From the Archive: The Rumpus Inaugural Poems: Eve L. Ewing


This was originally published at The Rumpus on January 15, 2017.


Each day from January 7 to January 20, Rumpus Original Poems will feature poetry written in response to the coming presidential inauguration. Today’s poems are from Eve L. Ewing.


horror movie pitch

okay you guys are gonna love it. get this

all the black women turn invisible,
all of them

just overnight. America goes to sleep and they’re there
and they wake up and they’re not

the scary part? ______stick with me
they’re not gone. YOU JUST CAN’T SEE EM
_____think about it
_____they can see each other
_____but you can’t see them
_____and they could be anywhere

the girl you passed up for the promotion
she could be in your car
ready to yank your head back by your hair
right when you’re at a busy intersection

the woman you grabbed on the subway escalator
she could be in your living room
looking through your tax returns

the group of friends you whistled at
might take turns whistling back at you from hidden places
shrill, and off-key, until you go mad

the one you prodded and whispered about
she might be lurking in the men’s room
with a sharp letter opener and a roll of duct tape

the girl you lied on again and again
might be on the back porch where you smoke
and she’s dousing your cigarettes in lighter fluid

all the ones whose hair you touched
all the ones whose names you mocked
all the ones whose pay you cut
the ones whose houses
the ones whose jobs
the ones whose babies
the ones who
the ones who
the ones

they could be anywhere with knives
or guns or poison or machetes or
things they have to say to you about you
and you have to listen

i mean let’s be real maybe they would just leave
go somewhere warm and secret, string up Christmas lights,
raise goats and chickens, grow zucchini and fire up the grill,
make every night for cards and barbecue, let their hair grow
or cut it all off, let themselves get fat
or skinny, talk about things
that are not you

but then again
maybe they would do everything you did to them
do it more
and faster
and harder
with all the mean they learned from you.
the witless cruelty
the smirking dismissals
the rope across your wrist
all the twisted words and lucky punches

and you wouldn’t even see them coming


horror movie pitch 2

this one is even better than the last. you’ll love it.
it’s like_____ your typical Exorcist-type situation
you know
not religious, but Old Testament inspired.
like, rivers of blood.

it goes like this

the men who climbed to acclaim on our backs
digging their knees into our kidneys
dirty nails into our thighs

all of their books, films, albums,
whatever they made in this life
catches on fire.
but before it burns it bleeds.
stigmata, on paper
staining the nice office carpeting of important people
and then turning their hands to boils
when they reach out to touch the thing they once loved.

the men don’t burn, just their work.
and they watch it all happen from comfortable chairs they didn’t pay for
before the locusts come

– Eve L. Ewing


Eve L. Ewing is an essayist and poet. Her first collection, Electric Arches, is forthcoming from Haymarket Books in fall 2017. Her work has been published in many venues, including Poetry Magazine, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. She co-directs Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events, and is one-half of the writing collective Echo Hotel.

Author photograph © RJ Eldredge.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →