Stephen Ellis





“Car Je est un autre.”

          — Rimbaud, letter to Paul Demeny, 15 May 1871



The garment of light

Borne of the heat of


Absorbing into my own

Inner conduits the soul


Of my abuser, that his

Be mine, thus to


Reveal himself to me, I

Take off my own skin, now


Come to be this inherited

Shirt, the radiance


Of which has glued me

To myself through it, so I


Hear the tear and feel

The pain of separation,


Seeing below my chin

As it opens deeply at the neck,


The bare breastbone

First of Herakles,


And as it falls away from

My shoulders and slithers


Down my arms, the beautiful

Thinness at waist, and mild


Breasts of Athena, borne out

Beyond hindrance, as by


Incarnation I am

Paradoxically given myself


Birth and passage out of

A skin, inherited by act,


To a skin mine own, achieved

By the stillness of finally


And simply ceasing to avoid

Deserving and so having it.









Stephen Ellis’s date and place of birth are unknown.  Editorial advisement and life distribution were, first, in the hands of his parents, and then developed individually as well as through The Mercy Seat Collective, which he co-founded with poet and community activist Kenneth Warren — a project funded by “you the listener” — and also through the Western Exile Society, a non-federated union of loose persons of typically carbon manufacture. Stephen Ellis is online at Toast