Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor

Ellen Webre: Three Poems

The Budding Boy

After the painting “Budding Boy” by Julie Heffernan

White limbed and long, a scattering of bones and moonlight               
          twined with sinew and red hair.

He stands barefoot, naked as the tree he has grown from,                     
          holds the bounty he has gathered

to his stomach: peaches, pomegranates, blackberries, and bird skulls,                      
          these eggshells of what he is made of.

I find him outside my window after a night of uprooted sheets.
          He looks back like a cherry blossom

floating away on a river of mercury. Oh, he is the salt and rice of me,               
          my sighs by honeyed candleburn,

an apple that calls with the hiss of a snake, coaxes a meeting                     
          of tongue and lips like prayers.

His fingers dig into the branches, searching for steadiness, waiting
          for my mouth to swallow

the whole of him, the nectar of his blooming, white petals                     
          in their unraveling.


Don’t Look Down

You head toward a life you won’t be living.
Kim Hyesoon

The hand in your hand is already a ghost.

What you don’t know keeps you running
on air after the cliff gives way.

Confession: there is no truth that will keep
you and your joy in the same sky.

The ghost in your hand is flickering,
begging, drowning. Do you know?

Your joy is crying, is overwhelmed.
Your joy is taking off his face.

Don’t look down.

He is still behind you. But you do not see him.
He is waving goodbye. But you do not turn.

You hold your hands and head toward a life
you won’t be living because all you believe in

is the indigo night of a future
you will never get to hold. Because

your muscles are made of prayer,
and gravity knows your worth.


Red Cento

After Alyssa Matuchniak

summer apples fat-bellied, by the metal
scent of my blood, the silk nipples dark
red, swollen sugar rubies, dotted cherry,
browning end of harvest: reminder, of
red-paling blossom, deepening your rich
red linen lies, your crimson ritual of
purity, cleansed in lipstick like blood,
shiny and ruby dark, flicker of garnet on
Persephone’s teeth


book cover for A BURNING LAKE OF PAPER SUNS by Ellen Webre

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