Poetry: Lynn Melnick

Landscape with Fog and Fencepost

I hear you in the kitchen
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

Across the alleyway from myself there I am
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
was pretending

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

as fashion
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.

LynnPhotoLynn 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.