CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Undone by Arches of Fire
The curtain you noticed trembling, the whole
soft front of it
in purls, tasseled with rope and yearning
behind it, the contralto
her lips like welts
Clouds creak from a knife-colored wire
The star haze ladled out
in a milky swill—even the moss
embossed with glitter
(I said the moss)
Blind octaves splay up
from the pit, all ash and dross by nine
but now the backdrop is rippled
wet as lungs
Hoffman hung in lace
with heart both yes & no
The flames trick up his collar, smear
that set dismantled grey
It’s not the muse that ignites him now
His loins ground into clay
Thumbed down to the rind, the tanner names a broken saddle and old jute scrap, Loud.
As turnstile. Little gob, or flash of runnels, swamping the leather. Like magnet the smell,
Like a brood
Of kelpy rocks. So wires could now be easily drawn, if thought of. Or a mouse’s tail.
Lines lay down
Like silhouette, obedient to gravity and soon dispensable. Meaning: able to be thrown
Into a pit.
Old pens assemble to form turrets or a banister running somewhere from our road to the
Color of it.
Pleasure at Krape Park (M’Conifer of the Glands)
Sky spattered neon
with the sun’s looping promise,
anarchy of branches
split the corners of the almost all
green, untold divinity.
worms ribbon up through the dirt,
pink tubes unbutton, pistils ululating—
and the plumb catkins, trampled over
wet boots, wet boots.
Purpose to Save
Ringing like a gang of coyotes.
The wallpaper smudges, I
don’t sleep. I marry the moon,
tacked to our darkness.
I never wanted the ocean.
I wanted home. And now calomel.
My teeth caramelize, my brain
trips into my skull—
The news cracks into me, a tumid
arm dragging. Grace
turns over like a jar.
I leave the house, the swamp
stares back at me, gratified and full.
The Second Body
burglar of prurience,
at the bottom of a drawer, we count
to see the width of what
the cistern year, the sly
blink of adder and harness
of front door—
waft, a poultice steadying
Windows ciphon words
warm or fricative
rose from the matchbox—
I could have told you
he’d never belong
Melissa Barrett is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and a Tin House writer’s scholarship. Her poems have have received honors from Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Sonora Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, and Narrative. She lives and teaches in Columbus, Ohio.