Saturday, May 28, 2011

Banging On The Walls Of Mortality

Sue McElligott

—Sue McElligott, Nevada City

Way past her passiveness in lacey underwear
she sways to a melody she remembers
hearing a few days ago

With the room lit up by moonlight
she crawls under the covers
and falls into a light dream
about old houses and
cob webs of memories
impossible to decipher
once she opens her eyes

It all made sense while sleeping

Standing in the shower
she tries to remember if she
was ever really dreaming
or just recalling a memory

But the water washes away all signs
that she was ever in bed at all

Taking a comb to her hair
she feels the tangles that had
woven into her sleep
and smooths them out
slowly and methodically
as though each strand
knows a secret
that only the nighttime
can give back to her

It never makes sense when she’s awake


Northern California has some mother/daughter teams of poets and artists who are both excellent in their own rights; recently we've been posting work from Joyce Odam and her daughter, Robin Gale Odam, poet and photographer. Today we feature Sue McElligott, a poet and artist who lives in Nevada City. Sue had her first poem published in Pearl Magazine at the age of 8. She enjoys music, art and dance, and has had one of her paintings used on the cover of Ann Menebroker’s poetry chapbook, Small Crimes, which was published by Rattlesnake Press in 2008 (see below). Thanks for stopping by the Kitchen, Sue!


—Sue McElligott

The diary lay still
as the night became stirred
whistling those last notes
of some worn out song
made from old pages that
couldn't be sung anymore

Hung up
Tears run down a ticking clock
stranding water in a hole dug
up a lifetime ago
where nuts and bolts
don't put things together
like they used to
and chimes don't seem
to sound the same at night

The breeze gently blows
the bottle across the street
sending waves of ringing
in the ears of those
who are deaf to the silence
of shattered glass
and broken feet.


—Sue McElligott

In the time it took
to pull a petal off a purple flower,
life looked different from the inside;
While standing shadows addressed
all that was familiar,
something woke up the volcano
purring in the chest walls
of an anecdotal time
when songs sounded more like
stories and words crept in
after the fact; and the dawdling of
young children playing
began a feast of innocence
and a deafening laughter
that all felt too far away.

Banging on the walls of
mortality and the time that was
creeping away, a ghost within the crevices
whispered Its way through
passing thoughts and fears
of change, borrowing empty magnets
left behind on a wall
carefully placed in a treasure chest
of "hope-so's" and "maybe's"
feeding an aching
mind for too long.
Purple petals fell down
covering all paths
leading to a village of misfits
and socially unacceptable mimes
only trying to get their dreams out
without sounding crazy
while watching purple petals
fall like silent rain.


—Sue McElligott

The scene played out in her head over and over again
and for too many days she wondered how she could
manage this stage and Its actors running her life over
and over again.

Backstage, she watched as the actors in her head moved
from one place to another; never actually going anywhere
Like catching the same fish and throwing it back time
and time again only for it to grab hold of that same hook once more

Steadily, she finally moved the motion of that scene and took it in
willingly and fully without remorse, and began to dance her way
from thought to thought, song to song, whisper to whisper
until she caught that light from the corner of her mind
saying, ‘don’t fight me.’

Letting go, letting be; the road seemed passable now.
She walks it slowly, but not so cautiously
Weaving in and out of the narrowing paths
Grabbing on to all there is to feel
even when it seems too colorful
for her comfort.

Staring down upon the beating heart
that continues to beat
she breathes out the final truth
and smiles.


—Today's LittleNip: 

Art is a shutting in in order to shut out. Art is a ritualistic binding of the perpetual motion machine that is nature. ...Art is spellbinding. Art fixes the audience in its seat, stops the feet before a painting, fixes a book in the hand. Contemplation is a magic act.

—Camille Paglia



Cover art by Sue McElligott for
Annie Menebroker's book, Small Crimes, 2008