Melissa Studdard

575632_10200888149827110_1828501195_nBIO

Melissa Studdard is the author of the bestselling novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah and other books. Her works have received numerous awards, including the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book AwardHer first poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, is forthcoming fall 2014. She currently serves as a reviewer-at-large for The National Poetry Review, an interviewer for American Microreviews and Interviews, a professor for Lone Star College System, a teaching artist for The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, an editorial adviser for The Criterion, and host of Tiferet Talk radio. Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com.

 

The Shepherd of Happenstance

I was a gypsy with hips like prophesy
and sandstorms in my eyes.
………………………………..Oh Lordy,
seventeen husbands and two-hundred children.
I traveled so far,
…………………… drank so much wine.
My feet were the keys of pianos, playing
miles and miles of sand.
……………………………….No lie,
I meant to build a camp and stay moonstruck,
near the cave,
…………………….to dance through the night.
Why didn’t I just go inside the trumpet’s lip
and stay? I carried a continent on my back,
……………………………….a sack of sea.
Mother of God. Did you hear the prophecy? Conformity,
conformity, conformity.
……………………………….And plans for escape.
Broke a lot of laws. But remained their plastic doll,
small-waisted, full of lip & shine.
……………………………………….. Father,
they drowned me at the bottom of a river
in a dress made of rocks.
……………………………….Sang a lot of songs.
I’ve always longed for the forest at night, the sounds,
the owls.
……………………Great spirit,
I was a wisp of steam on a lake that no one saw.
……………………………… Oh Lordy.
Bless me. End me. Save me.
I’ve traveled so long.

 

I Fell In Love With a Double-Yolk Egg

In the egg
that cracked its head,
a tree and butterfly were dancing,
yellow wings, yellow leaves,
yellow, yellow—
breaking away from trunk. Who
painted all that yellow in there?
I’m falling in love with movement,
the swirl of yolk, a sapling hand
on the butterfly’s back, a spin, a dip,
the swish of nucleus
flying into the rafters of bowl,
and here comes my lovemaking
hand, wanting to hold it all together:
how the egg and milk marry bread,
dressed in a dash of cinnamon.
Exotic, scented gown.
Polygamous ritual.
Eyes like ovenlight.
I disappeared into it all,
skipped across the rim of shell,
forgot my name and where I came from.
Hadn’t I been to the source and back?
When they found me, I was dancing with apples
next to the handle of a floured pin.

 

In Another Dimension, We Are Making Love

What color is dreaming? you ask.
I answer in the language of fleur-de-lis,
paisley and plaid. Then, what is the sound of death?
you ask, so I draw you a picture of dreaming.
What is left to know but that I’m re-writing the formula
for the air between us? Part nitrogen, part oxygen, the rest trace gasses
of love. Like you, I believe most in what
I cannot see or hear. Anger: a wounded steam
rising from the cauldron of your throat.
Alchemy: the steam dissipates, and you reach
across the table for my hand. So—
let’s note that it was already storming before we arrived,
though our only proof
is an exhausted cloud passed out in the courtyard
and a thunderbolt curled up beside it.
Let me point out that in another dimension
this restaurant is a bedroom
in which we are making love. Don’t
try to understand.
Just paint the air human,
take off your clothes,
hand back your coat of arms.
What you mistook for a person
is really a country
with a dark and sacred history
and no scholars to explain away the confusion.
Just burn the archives down.
Everything we have to know
we learned from a picture of dreaming.
Everything we need to remember
can fit on a scrap of paper
smaller than your hand.

 

*****

 

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