Four poems, by Lee Ellis

All The Way Up, To Lexington Avenue

We were walking

close enough

to hold hands,

but you’ve never been

the kind of man

to make the first move.

I just wanted to,

reach out to you,

but I’ve always

been coy

when it came

to things like this.

So, I kept my hands

in my pockets

clutching nothing,


the kind of emptiness,

that comes

from years of

self- imposed cowardice.


near riverside

we kissed goodbye

and I licked

Your spit

From my lips

all the way up

to Lexington avenue.



Finger Shushed and Lulled Asleep

Something hung between us

Like clung fingers

at the tips of a cliff

And when we kissed

a yellow hiss of hot sparks

Sprayed down both our chins

And there,

our hair and bare skin caught fire.

An understanding

rang our lover’s bones,

Moaned its way underneath our clothes

And kept

a hand clapped metronome pace.

It plunged

close to that faraway place,

I’ve come

to keep finger shushed and lulled asleep.



Industry in the Marrow

From the window,

a half cast sun

bled pink-purple

into yawning, east coast earth.

past the armory

and past the college,

the bus was a drowsy caterpillar.

On the way

The sky hiccupped into

deep winter cobalt.

The doddering thing

chugged into Kingsbridge

and up to Grand Concourse

and then past Jerome avenue.

She thought of the collegiate first years,

the time spent there,

on the BX22.

She remembers the ambitious bone,

and how there was once industry in the marrow.

Her body

was once a vibrating engine

of hot, clicking,

hissing cogs.

But her gait went to quicksand

and her muscles to milk.

Now all she can do

is choke on the exhaust.



Like Two Orphans On the Edge of A Mattress

Over your shoulder,

a shark’s tooth

of broken glass

hung in the window mouth.

The shed

was all spoiled earth

and rotting wood.

Rusted rakes and sleeping shovels

were spying children overhead.

we sucked smoke and vapor

into January lungs.

You talked

about your father,

in between pulls.

You only call him for money, you said.

You tucked your chin,

spoke toward the dirt ground.

With your eyes cast down,

you dug holes into that

sleeping winter soil.


I said,

into an iridescent cobweb

of dust and silk,

my father’s been dead

for a long time too.

And for a few seconds of silence

we sat in our fatherlessness

like two orphans

on the edge of a mattress.

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