March 9, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Alejandro Alvarez photo



Elena Botts




the deeper issue here is there are no deeper issues



still, her shoulder blades were cracked.

i’m sorry about the digital excuses and also how i seem to suck oxygen out of the air no matter

what i do like a hot shower in the wintertime your face was placed against the glass.

your face was not pressed against the glass. i am going to the new earth which is full of white rooms.

i am a bald child in a gurney i say look at these deadening scars roped thick about my spine and how

the bones are nothing more than ache and and the nurses say no there is nothing here no injury,

you are as pure as the day you were born though your heart beats slow and the doctors run wild

and the outside world in terrific sun shines in until the building walls are fewer and fewer

as we fall into ourselves, we reach i’m sorry, the light?

and upon leaving the white rooms, there is a world where no body watches from every window this is

all a metaphor for the way you fail to sleep at night or the way that you do, in fact, sleep at night,

every night, deep, deep sleep all through the lamplit hours until the sky turns green and you drop

from your head to the ceiling and onto the mattress

you while away the time tracing those damaged walls with your mind

your breath like the ocean and all that your mind is cracked, i love it,

how the light seeps in especially when you shiver but you do that less these days, these days you make

your own stew and listen, really listen to the world because it’s talking the trees and houses and

people are all speaking and this is a new language that you want to understand

this is the best music we will ever hear

for a moment there, in your basement, i thought i might like to be known.

i had a dream that i acquired a motorcycle and freedom was racing the wind around and around

but soon i was tired of the sky’s burden and in the next dream, or perhaps,

the next life i couldn’t see and i was blind to all the things i do to myself. i do not know where this

blood comes from. bodies are so quiet when you sit them down but still

in every pale motion echo our ghostly selves

and sleep through the days in a billowing haze of cloud but above all i was not unknown

to myself which is like when the statue of jesus outside the church

had shadowed eyes and said be kind to all this earth

and i knew it and he knew it and we all knew that this place wasn’t a place except for how we

made it so and i had a heart of gold but kept losing it in the muttering of the vacant nebulous soul

though i couldn’t forget how i once ran to the edge of the earth and yes, entered the next world

and there you were, there was the beautiful so i ran as far as i could away to a place where i might be

alone and knee deep in the sea i was myself vanquished, i slipped away into the tide, no burnings here,

no silent lies, just the undoings of a quiet soul, to know that universe in me, made of love and unmade

of love, i was glad.





every day i learn again this awe of waking into a most beautiful earth



in forgetting, we enter a world of beauty.

everything was in roses,

a reflected sky forgotten, slivered into dull sheets of ice. the lone moon heralding

the dawn. and the way the river sighed at its banks,

all of the contours caressed, the mountains trembling

back into color in newfound daylight.

i haven’t been thinking of you

so much lately but we are all made of something, the

universe risen up like a prayer out of the dark and every single day








i severed my spleen between

some winter trees, it was something about how they

seized the sky between their branches,

it broke me. blood drops on this white canvas

like a cardinal flying nowhere to nowhere,

it is easy, i have no eyes, these too

will be gone, my lungs vanquished by the mountains,

those dim sentries in their grey chorus

up into the sky. slowly we all learn to breathe out again,

to take in the whole landscape

and then. my veins always knew they were fleeting

pathways the in and out.

but it was when i came upon the others

bodies in the snow unkissed, the useless feeling

they are immaculate,

it was a beautiful morning, i wish i could convince you of it,

i came apart.

now that there is no one around i can bury the corpse,

we will not need to dress her in warm clothes

she will lay silent and unbreathing in the snow.

except that organ i have pried

from my chest as slowly it begins to snow.

you did not understand these burials,

and yet you are here as much as

any other object, shadows

bend in dull proof of radiance

i cannot forget,

and that is why i fall back into the earth,

a heart given to the universe.





it was strange going somewhere and knowing that behind us lay the memory



like a field of meadowgrass in a great wind

in a setting sun pyre,

the light all burning into

oh you traced the backbone of the mountainside shivering as the blue was like no color we had known

until then and in the stars you wrote us,

because you, and i, we knew the universe. yes, the moon comes out. we are frozen in the afterglow.

i left my window open and the little tree. i saw that i wasn’t meant to be. i leapt into the bay

and came out, dripping.

the water was warm in february, toxic, the ice sheets had a mind

to split the reflected sky. it meant nothing when that boy and i

lay upon the tracks, waiting to die. but i meant no harm

so i got up and left.

the stars all forgotten.








in the midst of the city only a fog that i held lightly in my hands as i walked, i thought of you


admittedly, this was the only thing in the sky that night, a vague moon i wondered if i could pull it from

the all that is blue but it would not go


stuck as a star i might wait to explode. there is no good in this old light. i am happy to know that even

the landscape is in unremitting heartache. the broken winter birds become my metaphor though

indeed they are not. and thank god for this river where the spirits ebb and flow and the ghost men

wade in their midnight raids and the chorus of a songbird in the late hour reminds me

there are greater things beyond the sound of haunting the auspices


of a quiet mind.


the stars made me up. no one walking in the dark. i felt my soul the vanishing light tread lightly upon

the crescent of the moon. sometimes i think of how you said forever,


how there was in your everything, love.

the streets were solid there it was a direction in which i missed you like a river flowing from its source

but not needing a sea to lapse its body into the city was a creature and we were swallowed whole

and when i missed you it meant little more than the world and every bridge led to a different

of being and we spoke nothing from rise to set but the moon and this was a vacant syllable

as was the words i love you it did not matter anymore except to remind our little corpses of the memory of the universe dredged from

of the memory of the universe dredged from the river the memory of it in ourselves everything

all that remains is how you remember and in my heart, i remembered








someone left the hot water on too long. sometimes in the world it grows quiet but never so much as in

my soul. there was nothing to become. you were and so was i. in the city of pigeons under the bridges

the photographers are drenched in the wet and spray eyeing the under of brooklyn. i was in a fog

after that first morning, watching the quiet sky blue and green and you were cold, the blanket barely

about you so i tucked it in, ready to not speak to you for most of this new year your eyes are

a sleep of a kind and turn different colors in the light the way you move is a message written

to god and there are brief eclipsing letters all about your form and face the stories of how you

decimated yourself and in surrender, rose up your eyes had closed over upon my lap and i moved

gently away as though in the gaze of death but there was something beautiful about us that i could not say and in the cold morning i left.







Elena Botts

Elena Botts is a senior at Bard College, where she is majoring in Global & International Studies with a concentration in Mind, Brain, & Behavior. Since she graduated from high school in 2014, Elena interned and worked for local nonprofits and political campaigns, including for local officials in the school board and state legislatures. In 2015, she interned at Lawyers for Human Rights, where she did policy research and directly assisted refugees. Elena is a visual artist and poet and wants to explore how the psyche can influence society. She has been published in dozens of literary magazines, exhibited in local galleries, and published three poetry books.

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