3 Poems by Elyse Runkle

These three poems are excerpts from a larger work titled “Cheers to the Death

of a Girl,” which explores the loss of innocence unique to the female experience.

Immense responsibility, premature sexualization, common traumas, body

image, and the admiration yet simultaneous rejection of femininity are explored

in an ironically celebratory eulogy to the passing of female youth.

cheers to the death of a girl

“cheers to the death of a girl”

her heartbeat slows 

as she waltzes to a funeral march

steely eyed in her satin dress


sunken gaze

skull and bones 

stares that send shivers up your spine 

a chill that won’t go away

but fades with familiarity 


a flatline over time 

a norethindrone induced sleep 

but the moon and the tides gave her nine lives 


when the bell tolls 

there is a melancholic reverence 

yet a mournful end 

to the fleeting feeling of youth 

with a side-eye and a sarcastic celebration 

raise a glass


“cheers to the death of a girl”


Lady Macbeth

my skin remembers 

where your rib tattoo

scarred me 

permanence without a needle

weaving it’s jet black hue


my skin remembers 

whiskey at 1 am 

your tapestry

cold fingers amongst body heat 

dark walls

lights out

water in perpetual drought

jean skirt 

red eyes 

a treatise of compromise 

muffled music

foreign laughter

bathroom doors ajar

stardust and plaster


my skin remembers

dreaming in a liminal space

you seeped up every square inch

if your hands were painters 

I’d be blue to this day


a learned aversion 

to solvent inks 

and pigments that yield permanence 

Out damned spot!


I may not scream, but I think


The Garden

I feel like my roots reach up and strangle me 

grounded in potted earth 

where we must thrive with no promise 

of a watering can 

and forget fertilizer 

when there is no sun 

and I know there are denser gardens to grow in

those with scavengers and runoff

downpours and sleet and snow 


when your best-cared-for garden wilts 

can’t you tell something is wrong?

and honestly I hate this fucking metaphor

because we don’t sit idly 

fruitful to be fertilized 

though we’re poked and prodded and harvested 

as if ovaries grow from seeds 

it’s not the fruit of your labor

it’s hers and mine and whoever dares to childbear


in this gated garden we call home


About the Writer:

Elyse Runkle is a writer based in Los Angeles,California. She grew up in Austin,

Texas before moving to California at eighteen where she received her bachelor’s

of fine arts in Television Writing and Production with a minor in English from

Chapman University. Her work largely explores the female experience, identity,

and mental health.

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