Creative Study,  Issue 2,  Poetry

Creative Study: Elisabeth Horan

Artist Statement:

Sylvia Plath. Yes. Many people connect with Plath – her words are so fearless, so tragic, so knowing – she was not afraid to say the horrid things – I have always respected her in that – like, she had the courage to say in her poems, the dark monster which was in her heart -to make the poems ugly and beautiful. To make suicide ugly and beautiful. And I follow her – and I try to make the darkness I hold readable to you all – to show you the monster in me – I think Sylvia’s monster was the Bi-Polar and the PMDD – I think it screamed and howled at her every month – with her cycle – the rage would bubble up along with genius – and she would write, and be fire, and wrath and phoenix, and then crash – the guilt of mothering, the shame of loss, the anger at men – at the world. 

So, I feel these things – Sylvia came to me and we had a talk. I don’t presume to get it 100%, but I can empathize and guess – from my own massive and crushing postpartum depression, my own PMDD cycles – which cause the genius flurry of brilliant poems and fire – followed by suicidal crash, shame, guilt, self hate, and immense rage and anger at myself and the world.

So, I hope you can see in my work here – this duality – can one be a brilliant poet and a decent mum…? Can one forgive oneself for doing such harm, and survive, not succumb to the grave, but suck up the gut-eating guilt and move on? For one’s children? Or did she have no say. The demons,,, to powerful, dragged her away. And she was not present at the time.

I hold on. But it is bleak at times. I’ll never forgive myself for the words I said to my children in my darkest hours. My only slight consolation, is that I did not die, and they get to see their mother’s face in the morning, even if the terrible monster still exists inside – Mommy is here little ones,,, and she is still alive.  <3

Much love to you all. And thank you always for opening your hearts to me and my humble, broken-glass words.

By the Fridge

Nice to meet you. 
I’ve always dreamt of this.
Talking with your ghost. 
I won’t hurt you if you don’t
Destroy my manuscript – 
Blind me with your razored eyes;
Burn it all to ash, enraged at my try. 
Tell me it’s bullshit – amateurly stylistic. 

For it is of you. I am of you. 
Not you. But of your pain.

Don’t speak to me like that, small thing.
I am nothing to you, not yet. 
Your mind, shelless: a casing, spent
On strife and fret –
Your husband, good, honest, well-kempt.
What do you need which has not been given
To you yet?

A voice – one which will sell millions.
Do I have to do it your way – must I go… away, to be famous?

No, don’t assume you are so special, like me. 
My brain, the chasm which wakes the sea tremor –
I am the dark demon oil aquifer, you are
But a fable of difficulty, to crush and sweep under the rug –
That does not lend itself to one’s procurement 
In the feminist cannon –
I’m very sorry to break this to you. 

But, don’t despair. How about I help you out just a little.

Oh, my goodness. Thank you dearest Sylvia.

Heavy Woman Drown

You’ve been in the dolorous 
morning since birth, well eight, 
well it was college,

Fine, 30. Morning bells 
clang the horse
Has colicked – some fine 

Steed he was – and look 
at you woman, marching 
harmless to the

Mountain, who says 
mother may I, who 

Asked daddy permission, 
for whom does the church bell 
chime knowing children

Will to suffer.
I see in purples. Shimmering 
breathing pavement. It’s the meds 

Or anxiety. You shimmering 
is a salt lake, shallow 
brackish salinated 

Weightless water you 
so heavy arms 
caked with white granules

Caked on your face for lack 
of softer caviar, this is fish 

Eggs in the grave, my belly cut 
sturgeon style to eat 

With crisps
champagne, it’s Russian 

Tea time, rocks
succumb to 
my pockets, heavy 

Dabbing the Corners of Our Mouths Like Ladies

I secretly think I am better than you. 
I say that with the utmost
Respect which is due. 
I didn’t succumb, I held on 
For my children,
But please understand, 
I know what could have happened to me –
I know what women are capable of –

I once did an MRI
Of my brain 
For the sake of science; 
Allowed them to study my horrible misfiring
Grad students lined up with the Radiology Chair
Persistent Severe Major Depressive Disorder 
(Which Does Not Respond to Therapy or Medication)

Biome mapping; looking for lighted patterns;
Denigrated synapses, I lent them my mind
In hopes it might someday help someone else – 

For two hours I laid there with a button under my thumb
Magnets clanging in and around my skull
For a measly $100 bucks. 

Why do I do anything I do?
But, remember this – I’m still alive –

Did they study your brain? 
I mean, afterwards?
Would you have wanted them to? 
My dark is not as saturated nor brilliantly stained as yours. 

