Fluorescent lighting so loud we lose
Our hearing, so loud

It says its name: Bright, bright--
An auditorium

Of tear-stained yesses and my skin
The color of vichyssoise,

A mattress left out in the rain.
The pleather is wet

With venereal disease tonight
And tomorrow

Every newspaper will slowly
Go broke. Give us

Half mast for the obit, o please.
This is the year

Broadsheet could keep us from
The icecaps, almost

A cure for homesickness if only
We hadn’t forgotten

How to read. Ms. Loren, let your
Poor face

Retire—that legacy of tenth grade
Bulimia & winged

Eyeliner won’t die, it races through
Us like Theraflu, like

Commitment even though marriage
Ruins our e-mail

Contacts. Like the horses in Westerns
We stand: deferring

To a ring of too-serious actors--

Everything in Black Hawk dies
Or grows

Tokens. Home is a green dusk,
A rim of woods

& our wooden owl at the cornice,
never knowing flight.


Something tells me to look at
the fire. My eyes pucker.
It’s young, indomitable, it’s slicing
the cage like wings.

Something tells me to describe it.

Like a dishcloth wrung.
Like a dozen tissue banderoles.
Like a searing applause, or
Humbert’s loins—so much red
lacing here.

A hand of fire surges up
like malaria, brain swell—sacrilege
and on the third day, resurrection.

Something tells me this is good.
Something tells me: You are a poet.
    (And a flood of ants
    shoot over my skin—)

The barley field rung
with glass-eyed puddles & halved
by a schoolhouse, daily fracturing
the pasture with bell roar--

& the remnants of fire:
twigs, roots, whole logs & roasted
cracking mandarin charcoal--

O hoarse & unheard song
of whittling embers.

Melissa Barrett is the recent author of False Soup, a veg-friendly cookbook from Forklift, Ink. Her poems have received honors from Tin House, Indiana Review, and Gulf Coast, and can be found in No Tell Motel, Front Porch, and H_NGM_N. “Pilot,” her collaboration with filmmaker Pete Luckner, recently debuted at Video Dumbo.

I was raised in a house that had over 4,000 mechanical clocks in it. The chimes would go off every quarter hour, at all hours. I eventually got used to it, but friends who came over appeared visibly uneasy.