Poem Entering the Apple Valley Target

Lynn Melnick

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

More by 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.

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.
 

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

Poem Interrupted by Whitesnake

That agreeable feeling we haven't yet been able
   to convert into words to our satisfaction

despite several conscious attempts to do so
   might prove in the end to be nothing

more than satisfaction itself, an advanced
   new formula just sitting there waiting to be

marketed as such: Let my logo be the couch
   I can feel it pulse as the inconstant moon

to which I've come to feel attached continues to pull
   away from earth at a rate of 1.6 inches

every solar year: Let my logo be the couch
   where you merge into nights until you can't


up from the shadows of a factory warehouse
   in historic Secaucus built on top of old swamp-

land I can feel it: Let my logo be the couch
   where you merge into nights until you can't

even remember what you wanted to begin with.
   Let my slogan be the scrapes of an infinite

catalogue's pages turning over and over until you
   find it again
.

                     In the air above Secaucus

a goldfinch, state bird of New Jersey, stops dead
   midflight and falls to the asphalt of a final

parking lot. Where it lands is a sacred site
   and earth is covered in them. Each is like

the single seed from which an entire wheat field
   generates. This happens inside oneself

so one believes oneself to be the owner of it.
   From the perimeter of the field one watches

as its workers undertake their given tasks:
   some cut the wheat, some bundle it; others picnic

in the shade of a pear tree, itself a form of
   labor, too, when unfolding at the worksite.

A gentle pride engilds this last observation like
   sun in September. Because this happens

inside oneself one feels one must be its owner.
   But call out to the workers, even kindly,

and they won't call back, they won't even look up
   from their work.

                        There must be someplace

else where life takes place besides in front of
   merchandise, but at the moment I can't think of it.

In the clean white light of the market I am where
   I appertain, where everything exists

for me to purchase. If there's a place of not meaning
   what you feel but at the same time meaning

every word, or almost, I might have been taught
   better to avoid it, but

                                here I go again

on my own, going down the only road I've ever
   known, trusting Secaucus's first peoples

meant something specific and true when they fused
   the words seke, meaning black, and achgook,

meaning snake, together to make a compound
   variously translated as "place where the snake

hides," "place of black snakes," or, more simply,
   "salt marsh."

                   Going moon over the gone marsh

Secaucus used to be, I keep making the same
   mistake over and over, and so do you, slowly

speeding up your orbital velocity, and thereby
   increasing your orbital radius, just like Kepler

said you would, and though I keep trying not
   to take it to heart, I can't see where else there is

to go with it. In German, a Kepler makes caps
   like those the workers wear who now bundle

twigs for kindling under the irregular gloom. One looks
   to be making repairs to a skeletal umbrella

or to the thoughts a windmill entertains by means
   of a silver fish. Off in the distance, ships tilt

and hazard up the choppy inlet. Often when I look
   at an object, I feel it looking back, evaluating

my capacity to afford it.

                               Maybe not wanting
   anything in particular means mildly wanting

whatever, constantly, spreading like a wheat
   field inside you as far as the edge of the pine

forest where the real owners hunt fox. They keep you
   believing what you see and feel are actually

yours or yours to choose. And maybe it's this
   belief that keeps you from burning it all down.

In this economy, I am like the fox, my paws no good
   for fire-starting yet, and so I scamper back

to my deep den to fatten on whatever I can find.
   Sated, safe, disremembering what it's like

up there, meaning everywhere, I tuck nose under tail
   after I exhaust the catalogues, the cheap stuff

and sad talk to the moon, including some yelping but
   never howling at it, which is what a wolf does.