Landscape with Fog and Fencepost
assembling soup from plastic
and kicking the cabinets again which is why
they’re unsteady but what isn’t and
it doesn’t matter
you can’t hammer a nail without drilling a hole through me first.
Left bare where you fastened me this morning
to the deck, faded to gray
despite the fogged air
of central coastal California
I’m tied to the redwood of the fencepost
but I’m done with begging
because this is only a blip in a lifetime of skin.
Cold, I bump up and try to think about things
other than cold
like how once you lit my hair on fire
and I watched it in the periphery
alight to my scalp
before I realized
I knew a way to stop it.
Landscape with Pinweed and Stunt Double
lit by Hollywood in a decalescent dress
which feels just by looking at it
that someone’s holding my hips and going at me face down
but I’ve seen my ringer in a stern scarf
throw her keys at would-be punks
and catch one at the back of the head so hard he called up a loud
“goddamn it bitch” and I envied that
as I never really learned how to finish an interaction
without letting semen inside me somewhere.
To the Woman Across the Alleyway:
the worst thing of all
it wasn’t happening or maybe in that moment I convinced myself
it was happening to someone else.
Living in this wasteland
I didn’t wear a scarf until I was too old to risk
anything around my neck
and would just as soon
groan into a chokehold than wear it
though grubs have fed on me in every season
because I’m a lush
tacky annual unwinding in rare humidity toward self-burial
or, I mean
once I pull my true self from the split.
Lynn Melnick is author of If I Should Say I Have Hope (YesYes Books, 2012) and coeditor, with Brett Fletcher Lauer, of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015). She teaches at 92Y in NYC and is the social media & outreach director for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.