Ellie Phipps


I said “lol” but
What I meant is that I love you
What I meant is that gardens grow a mountain range of wildflowers
Down your spine
From your eyes
Your voice is a collection of
Every beautiful thing I’ve ever touched
Every exotic food I’ve ever tried
That made me close my eyes
Tilt my head back and sigh
I meant to say that your laugh breathes lightening in to my veins
The night sky shimmers on lakes and reminds me
That I am blessed to breathe the same air
As you with your mechanic hands and
Your decadent thoughts
Like pastries from the North End
I devoured with someone else that I loved
Awkward hands that you fumble around
Searching for the same kind of peace I find in you
I meant to tell you that
I check up on you
I worry about you
I pray you make it home safe when you work late
And the city lights are not as bright
I pray you are at home the nights your friends drink too much
And breathe false invincibility
Someone told me once that asking someone to wear their seat belt
Is a way to say “I love you”
I pray yours plays Tetris each time you get in your car
And that the one time you forget
The world carries you safely home to tangled flannel sheets anyway
When I said “lol”
What I meant is that I love you

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Porcelain palms pressed together in plain sight
Fiery fumes tempt your lips to fumble
Words were weary when I knew those before you
Cheeks rise and fall, claiming calmness
Arching slowly to ask about my absence; all these months away
I shake my head and summon my safest smile
I don’t know what to think when I think I want to know you
Between bars, books, blazing moments buzzing between us
Forgetting the way in which you’ve wandered through my mind
Nervous now, I nestle my gaze upon your neck
Never knowing why fate brought my bones to settle
In your ever-shrinking world
These days have deadlines with doors that will open and close
Or stay dead-bolted shut
Yours in the great yonder, mine staying shut in this asylum
Fate procrastinates and promises to pull you away to unseen pastures
Always mumbling “maybe” when I wonder if we will meet much more
Longingly, I linger on these lines, knowing “maybe” is my least favorite word

Why I Cry Over Dean in Gilmore Girls

Everyone likes Jess or Logan but I know what it’s like to date a Dean
I used to come home and do my homework in my room, waiting for you to call
You never let me sit at home on Friday nights
Dean isn’t that kind of guy
And yes, he is jealous and gets angry, but I know it comes from years of hurt he felt at home
Some people can’t understand that when they are pining for
The well-read bad boy

Even so, Dean was patient and kind, a solid ground to stand on
He never really understood the references, but he appreciated that she did
You always let my passionate rants run wild, even when they made you want to crash your head in to walls
You never asked me to shut up
Okay sometimes you asked me to shut up
But six in the morning is a really bad time to bring up the Romanov family issues
I never really thanked you for your ever-steady patience
Because our end was like a train pulling out of the station
Chugging slowly until it was so fast we forgot to catch our breath
The trees flew by at lightening speed, and everything became a blur to me

In tiny little towns it’s best to stay friends
Because you will run into each other
At school, at the diner, in the market
I watch Dean eating pastries with Rory
And I see us in Mia’s Kitchen
Chatting over coffee and breakfast
Our own Luke’s Diner
Right at the top of campus, to the left
No I am not a Yale student running in to your arms
But like Rory, my grades are slipping
And I am forgetting how to be me
Because when we broke ourselves apart, the side of me that was fused to what I thought would always be my other half
Stopped working
And I never really regained function
I’m still having trouble just moving my limbs into place each morning

A few months back we kissed in the couch in the back of my car
No, you are not married to Lindsay
No one is at home cooking your favorite dish
But our lips still felt false and familiar all at once
I understood why Dean and Rory tried again,
And I understood why it could never work
Potted plants out grow their home, just as we outgrew ours
Our roots and limbs mangled themselves against ceramic walls
We had to break free of them
I know that now
I still think of it as warm and cozy, a safe place to run
But you’ll meet someone someday and marry her
And I can already say, without hesitation
She’s the luckiest girl in the world

Looking For You

I’ve never used a dating site so I can’t tell you exactly what those initial questions look like
But I can only imagine they gain the story in fractions and fragments
Like the way I only gained parts of you
When you log in do they ask if your laugh sounds like a Saturday morning lawn mower I only barely remember from childhood
Tucked somewhere between asleep and awake
Do your pants tend to slip down and reveal briefs a size too big crumpled up and stained pink from your sisters first Victoria’s Secret purchase that is burned in your mind despite countless hours spent willing yourself to forget she’s not three years old anymore
Climbing on counters and cabinets, spilling drinks on your mothers new kitchen floors
Do you wake up, roll over, and pull on a half clean black t shirt that smells so good against your skin that your first girlfriend sighed each time her head met your shoulders
Do you try to drown the same girls blonde hair out with chocolate lab brunettes that give more than they take from you
Because you’re scared to give any more parts of you up for the cause you so desperately seek
When they ask about your favorite holiday do they leave a section for you to explain that Halloween used to be the best day of the year but you lost something between 6 and twenty three and you haven’t quite found it yet
But you’re searching and you’re sure it’s out there
Between red stained lips and cigarettes crushed in grief stricken pavement
When you see new eyes do you fold yourself in to them the way your mother taught you to mix your sugar in to cake
Or do you scuffle by, hunch your shoulders, and sing a song to yourself in off key notes and out of tune strums
When they ask you these questions do they leave a little section for a footnote that says
I’m really only here to forget someone else
Or do they let you believe your own stories


