Landscape with Clinic and Oracle

Maybe you’re not the featherweight champ
of all the cutthroat combat sports

(fifteen and pregnant
again)

but you’d convert your ring corner
into a slaughterhouse

before you’d inquire after human kindness.


In the humdrum flare outside the clinic
you wait for a ride, feel the spill at the tipping point

trickle down your inner thigh
as you bask in the post-industrial particulate

on your skin, ash
into a jasmine pot’s bituminous anchorage

so tacky it glows in a habitat that spent your body
long before it finished growing.

    
     Lynn! they lied to you

don’t you know?
Your womb will be the first thing to heal.

What you smell is pleasure, not the rot of the thing
amid the waste.

You will have babies.
You will write poems about flowers that turn on in darkness.
 

More by Lynn Melnick

Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target

Into the fluorescent rough country
headlong into bulks of flesh

impatient to outspend me

and who wouldn’t fold real quick
under the weight of America’s sales and specials.

I believed then I didn’t

that I was different than I am
in my own skin in this infinity

mirror, instructed such
to seduce myself, to go on.

I am sorry

about the space I take up
about the panic

running around my aspect and my hunger

although it’s nothing

these racks of acrylic winter apparatus
won’t dazzle out of my head.

I’ll take several. I’ll take fistfuls.

I’ll tuck it into my mouth at night to keep me quiet.

 

About this poem:

"I wrote this poem because I find myself terribly overwhelmed by the experience of shopping, by all the stuff and all the people, and all the people in a frenzy over all the stuff. I get confused and I can’t breathe and I can barely remember who I am or what I want. And then I buy something I don’t need."

Lynn Melnick

Landscape with Happily Ever After

Near midnight I’m held
hostage to the hazy upshot in the corner

velvet near a laced up tree and curious how I got here.

What a crowd! I think
and I think I should hoard my stash in my shoe.


Did you catch the census takers trying to autocorrect
the shelterbelt out of my history

when meanwhile

I’ve been fending off elements
since I first showed up at this latitude so

I don’t trust easy.


In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
you ask me outside

where the music dims
against the complicated bramble

and I love how the moon

is gilding the rusted basketball hoop in the driveway
and bouncing off the sheen of the rubber tree

and onto this fable
in a city that bleeds its saline soil

into another difficult year.

Losing the Narrative

A shattered bottle tore through my hand last month and split 
a vein until every finger was purple and I couldn’t
 
make even a tentative fist. I used the other hand to indicate
 
I’m okay. 
 
How unwise I am, how polite in a crisis.
In triage, an overheard photo of someone’s lover 
 
almost 3000 miles west made me seize with longing 
when I spied a palm tree in the background.
 
I understand what it says about me 
that my body lustfully wishes to place itself where it was never safe.
 
I have put enormous energy into trying to convince you I’m fine and
 
I’m just about there, no? 
 
Besides, decades on, poorly healed bones help me to predict rain!
though it’s true I like to verify weather
 
with another source because I tend not to believe myself.
I’ve been told repeatedly that I don’t understand plot but
 
it would be a clever twist, wouldn’t it, if in the end 
I realize it’s me who does me in.
 

Related Poems

How I Am

When I talk to my friends I pretend I am standing on the wings 

of a flying plane. I cannot be trusted to tell them how I am. 
Or if I am falling to earth weighing less 

than a dozen roses. Sometimes I dream they have broken up 

with their lovers and are carrying food to my house. 
When I open the mailbox I hear their voices 

like the long upward-winding curve of a train whistle 

passing through the tall grasses and ferns 
after the train has passed. I never get ahead of their shadows. 

I embrace them in front of moving cars. I keep them away 

from my miseries because to say I am miserable is to say I am like them.