainbow peeking out
The crook of her arm,
The water’s reflection in her glass
Talking at her in the wall

Dis go here, dat go there
Dis go ‘round that way
Dis on dat?

Wears things that don’t always make sense
Together and most times too big,
Laughs with her mouth closed, poops out
Last night’s wine and this morning’s coffee

Dats enough for today…

But she keeps going
‘Cuz it keeps coming
Didn’t her water near break in the middle
Of Sunday service that time?
False alarm but the canal changed position,
Had her sitting in cloudy tub water most nights
‘Til her skin was dried cabbage

Enough’s enough.

She plucks her eyelashes in her sleep
Scoops wax out her ear
With a key from a car totaled 7 years ago
And rolls her neck at herself hard
In the mirror

She only cries at the end
Of her Sula,
Eats kiwi skin and leaves
Plastic on a candle,
Envies a struggle that died at the doorstep
Of her birth

What in the devil are you handin’ at me?
I’m only a seamstress

The headless dummy winks at her
She sucks a piece of spinach
From between her teeth
She pulls out a quilt she never thought
She’d finish, the dust it sprinkles burns
Her nose, she sneezes and finds a needle.