Portia Elan

Settle For A Slowdown

for Suzi

This road I’m running makes it easy to feel like a fool
tamarack. It moves me tamarack.
The fool has her uses.

Yellow brick yellow brick every mirror is my rearview
of the self before the light revealed me. tamarack I revel
in it. Look at the fool rattle

her bone, her book, her
lone song ugly
in the throat.

When you laugh, tamarack, you make a mean weasel
even when you add “with love.” The day is, night is,
all more mild than you asked and we take the right fork;

it’s a guess; won’t know if it pays off for miles.
Call out tamarack: Marco me Marco me; the fool can’t see.
Moonlight turns the desert dust to snow in the mind’s eye
while we guide her to the mountains.

I’ve been letting my nails grow out
but that’s only because you ain’t been here.
O turn, turn your whale of self, whiling my life,

I’ll whittle you tamarack.
Look for the apology ahead but not yet.
All this yet.

Form means body, form of you, form of me.
Your tongue is a body for me.
Completion is the ordinary, every day task
of not swallowing that body.

Someone has named me missed, missing,
but I am right here in the costume of the fool.
Look behind you now tamarack: a kiss. Pardon me.

This erases not guilt but shame.

The fool, she has no fear: I’m lacking
this lacking and it slows me down.
tamarack it slows me down. Should I worry?

This slap-beat pulse goes on; it makes the mind
a floating thing on still water; it is loyal as Hollywood;
it calls for the singing fool to come.

And in time, tamarack, the last stung mountain bends
and where will you turn, where will you be?
The road ahead is no yellow brick yellow brick;

more like lovers’ heads, more like give all,
more like a pivot: yet. Come on tap those brakes baby.
tamarack, won’t you take my bet, won’t you make the time,

delay the light. It’s day now, we came through the night.
Fear turns me around but the fool stays facing forward
and she won’t slow down, tamarack you both don’t slow down

and my heart doesn’t slow down: there’s no end, no end.


Portia Elan lives and teaches in the East Bay with her Gemini cat. Her work has appeared in Sonora Review, Ninth Letter, Birdfeast, Thrush, and other journals. Her chapbooks are forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press and Mindmade Books. This particular poem would not have been possible without Dierks Bentley.