The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny




I lie awake wondering if salvation 

can befall my planet – I'm as haunted 

by the question as a Pentecostal supplicant 

awaiting some death-bed revelation.


The universe I eerily quiet

As I review solemn lists of species

Soon-to-vanish. My head nods in rhythm 

but sorrowful passings yield no sleep.


At earth's bottom, a state size chunk 

of ice sighs into wind then breaks away. 

I imagine it sounds like cymbals clashing,

crashing, thrashing in the dark waters.


It seems as if everyone is too stunned

by inevitable goodbyes to try to stop

our downward arc. Sometimes there is beauty

in final departures, distracting us


Like the incandescence of fire

before grey ash settles over the forest

or waterways thickened with phosphorescent 

algal blooms fanning out like liquid rainbows.


Even where natural colors have slimmed down

like hollowed coral reefs as bleached as

an O'Keefe skull, we still search for hints of stars

hoping signs of inexorable exit are premature.


Desert floors crack beneath relentless suns.

As they shrink down, I think of clay ovens

baking hot winds into sturdy vessels

where bold imaginings of rain might form.


Land and sea mourn their islands

who disappear like runaway children.




One, in Louisiana, seen from above, looks like

old lace curtains decomposing in unforgiving light.


Little remains for native denizens to fish or hunt.

Yet another story of stolen tribal lands

is told, even as they tend to the

waterlogged graves of their ancestors.


Soon enough, flood waters rise up

over my head.  Houses, cars, trees,

light poles, refrigerators all float past

faster than anyone can swim.


No wonder sleep is difficult.

As dreams of territorial erasures vie

with other losses for our attention,

my body heat creates new climate zones.  




"HOT FLASHES"  appears in Volume 2 of the highly acclaimed anthology series:  AWAKE IN THE WORLD, published by Riverfeet Press.   

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