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June 27, 2018 Poetry

Four Poems

Brandon Melendez

Four Poems photo


today sadness
is not loud

no drunk orchestra
of horns
braying inside
a beat mule

no beat
no mutiny

today sadness is soft
& small

plucked crow
in a tub of milk

muffled yip
& limbs
that don’t swing

as much as spread
like wings
of uncooked meat

sadness mistakes
the drain
for an exit

opens its mouth
to scream

& white
rushes in

origin / predisposition

I was born & immediately evacuated
from the hospital. Before my mother
could hold me, gloved men severed
my umbilical cord & dragged me out
of town. It’s true, though I should mention
it was for my own good. I needed
a bigger hospital, better doctors.
I came into this world with a hole
in my lung; slugtunnel & perforated
flesh. My first act as a sentient body
was to grab the doctor’s stethoscope,
scissors, latex & plunge them into
my chest. A first desperate attempt
to clot whatever emptiness lived in me.
I did not have object permanence nor
could I pronounce hunger, but I already
knew there was something inside me
I could not fill. Another boy, perhaps,
with a face not quite mine, sitting
below my sternum eating grass, ash,
his own hands. The doctors will tell you
the years have turned his mouth into regular
meat—the hole sealed over. But I know
the truth. The boy survived, learned to hide
his appetite for metal & metastasis, how
to beg softly & only after the room goes
dark. Yes, to be sure, if you cut me open,
you would discover I look exactly
like all the men in my family.

Bay Poem from Boston

                  After Sandra Cisneros

The night we ended, you told me I was dead to you.
Not in those words, exactly. It was more

like the ugly silence that pillages a house
filled with people who no longer love

each other. For weeks after, I watched California burn
out my window & on the evening news & the ash

in my cheeks became the only way
to pronounce home. I practiced leaving it

by spitting out the car window on I-80 east.
I drove & drove. Counted each fence & oil spill,

each cattle farm & slaughterhouse, imagined
adopting the dead dogs & raccoons I passed

along the median, or at least giving them a proper
burial. Don’t we all deserve cleaner, happier exits?

Someone who will cry at the funeral? If you’re rich
enough, you can hire someone to bawl into a black veil,

to fling their shivering body onto your casket.
Some people make a living this way. Probably

the same folks who say shit like give it another year,
you’ll feel like yourself again
. Well, I made it

to the edge of the Atlantic. It’s too cold to feel much,
but I’ll keep waiting. Maybe a ship will mistake

the high-rise lights for an unpolluted sky & run
aground. Maybe I’ll throw myself on the wreckage

& pretend to weep for everyone onboard. I’ll say
something like I’m sorry. I’m sorry. There’s no kind way

to end up outside your body. There is nothing
I can give you that silence won’t take.


portrait of anxiety as liminal space

—a car circles through a roundabout searching for an exit when a deer crashes through the windshield & then another & another & the barrage doesn’t stop the car accelerates as the road swells with fresh fur coats the coats come back to life as deer just in time to be impaled by the incoming car & for the life of me i can’t tell if i’m driving or if i’m even in the car i might just be standing there waiting—



image: Hayes Hoey