01 August 2007

Featured Poet: Melissa Severin

Ars Amatoria

Though the mysteries of Venus are not buried in a box,
nor echo in the wide air to the clash of cymbals,
but are busily enjoyed so, by us all,
they still wish to be concealed among us.

--Ovid, Ars Amatoria

My life repeats,
bobs in and out
of water, misses night's

seaward drag against stomach.
Lungs won't take prisoners
but this mouth that sops kelp
slush, an open window on my face.

This is the thunderhead.
Hurricane. If the ocean turned
to snow we'd have an avalanche
of pine needles to sew shut out jaws.

with breath, lassoed
voices, deteriorated word ropes.
Against the molars,
Morse code
of my name once spoken.
Becomes it, once spoken, untrue
for the grave love made; soliloquy
stuck in the tongue pit, monstrously

Said yes too much,
licked clean plates clean,
watched skin go slate,
made specious excuses

for failed concoctions
best left to chemists,
undertakers and impressionists. They see
a thing distantly: heart beats in calligraphy
on a compass, the measure of a termite wing
ductile and trapped among cilia,
taxidermied dromedaries just to show us
what they're made of. Sequels
scalpeled into the skin like secrets
now obsolete.

Call brush strokes obvious,
the use of plastic, morose.
When he gives you a rose,
do not knit him a blanket.

Unsleeping Fragments

(collaboration with Jared Weber)

It's not when but
you come to it, mutable;
a conversation suddenly shifted
to a foreign language.

that knowledge no one really hears
what they can't comprehend, just fragments hung

between elevator doors. Panic
sounds like a ring
for each floor, a sentence
rising in the throat, a choke
on a cherry pit, aril sweet
around the stone.

Nervy taste
on a broken tooth, tart,
the pain of pushing
a hangnail, the red swell,
infection at the root.

Doesn't exist
until flesh-a hand
against a neck-accidentally
means yest.
Arms become
drape the wall
of a back. In this light
that t-shirt looks like a cast
holding back the chest;
it buckles with a heavy breath
And "it" and "how" are never
or in lowest terms all setting

and take back the take back
as cotton hold whatever well

you get it don't you right?
More or less
a game a technique being entertained,
privacy alleged as mystery extensive unabridged
lyrics so-called mystery as detained
answers writing ars in the arse
we lie down,
we wake up,
we never rise,

we uncover our legs but stay under
the blanket like it's a body almost
holding what is preset
and inherent to out call
and answer
is he who begins holds response
control in the breathable epic

blanket we hold on
glad for the grip.
But did you hear my sleep,
its oak grasp my mouth

wishing it could kneel
next to night,
hands in ribs

because we're just sleeping
I venture

I hear clinically taste preliminary

slumber in committee but what has the discovery
of groups ever brought about
but the expense account? Important to my listening

is my anchored protocol an asset
accredited meaningfully to a groundbreaking emotional screening:

staying in our suite to identify
survival's flexing muscle
express tower * The bed

is a bell tower chimes
on the hour. It's better than water,
the rain in the attic, counting off thunder
counting eyelashes, coffee grounds
and phases of the moon multiply
sex in unnamable numeric succession

leaving blanket on body body covers false ribs

& double rib equals rain
the universal metaphor
for everything except wetness.
When you're

ready for it, there's a wing I keep

with me, I wake it at 5am.

Take it. Then take me with you. This summer's spine

turned to butter;
what melts is made stronger
by the stranger lying here. In another time zone
communal grammar aerates your lumbar,
tips off the amorous suitcase:
the moon likes to build a utopia & immediately
burn it down
I've told the truth
I've believed in the low
value and elevated fee of wings unique

to my wishes but you * how much lowing and license can you take?

How much now can I pack
in my fist?
There's a silver grief trailing behind:
a comet's tail or trace of bullets.
And I've asked lord
willing to wear uncomfortable clothing @ 6AM

I do not believe memoir
will uncover a prologue toward a god
a god who if it
was truly intelligent would've offered
more than an interlude,
the second a mirror cracks,

the dryness of an elbow is the burden of want.

Taste the slack of ropes. There is a coast for me to wash toward,

a dark I've not slept in yet,
a sleep I've not slept;
because my hair is a wick and I'm unlit,

I'll take a bit
and harness, a lantern,
flourescent overhead. Tonight,
the radio on my sash is the moon,
a Japanese economist saying,

There's an unconscious risk in the world.


I love unplugging things. When I
unplug the lamp the light comes on
and I don't think of it as confusing
but more of an airplane or a zeppelin
in a tiger's mouth, a plaything.
When I play, when I see a play,
when I block backs
to the audience, you can see
their faces better. Your back
gives me my back, back.
Giver. Give me my money back
because it's too tight around this wrist
and I can't make a fist without it.
Cut off my circulation. You're circulating
the room, searching for a torso
to climb. Sun in the shutters
shelters your face from looking ugly
but you're ugly anyway. You're
my type of ugly. On the inside, I'd ask
why you're sitting here
except that I see your ugly
and plug in.

© copyright 2007 Melissa Severin

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