:: Article

Picaro & other poems

By Theo Ellin Ballew.


Today yes I even slipped on my clothes with all their strange tugging and scratching. Clothes yes that once bit me picked me here, and there. I reached, out, for the spice… in the grand race to the corner store and as the sun shone through the window onto my red simmering head. The coffee would be just right.

Later those clothes were hanging shedding off their wet weight. Their weight wiped up from that thrice-spilled coffee cup, they were posed, still, on the doorknobs. They were ready to slip off all of that roundness. The floor’s dust was dissolving like sugar in that coffee seeping there and elsewhere into the wood. And me, elsewhere watching, my hair there crunching, against that wood, each strand shifting loud like sand across the next.

This room at least is open with its candles ugly and unchosen. I’ve let them burn, as they were lit. I’ve not closed this room with perfecting I’ve not made it a mirror, with full mute harshness needing dirt but blocking. A mirror, or an end, and a preemptive destroying, a mirror where the only way things go is out:

Travel Writing

Eyeballs on me like oranges in a bag and I’m a hand reaching in, the bag, all plastic and green. The oranges they are green. The bag is a net, a stringy green net, and just like my body it is bursting. Like my body, bursting, with eyeballs rolling all on me, my cells bulging against their own frontiers.
Eyeballs rolling, rolling, into sockets deep like your sex, it’s hard this life like oranges, on skin. Eyeballs are hard, rolling deep, man they’re rolling so deep, lemons are limes and just like oranges they are green. I rub ash into my cells like grey powder or like dust, I tap it up from the black bag where it’s sometimes watered into soil, it clings, like static, to my cells.

Strange fruits are newness straight up from the ground. They are newness, pure and full. And more than any full plate they induce at the tip of the very first taste, the still desire to vomit.

Limes deepen their green with ripening and oranges green like fading. I only buy sweaters that are green. What are the green things saying. And are the reds of my rashes hardening? While robed with dust, ashes, my cells sweating all through, my sweat dripping in dusty waters revealing colors I should think, while reflecting, all the same.


Suddenly slipping like something sliced it’ll be gone, this screen, against which I hang. This screen pressed across every curve and flat of me, this screen, cooling every inch. Like a slice, sudden, it will part. It will be gone and the corners of my mouth will spread, both the two corners of my mouth will open, they will rip, deep into my cheeks.

And of extremes how can we speak but through the approach. Of white, can we ever see it full. I am, something and done, I am, oh something and done, I am something, in it and done, and it’s uttered not a single word at all.

Sliced, gone, like losing the skin of my own stomach, like losing every layer of the skin of my own stomach, sliced, out, like quick shortcut vomit, or like the sudden up-tugging of a rug.
Do you ebb and flow like swallowing do you pop and spread like a tin can’s top do you meet yourself in full circle release. Years ago you asked how I had perfect teeth, and I spent years thinking about what you’d seen. My eye sockets they are peeling. My feet are bleeding from shower shoe cuts. And meanwhile here are all the sweet ways of sucked seeds on tongues slipping, here are all the ripe carrots that just like mangos are softening, and here me, having loved you, all like a dog’s tongue: out, gross, and drooling.

Theo Ellin Ballew has gone home to Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; Cincinnati, OH; Scottsdale, AZ; Tempe, AZ; Fresno, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; New Haven, CT; Cambridge, MA; Dallas, TX; Brooklyn, NY; and Denver, CO, in roughly that order. She is about to move from Mexico City to Providence, RI. She writes prose poetry, some of which she programs to move, and directs ORAL, which publishes mobile/digital literature.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, April 27th, 2018.