Monday, November 17, 2014

Melissa Studdard


In the woods you found a carcass with maggots in its chest,
with waterfalls in its eyes, with the buzz of life still

hovering around its skull, and in commemoration, you grabbed
your sweetheart’s hand, with your left, and on your right, you

snatched the clasped hand of the world and said: Look here, how
we build skyscrapers in the cavity of death’s groin, how we

paint lilacs on its ribs. We will drive motor cars over its
bones and laugh in the waning perfume of midnight, and, my love,

I will write you a poem, a tribute to your beautiful decay,
to your rotting thighs, to the death you will birth with sex

because, truly, this is beauty—this festering carcass in the woods,
this putrid nag, truth. And in it, you will live forever.

                        Previous publication: The Fox Chase Review



Yesterday I drew a very big, rather rare night moth, called the death’s head, its colouring of amazing distinction . . . I had to kill it to paint it, and it was a pity, the beastie was so beautiful. —Vincent Van Gogh

The flapping of night-wings by fire,
a rattling in the skull,
a moth, wings cloudy white,
tinged carmine and faded green:
all is captured in a sigh of pity—
beauty must hold still to be seen.

What is death to the dead
when art gives wing to the living?
When what was gauzy and frail
presses its form to human
shores, to be held there, foam swept
through quicksilver days,
there to withstand the turning of seasons.

The leaves will green again,
brown again, gold, and green again.
The leaves will go red.
Red, and the death’s head moth flutters,
steadfast, swept beyond the joy and danger
of a shift in wind.

Artist, have you learned the moth?
You are more alike than you can see.
Not in the way a night can swarm to flame,
but like a gust of stars
breathless with foretelling—

Markings, like the lines
that streak your palm, tell of leaves
pressed into a book. Their color fades.
They rot. They leave behind
an imprint on the page.

                        Previous publication: Boulevard



—inspired by the John Sokol painting,
Icarus Practicing

Stretch them wide
as God’s first breath.

From tip to tip
there is no time.

Just the rumbling
of a tune

in your makeshift
beak, and bright

sky galloping
through the hollow

of bone. Bucket
of air, spine built

from light, boy
full of flutters

and drafts—you
speak mountain

stream, laurel leaf,
rolling cloud—

the dialect of flight.
The world drifts

like a madness
inside you—earth, 

trees, and birds,
feathers, wings,

and night, the start
and end of time

rowing through
blood’s currents,

sailing inside
the freedom

of mind,
now split open

by a whirlwind
of koan, pushed

like air through
sky’s vast lung.

When I go,
let me go

like you, Icarus,
past my own

limits before
I fall. Let me

be a flesh-toned
streak in the sky,

a flash in the blue,
a sunburst

of wonder

the ripples
of sea.

                        Previous publication: Pirene's Fountain



—inspired by the Remedios Varo painting,
To Be Reborn

To be reborn,
step barefoot from this world, praying
to be reborn
wild-eyed, seared by life, and graying
already with wisdom, forewarned:
it’s a sad, sweet, brief delaying,
to be reborn.

                        Previous publication: Tryst



Someday I’ll meet you again,
and we’ll sleep like the eyes of hurricanes,
lidless in our trek to taste each other’s tongues
as they throw dirt over my face, into the quivers
of my throat. I’ve been meaning to say a little
something each night, to light a candle
in the doorframe, set fire
to the empty church: For you, I’d drive
the people back into each other’s arms,
where they could see, finally, your
softness again. I meant to say I knew you
were unhoused, the original nomad. There were
none living there among the pews. What was left
was pressed among the pages of psalmody.
And this is no new thing.
Another costume off: My golden hair.
My blue-green eyes.
Shed beneath the dirt.
I meant to say, how are you? And, also,
this is not about me. Because there are tigers
scratching at the swirling wind, and there are monsters
banging on the shutter doors. Because I’ve had no time
to think or eat properly or rest.
It was all just a blind sneeze in the wind.
Let me know everything about you, please.
I’ll go back. Do it right this time.
I’ll be a dragonfly, a pebble, an earthworm, a flea.

                        Previous publication: Ishaan Literary Review



—inspired by the Remedios Varo painting,
To Be Reborn

There’s no mother’s milk
the second time around,
just a crescent moon
floating in a goblet bigger
than your own head, or maybe
it’s really the world in there,
shimmering and dark,
ready to be consumed.
I’d say be careful drinking
out of that thing, but
how trite it would sound
after what you’ve just
done, tearing through
Mother Earth’s most intimate
fabric, ripping a frayed slit
for yourself. Think of trees
poking branches where
they don’t belong,
encroaching windows built
to keep them out. You’re
something like that, one
of nature’s great mysteries
thrusting into the narrow rooms
of humanity, rattling
between the walls
of this synthetic  
life, time after time, birth
after birth, like a hamster
in a cage on a wheel. Sure,
each ride is different, but
at some point you’ll break
down that cage door, say
goodbye to the spinning
wheel, and finally run free.

                        Previous publication: Tryst

© Melissa Studdard


No comments:

Post a Comment