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Alicia Elkort: California Poets Part 4, Three Poems

Alicia Elkort

December 29th, 2021

California Poets: Part IV

Alicia Elkort

Three Poems

The Only Weight Keeping Us Here i.

We sit on Simone’s velvet couch, her words we don’t talk about that, a rebuke. I had asked about the war, how it was for her, for the French. Bringing up the war, even sixty years later, has made Simone sad. Her oldest child moved to Long Island, opened a restaurant, had a son. Her daughter in Paris, has a son. Imagine two grandsons, two countries, on opposite sides of a war. I’m eighteen & have never seen what she’s seen—bombed & mutilated bodies. I’m terrified of speaking another wrong thing & Simone remains quiet. I learn how we need each other, silent, sitting on a couch, looking out the window— a stand of pink roses, a spray of trees & rusted garden chairs, a tableau of anchors. ii. At the park with ribbons of green lawn stretching from Pico to Cloverfield, I stand by a tree watching two people on a bench nearby. I’ve loaded my canvas tote with bok choy & avocados & dried olives cured with lemon from the farmer’s market. I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but when the whiteness of the cumulous clouds against the deep blue sky takes my breath away, I have to set my heavy pack down. The woman holds her head in her hands, talks about her ex, his threats, her kid, and how her life is too god damned much. The man with his red beard & beat up backpack on the ground at his feet listens, his body thick, like an anchor. iii. Mother appears to be sleeping, such peace. I want her to get up, Come on Edy, let’s go. Everything in this funeral home is cream, cream walls, cream lights, cream carpet, cream tissues. I touch her fingers—the coldness scares me & I pull back though feel compelled to lie beside her dead body. I don’t, instead I stare at the ceiling where she’s lifted her spirit. When I feel her hand on my shoulder, I want to rise with her, but my legs turn to stone, like anchors.

Sunset in the California Desert, or the Intimacies of Mountains Lush & silently verdant, palm trunks & spikes of green over oasis grass surround me. Beyond where the kestrels fly, the mountains emerge— shifting shades of gray & purple. The imagined edges of my hips & arms release their lines. I am no body. I am everywhere. I float with ecstatic stars, am the ruined light of eternity. There are already cisterns of gratitude for such loveliness. O symmetry, O holy breath fill my bones’ marrow, this depth of longing. Tears release, but who has not stood at the edge of beauty & launched a taproot seeking rain? I have learned to locate love inside of myself, & still I am sky. The dusk rays of sun throw ochre dust across sand. Find me here, O loved one, that is my prayer.

We Want To Be Fierce

All the good girls go to hell… Billie Eilish

we want fingernails sharp as daggers

an inferno blazing from our lips—

we want to ignite the broken place within

& then

we’ll walk alone at night

on ruby-ribbed stilettos

throwing light / spitting stars

through dark-


somewhere tender

& sweet

we will stand where we stand

we will cry where we cry

we will remember to dip our fangs

into the soft meat of evil

until we’ve had our fill

Author Bio:

Alicia Elkort’s poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Black Lawrence Press, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, The Hunger Journal, Jet Fuel Review, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, as well as many others. Her poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016), A Best of the Net (2018), and the Pushcart (2017 / 2019), and she placed 3rd in the 2019 Poetry Superhighway contest. Alicia reads for Tinderbox Poetry Journal.


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