Basement Mother

You married such a sick woman
do you regret it now?
The way I’ve tortured us for years
the way I burned the house down –

I made the children, I made the beds
left in disarray; tatters, unstable teens
haunt me like a rotting womb
the bodies I grew in it, now untombed

Released from me, into the light
I seethed and hissed retreated back
down the stairs to my dungeon
dragging a stained placenta

Survived on it’s nutrients, for years
in chains, with rats, eating shit
my own eyes, yellow slits, my
vagina locked, breasts defiled

Basement mother breathes only
once in a while. Basement mother
stays below so their friends won’t
know of her. Husband will forget in time.
Children must move on to survive.

The rattling of her saber at night
the dry wheezing TB lungs
eerie, yet palatable, when compared
to her face, at the table, in the light.


My Christian Dream

 When I think about divorce, I see
my father’s face.

I squint dumb;
I’m eight years old again.

I hold out a finger for a hula hoop ring
he could marry me if
he will not my mother

I could wear yellow
like gingham wall pajamas –
paper he pasted my cell with, moldy
bandages, wainscoting tourniquet.

Church is not as fun anymore
since it’s me walking
down the aisle toward him,
and he is
giving me away
to an adulthood
in which
I drink like a fish

To gut the sorrow, and
my mother flies above,
dragon mouth spits out:
how dare you Richard… Throws keys out

Of a raised ranch window.
Rotting ELL alcove.
Preachers mouth swallows itself.

First fork tongue
then both testaments
makes a paste of the psalm pages
paper machetes for wombs bellies.

Takes lips in vain till gilt red
slits a throat just below it’s purple head.

In his gut a horn-ed devil
empty sockets taunting
A belly looking for its eyeballs; wants
to see the child bride whose married to her

Who blew out nine candles
knowing she dared not move
nor achoo.

Some rings can tarnish young skin too.
Daddy, I have to let go of you.


poetry seflie 5


Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Her collaborative nature and feminism chapbook “On This Path We Travel”, is published at Moonchild Magazine. Her column Arsenic Hour is live at TERSE. Journal. @ehoranpoet