“I’m twenty three years old and I’m afraid of the dark. I know, don’t laugh. I’m terrified of it. I suppose I wasn’t born with this uneasiness, but then at some point shadows became monsters, and anxiety slithered in. I stayed afraid until I was six, and then I wasn’t for a long time. I knew the exact layout of everything in my room. The creature in the corner became a chair with a sweatshirt thrown on it; the crawler on the floor was just the moonlight casting shadows through my window. Then when I was thirteen, something happened that was almost too real to be a dream, and I was terrified again. Like a switch strobing off and on, off and on, and getting stuck on forever. I can only assume it will never switch back off. Now, when I get out of my car on a dark street, my throat clenches shut and I forget how to breathe. I grip my keys in my hand and try to run but make it seem like I’m walking. I don’t want people to think I’m silly. Usually my boyfriend asks what I’m doing and laughs affectionately. He doesn’t know. I doubt I’ll ever tell him. If I did, I’d have to think that it wasn’t a dream, and I don’t think I could fool myself like that. I usually make it safely to some brilliantly lit building with my chest heaving to catch up on the breaths I didn’t take. People laugh in symphonies all around me but it just becomes a faint buzzing hummingbird for a minute because there’s a shadow of a baseball cap in the room. Living in the bitter northeast, it’s impossible to go anywhere without encountering a menacing, flat-brimmed, Red Sox hat. I flash to it on a stranger’s head from an inky night long ago, and like clockwork, my throat tightens again. My eyes blend my surroundings until the only thing I can make out is my enemy. The world tilts violently and I feel horizontal, even though really I’m just frozen in stillness while the room whirs around me. I try so hard to blink the cap away, but it’s there sizing me up like a Great Horned Owl in the wild night. It zeroes in on its prey. My best friend Amanda once told me that they can apply 800 pounds of pressure per square inch, which could crush your bones instantly. That’s how seeing the cap feels, like I’m about to have my foundation shattered. Its eyes widen, focusing on me, and suddenly I am surrounded by every leering shadow from some decade-old night. Dizziness settles in my weakening bones and I feel like I might faint. But then my boyfriend nudges me, waking me from my nightmare. He laughs about how weird I get in the dark. I tell him yeah, I do, it’s so funny. I put on my mask and pretend I have no idea why. Then all is forgotten because it does not need to be remembered. The tilt comes upright and the faces and voices come in to comforting clarity. I’ve lost sight of the Red Sox cap. It doesn’t matter anyway because I’m not even really sure it was there. Maybe I just dreamed it.”


Are my thoughts just dirt you sift through
Searching for some inkling of gold
You think you see it in shy smiles
That I intended
For someone else
Maybe the goggles they gave you
Have a defect
Like the fragments of your words
Spilling out on the table
Is every part of you hollow
Or just your eyes
And the heart that beats behind them
Reminding me my life means nothing
If I am not full of gold


You’re probably just
Having a bad day
He says
No traces of light
Left in his eyes
You’re right
I say
Not telling him
If he had come around
He’d notice the days turned to months
Sheets off the corners of my bed
That have been there for
Dirty clothes
Make mountains between
Me and the door
My own walls I put up
To keep myself in
My laugh is so heavy
But he cannot hear it
To him it is just another laugh
Cutting through the mist
On a Friday morning
No love left
When life was so full of it
Moments ago
Just another shard of truth
That makes endless sleep
Seem the only way out
Of my valley

Good Enough

I need sleep
I say in fractions
On the edge of your bed
Is it Friday or Wednesday
Was your hair always this frazzled
I need to be left alone
In your arms
Or drowning in a lake
I created
You pushed me too far
Are the words on your lips
When you tell me
I am everything
Except beautiful
And that makes me nothing


I like the way you
Are not afraid of my
Quirks and quandaries
You think my
Eyes glimmer
With something beautiful
Maybe hope
Maybe happiness
But do you think in
Philosophical vortexes
Does your laugh come out
In breaths
That take mine away
When you dance does
Your smile swallow
You whole
Without caring who
Is noticing your
Traces of sadness
I have lived inside his prison
For what feels like
But when you swing open
The creaking gates
I find
This cold dark place
Feels too much
Like home

Zee (Or Someone Like Him)

Your skin the color of smooth edges of cabinets I couldn’t reach
In a ski house I only vaguely remember from childhood
You have more stories in your face
Than the fingerprints splattered across the handles and doors
I count each one
In awe of you
I found God between your lips and your finger tips
On a muggy August evening
Bugs marching towards their death
Beneath the glow of cheap lighting
He never told me your purpose in my world
Only that I would be changed forever
In quiet conversations I’d forget later
I poured over signs and symbols
Until they jumbled into oblivion
None of it matters as long as I got the chance to know you
As you are
Flaws ready for a fight
Perfections pressed against the back of your neck
Where my fingers could never quite reach
Eyes traveling to lands only to be conquered behind your lids
My world is susceptible to unresolved feelings
I am blessed to even know your name

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