The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny


There's a house somewhere I know where the fire's burnin'

All night long… 

And even though the wind may now be howlin'

The stars are bright and they push me on and on


         —“Half Moon Rising” (Yonder Mountain String Band)






We keep exploring outer space for answers.

Out there, we learn that black holes make sounds

of music as they swallow everything

around them. Celestial destruction

to the tune of string band melodies, as if

the Osborne Brothers or the Red Clay Ramblers

had booked a cosmic venue where eager stars

do-si-do around dark matter’s edges.


Sit still and you will hear creation’s story

spelled out with mandolins, fiddles, five-string

banjos. On Earth we are orchestrating our

own demise. Everything has turned extreme.

Our hottest week just past will not be last.

The burning air tastes like barbeque.

Put an ear to ground, hear it singe, smolder,

sear from simmering smog and haze.


Far better to harmonize and tap our feet

as Earth’s axis shifts and we wobble, weave

like drunken sparrows. Saharan sands might

land in Kansas while floodwaters choke New

Jersey highways and algal blooms poke out

from Florida’s rivers. Grab a good seat

at our cosmic amphitheater where smoke

rises from the speed of guitar picking.


If you listen closely, you can hear some scat,

nonce, argot. Go with the flow. Flat Foot Floogie,

Tutti Fruiti. Explosions of fervor, fury

unleashed by gas ripples in galaxy

clusters. Who can say this fate will not be

ours as well? One hopes we won’t be around

by then. For now, we can dance as glissandos

of sound drift from the heart of the Milky Way.



July 13, 2023

Extreme Weather Poems

The New Verse News

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