Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Love, Melancholy, and Darkness - Poetry by Nichole McElhaney



You wanted me to be strong so I grew claws and fangs and learned to howl. You told me I was too wild; a thing that needed to be broken, tamed. You wanted me to be strong. 
You did not want me to be stronger than you.

When I was born my mother placed a gorgon inside my chest and whispered “turn all your passions to stone and you may keep them forever, but beware: an anchor can both save and sink its vessel”.

An old wives tale says if you can’t sleep it’s because you’re in someone else’s dream. 
You must be an insomniac by now.

My heart is a dark, romantic thing stitched together from velvet and honey.

Please don’t hate me for demonizing you;
I only know how to love wicked things.

She emerges from the gloom under the protection of a blood moon, secrets etched upon her palms, spells brewing in her rosebud mouth.

Her tangles are not a halo.
Her scars are not divine scripture.
Her screams are not hymns.
Loving her does not make her holy.

You are buried here like a seed waiting patiently to burst through these hollow bones. You have always been my ruin; you have always been my rebirth.

How many times have the fates bound us by needle and thread?
I’ve lost count, but the blades of my scissors have grown quite dull.

These summer months have dissolved on my tongue like the body of a God I never chose to worship.

I am a house without ghosts and I cannot think of anything more tragic.

Be a witch they cannot burn.

The loneliness echoes within me like an incantation; a summoning of something dark and desperate.

I keep trying to uproot you; pulling at your memory until my hands bleed. You grow back in the night, blooming in the hidden chambers of my heart.

{ important questions no one asks }
What is the life span of a ghost?
Is there an expiration date on revenge?

I am more than a place for you to store your sadness.

God is a dying beast and we are all guilty of having too much blood in our mouths.

How many bridges can I burn before I choke on all the ashes?

No one ever told you that nothing blooms in blood.

In my heart - a heavy ache. On my lips - the softest spoken spells.

Tell your daughter that they were given claws for a reason and, when they are afraid, show them why the power of women has been feared by millennia.

These days I feel like a forgotten opera house:
beautiful in my decay and full of music no one can hear.

Treat me as you would a cemetery: respectfully and with the knowledge that dead things dwell here.

Now that I am free of you I am burning brighter than ever, and believe me when I say,  I will
illuminate all those things you did in the dark.
{ be afraid, be very very afraid }

Maybe my heart is a garden of thorns, a forest of dark beasts,
a cathedral of shattered glass, a graveyard of rot;
maybe my heart is a lonesome and feral thing,
but it is mine, and it is strong.

All I have left is nostalgia dressed in heartache.

Your savior will not be a soft little thing made of light with a lullaby tongue; your savior will be an archaic tapestry of blazing eyes with a banshee’s wail. Sometimes the things that save us are monstrous.

You could spend your whole life hiding from the sun, but keep in mind that the moon loves to gossip.

I have wanted. I have needed. I will not apologize for this vessel, for this heart, for this hunger.

Do not let anyone tell you that you must make a choice between your softness and your sharp edges; A wise witch knows that in order to survive you must be both petal and thorn.

Winter is here and the wind is howling your name again.


Do not worry about your contradictions - Persephone is both floral maiden and queen of death.
You, too, can be both.

It’s becoming difficult to sing your praises with your hands around my throat.
{ a caged birds song is a cry for help }

Athena’s jealously made a monster of fair Medusa.
I often wonder what beauty my own demons have destroyed.

My wild heart craves shadows. Like a bat unfurling its wings. I open myself to darkness; I open myself to truth.

Take note of the girls who run with wolves:
they know the value of their wildness.

And the moon said to me - my darling daughter, you do not have to be whole in order to shine.

I may be full of darkness but I am also full of hope, and like Pandora, you’ll find I am impossible to resist.


The past is a prison and I refuse to be captive any longer.
{ it’s time to rescue yourself, princess }

My soul is in a state of perpetual Autumn.

My body is not a temple, for temple turn to ruin and rubble.
My body is a forest of bramble and thorn and hemlock.
I will not fade; I will devour.

Not everybody will know how to handle you, but you were not made for others.
Never be afraid to be your own kind of storm.

I no longer apologize for all the parts of myself that you didn’t know how to love.

I wanted to be the sacred grove where you worshipped;
what I became was the burial ground for the things you wished to leave behind.

Dark, tangled; the haunting scent of funeral roses, the sharpness of thorns, the despair that slumbers deep in the bones.

I am tired of carrying these ashes around from the flame that used to burn between us.

Even Atlas wasn’t burdened with as heavy a weight as the one you laid upon my shoulders.

I bloom and I rage and I weep; I am a garden of grief and glory.

{ alchemistress }
There is no greater power than that of a woman who has learned to turn salt water into flame.

I’ve written of you so often I think I’ve made you immortal.

Don’t spill your blood for someone who never learned how to appreciate the color red.


Do not judge others for how they choose to wear their crown.
There is no wrong way to be a queen.

I built my throne from the wreckage you left behind and now it’s your turn to get on bruised knees and beg.

A floral tomb for a dark queen; an underworld of whispers and ruin; this is where I dwell - this is where I burn.

I keep the ghost of my former self tucked away in a drawer.
She waits (im)patiently for the day you’ll return to mourn her.

I am drawn to things that glitter in the dark. Like a magpie, I collect them and keep them close to my heart.

The snow melts, taking your memory with it.
There is no room for you here in my blossoming Spring.

I still find you in the corners of my mouth, hidden, like a prayer.


Mother, how do I explain that he is softer than any petal growing in your garden?
Mother, how do I show you that I can make Spring bloom in the darkest parts of him?
Mother, how can I convince you to let me go?
- Persephone

Moth wing, fang, and thorn - I wear my darkness like a suit of armor.

Be careful with my tender heart;
it contains a hidden chamber of thorns.

You may have reduced me to embers,
but the smallest spark can start a wildfire.
{ handle me at your own risk }

I find solace in books and silence and flowers.
Always, always flowers.

Is this temple where lovers weep and ghosts chant forbidden hymns, I reside with my tender heart; palms clasped in a prayer only drowned gods dare answer.

I am a girl enchanted - a fairytale made flesh and bone.

I whisper all my secrets to the moon;
she understands the magic of living in shadows.

I wanted to be the girl with roses blooming on her tongue, and that is when I learned that speaking in flowers means having to choke down thorns.

I twist and turn within these bones - a changeling walking a tightrope of spider’s silk woven between this world and the next.

Buried sorrows blossom into toxic flora and I have been tending to a garden both beautiful and deadly.

I delight in this heavy silence of your absence. Here in the dark, we do not mourn monsters.

{ Hades }
I was crafted from this darkness - this ancient womb. I do not fear silence, emptiness: it is from these sacred seeds that life, and light, are born.



Nichole McElhaney is a poetess whose work is heavily influenced by mythology, witchcraft, love, loss, female empowerment, and her peculiar obsession with melancholy.

For more poetry check Nichole McElhaney's books on Amazon
Follow her on Facebook at @nicholemcelhaneypoetry
and Instagram at softspokenspells

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