Ellen Boyette


An asterisk was once a stigma, now
             a bright misnomer. Now,

a prayer alone reveals the two-tone desert.
             Glows green and goes.

Sand, sky. Sand, sky.

And then the two are one.

And then again they aren’t. What will

never not go down just so? I mean
               to sleep. I mean the click

of the craned lamp’s neck alone
                can turn the room on head and I 

return the bed through body as I never
                leave what cannot be stolen.

Now, an airstrike of dreaming. What
              viscera, these bombs from which

to take out     Well what was it
      nothing. This

is not a choreography
               of ‘the point’ in one’s mouth like a song.

In a compressed chest it
                  rises, goes up, a flashbulb,

when one wakes in stasis. I wake

in stasis, in weird
                serenity, a pullover partially

over my face, to baritone sustained
                drone, a portable fan over

which to mull  the asterisks
                return to name

blank failures
                                            Leave me

                with the sense

that I am slipping

              from something important

in all the idiot tasks

                                        that must be nursed

at the breast of my handling.

This is no rare curse.

Where is the landowner to my vision
                  of land? Where

to put my hand.
                In what pool. I am here

where the radio news is an arabesque
                of terminology, a plume

of carabiners
                hooking, to the splintered
                helm of my dreams, me. It takes,
                where my feet pretend

ascension, and strikes still mean nothing,

Could this light
be called lighting? How can you know

when you’re in that dream
where you go through half your life?


Could be a bull backing slowly into black—burnt back of a wet palm, nightstand checkpoint,

touched with dark. Could be zero-birthed--unprimed,

    not swimming

         -- swum. Dust.

        The idea of night

almost pornographic here. Touch it—backlight pool-- with your mind’s eye, there-- see

--it touches back. Caress, caress. Tete-a-tete. Economy of lust-- reciprocity of receipt

fraud-in-scrawl possibility.

                                                    Framed threat remains always a stake lower than what.

Cardiac prodding surges up the throat like a caged animal hurls itself against its bars. Fact: 


  Left to the skin,

       the skin reclaims itself

       from tissue,

the neurological non-matter like a sash to the breeze.

      Ash bull rides the beige frame

like a verb the sentence—nameless-- a halogenic

element in cartographic fade--cut

of appaloosa mane—interface

then translate: enter, face. It’s brow furl. It’s sartorial play. Cut teeth grinding, prehistoric calves

scavenging through thistle for whatever is not

hunger-- no

thistle now-- only thunder

in the heliotrope. Only papyrus lain over all but the doors you’ve already gone through.

Only rainless, only

strokeless, only

tactical—the left

-right reading of dust where one might first blink a slim percentage-- the quick and unobtrusive

gesture: graph. Graph: work is only the resistance of leisure. Graph: leisure is only the resistance

of the body. Oppose the brick, the horizon, oppose the frame, the finger’s edges, the font. Pose

between. Graph: one can only

trample a handful

of seconds before

line work merges, emerges as tusk. Quiet, now, dusk refuses canvas. False air, it’s a coat, a varnish

—but only if you comply,  are pliable, first without breath, then out with it. In our rogue  

tendons, we

close in, now,

are close cold

                      water coming

on with the stillness of a magnet. Pushing out from half state into doxologous form, or from it—a

pointillist river-- a handful of atoms opting solely for blur.


Biographical Statement

Ellen Boyette received her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Alberta Kelley Fellow and Teaching-Writing Fellow. Her first book of poems, BEDIEVAL, was a finalist for the Slope Editions 2019 Book Prize judged by Solmaz Sharif as well as the CSU 2021 Lighthouse Series Book Prize judged by Shane McCrae. Her work can be found at jubilat, Prelude, poets.org, The Columbia Review, Bennington Review, and elsewhere.