One difference I know –
I took the pills they were feeding me;
Buckets of meds and annoying weekly therapy:
Again and again, discussed the divorce, and the rape. 

A tape so old, it’s yellowed; beetle-scraped,
Like the bile in my liver, itching to spill, 
On the faces of those who abandoned me –

Did I die, like Sylvia – or did I survive, 
Like Elisabeth.


the fever is 
relentless a manly

fire it is arsenic 

I am drowning
in the gas 

I smell small people meowing
for relief—a subsequent sneeze 

like the German
salvo Churchill’s theater 

ridiculous claims of
faking from the frogs across the pond –

the torpedoes
par-snotted kill sharks eels reef fish 

not the Nazis
they are healthy – they are emoluments 

for you and them to be
taking; they work kitchens and clinics

experiment stations; take twins and give
them different medications — 

Russia waits
with the grippe in the frozen 

waste, in trenches
mother bellows 

“don’t take my child, my husband
my father” 

in the freight cars bodies like bugs
cluster flies succumbing to the heat 

of the mind
let me out of this window, Jesus Christ!!! 

shrieks and fingernails
one bottle for liquid spills, and God flees gilded

In His quilt — one
more vomit 

on the coals of my deity; she is a 
swarthy bitch, 

bold as Herr Fausto; stout as

forget-me-not-eyes seem to call her
to marry, don’t do it, Ms. Braun, there is always

In war there are only Herr Feminists 

& the Likely Isolationists
some bombs need more ghosts than others…

my trench is Lord Byron’s flat and 
flu is 1918 or 1963 

don’t you feel the prickle—of my
syringe/stun & atomic/glee?


Red-brown brain 
knows so little
about what 
destroys its
elf corrosion 
eats the ticking ge
ars, oil fod
der for burn
ing schis
ms – my blood
clot; my t
ears; I cannot hear 
the scream
ing children the
melted fac
ade the
BBC orph
ans — a depic
tion of another worl
d, another frame
dumb real
ity slough
ing brain
iron filing
s; I chortle, cough
it’s torn man
y ways
fell flat off her 
bone rolled 
six ways to mid
night — pray
er knee pin
e need
les poked in
hack hack mach
ete crimes
slat-alloy brain
goes click
i’m in training
the sweet
est drip of
acid rain — the 50s  
not all
poppied — will to suff
er. Take in the wave
s / it’s torture / i watch it
corrosive bra
in knows noth
ing but pain. Collage
n building like
fattened heads rain
ing fire esoph
ageal coll
apse is worn-out
metallurgy bridge
the mind go
es out of its
elf & out of you &
dies with hard
ly a crank or

Just To The Right Of The Stove

You are so brilliant.

That million filament line;
The gold baby, all the teeth
How do you know those words – the death, 

I’ve a call, you know… I once wrote that,

You should remember, if anything, that.
You have two boys, yes?

Two boys, yes, may I ask – 
Do you think about it –

Think about what, 
Think about the oven, of course – I mean, not Auschwitz –

The little one? she said –
Changing subjects – do you have a Ted?
She interrupts me more than I had previously considered –

Kindof, I have a Joshua – 

Does he take your words and eat them? –

No. Not yet. 

Ha, well, he will.

You will learn by watching me – if I cook the words
Out of my head there will be nothing for supper, now will there be? 

No, there won’t be. But the babies –

What of the babies! She lunges towards me –
You know that they will be better off without me – 
You said that yourself, remember, so adroitly…?

I did, I guess.
I didn’t mean it, like that –

Elisabeth, let me ask you something – 
Are you a real poet, or are you one… of them – 
Aren’t you hungry for fire, for hair, for paternal flames?
Too scared, to be like me? 
I thought so. Just a mediocre woman.

The oven is hot. Time for me to go –

I hold her by the hips and resist 
Until her trousers pull down 
And her panties scratch off 
And I scrape at her thin hips
They are so white,
So purpled with sad words

My nails are down to the quick, 
Lost talons in her paper skin
I lose a shoe, I knock out my tooth
Upon the door of the stove –

I curse the melting derma, 
Her rotting face, 
Her useless cave, 
The Luftwaffe, the Gobbledegoo;
I swear off her daddy, and mine too –

Sandy blood flowers and 
Goddamn enjambment type
Heaving insides of words, 
Crisis debtors of isolation, 
Deep pulse brain therapy, 
Two-week poems in two days as
She goes, she goes, she goes –

I hover, unsure what to do – 
I notice a pen, hanging from a string, 
Attached to a clipboard:

Take your meds, has been
Scribbled, above the grocery list, 
Just to the right of the stove.


Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is honored to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heart Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. Follow her @ehoranpoet  &

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