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ellan ruth

three selections from "drought"


drought (n): writer’s block, a broken relationship, debt, the void of time, cracks on lips and dark piss, acres of flame screaming the cloudless sky, sighs.


to transition is to die. to shuffle your hand, all pointed and heavy with spades and raw, rough-hewn clubs, back into the deck. to try a new deal, process erasing self establishing perspective, a new history, a new interpretation.


drought (n): paralysis caused by fear. stunted growth. self-doubt. waiting and waiting and waiting for clarity


in the shuffle you still your mind, the time between allowing for a dropping away, a focus, a preparation to experience anew. the world does not exist until we speak it. light was created with a name. and when i named myself, we were all as surprised as the illumination of a sunless sky.


drought (n/v): disconnection from nature. doubting one’s intuition, not refilling one’s well with the juiciness that is your giving, your confidence, and your inspiration to create


i started getting my period when i was thirteen or fourteen. the cramps were unbearable, and i spent the majority of highschool with sometimes-monthly emergency overnights in the rubbing alcohol and plastic air of holy spirit hospital, full of needs and dyes and slid/stuffed into large grey magnets that clicked, groaned, and whirred around me, probing for some physical explanation for the binding, searing pressure whipping through my lower abdomen, the electricity where ovaries might have been. “stress,” the final conclusion with a shrug. only the new school nurse saw me: no, you cannot go home, i get the same every month and come to work. lie down for an hour and take this aleve.


drought (v): bottoming out and taking that experience to recenter the soul. through loss, gain


in the end, we must read our cards, we must put words to the arrangement of ourselves, and in naming them, we become real.


drought (v): the space in which a change, a rearrangement, or a foundational shift occurs, resulting in the assertion of said transition in the face of a fundamentally violent and hostile world. (eg: through drought-crackling lips screams the flaming bowl of sky: i am becoming that i am becoming)


when i would wear dresses, or skirts, or whatever dusty clothing i could grab from the women’s section at the salvation army. in highschool people would ask if i was gay. “well, i like girls not boys” a shrug.







in between there is a waste. arid breath and cracked lips, heaving. there is a thirst water cannot quench. a reach beyond where we connect. a gap between each work. if words create the world, i could story a paradise. i could remember how to speak. or, however, perhaps it is in forgetting the story that ceases. to remember or forget, to learn or cast aside, and if in our striving we forget to remember, were we ever there in the first place, or diffuse all along.




yhwh, the ineffable name of god, is taken from the deity’s response to moses at the bush, alight with the fire of the infinite. “who are you?” “i become that i am becoming (eyeh asher eyeh)” the full completeness of infinite change from the smallest piece to the greatest whole. when asked by the hebrews “what did you see?” moses replied “he becomes that he is becoming (yaweh asher yaweh):” yhwh. the truth in reality is unspeakable, threads trailing frayed hems in pale grass, and therefore cannot be named, pronounced, only pointed to. to experience the completeness of totality, we must experience the unknowable. the only real truth is fundamentally unknowable, that is to say, unnameable.




like startled, peering in the dark, foggy and electric, for a half-forgotten sound.





i had no internal picture of myself until i named myself, body hidden in oversized sweaters and facial hair.




god i’m thirsty  //  i cup you to my mouth

though  //  like  through  the  fingers  flows

out // again and // and again and // and //

and //  parts of you  // pressed against my

cheek  //  in  the  whispering  night  //  the

ghost  of  a  memory  or  //  i  dreamed  of












 i   dreamed    of    water:   swimming   and

breathing,   drink  //  i  dreamed  of   your:

dripping down my parched throat, soft on

my chest, my shoulders  //  i dreamed  of

fingers:  grasping  tangled   hair,   matted

against, pillow  //   i dreamed of whispers:

hot  and  damp,  i wish i could remember

what you said














you brush past me and suddenly i am. my arm and elbow pits alight

ellan ruth is a poet and musician based in Oakland. you can find her work in dirt child, coffee people zine, and the forthcoming (before we know it, we were already dead). listen to her music at, and read poorly-drafted tweets @ellanruth.

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