Poetry from Ellen Hopkins

As you may have noticed from our library displays, April is National Poetry Month.  Here is a new poem from one of our favorite writers, Ellen Hopkins, writer of Crank, Glass, Impulse, Burn, Identical and Tricks.  This is from her Facebook page.  By the way, her new book, Fallout-the conclusion of Crank and Glass, is due out in September.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I really should post a little poetry here. So here is:



One hour until the northbound’s departure,
she smooths her tailored cranberry
silk, straightens the orchid
on the lapel, gentles into a time-

gnawed plastic seat. She despises
the waiting, but this is the last train
tonight and she will not frown over it;
will not toss crumbs to the crows

feet. On the empty chair across
from her, she places a hatbox,
skinned in mauve moire,
and lined with ochred satin.

Its treasure demands vigilance,
and her spectacles are in her purse.
She reaches for the mink-oiled Louis
Vuitton–dear, its price was dear,

but the fine leather will last
longer than she. As she tilts forward,
a hairpin slips from her sculpted
chignon. Swift as a deer,

a youngster scoots across
the pilloried tile. “Here.”
The waif extends a chewed-to-
the-quick hand. “You dropped this.”

She stares at the child, all sun-
tawned hide (No, she wants to say,
UV is your enemy) and stickle
brush hair and eyes two shades

bluer than heaven. Eyes, jumbled
with hope, uncertainty. Eyes that offer
up the future. And she thinks, Once
I was a girl just like her.


She sits at her mama’s feet.
The cracks in the floor look
just like little streets, and her fingers
are cars, going somewhere else.

They’re going somewhere else,
too, on a big ol’ Amtrak, silver as the minnows
in the pond behind the house.
Mama says Papa won’t miss them.

She thinks it’s a lie, but her opinion
is scrawny, worse than the legs
poking out of her shorts like meadow
saplings, temptin’ the brush hog.

A whistle blasts, three quick snorts,
one mournful goodbye. She lifts her face
to Mama, whose nose stays glued
inside the slick magazine. “Not our train.”

She revs up her finger cars again
and as they travel a winding highway,
a lady dressed in sunset, with coiled
hair the color of October wheat,

sits alone at the end of the aisle,
no company but a shiny, pink box.
The woman is older than Mama,
but nowhere near as worn, like a Sunday

best dress, kept in a cedar closet.
A pin falls to the floor, slides
across the tile, and she scurries
to retrieve it. She wants to get close

to the Sunday best lady, wants
to swim in her candied perfume.
The woman smiles a million candles
and takes measure with eyes

the color of blueberry pie. Eyes
like puzzles. Eyes that hold the weight
of yesterday. And she wonders,
Can a girl like me ever be like her?


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