The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny

Writer's Statement





I am sitting in my kitchen, printed pages in hand

surveying Earth’s troubles on air, sea and land.

Story crafters have chronicled events through the centuries,

some protagonists feted, others sent to penitentiaries.

In ancient times, traveling oracles entertained a crowd

with embellishments, omissions, foretellings allowed.

Pencils and notebooks, typewriters and cables

were once essential props to convey worldly fables.

Now we have YouTube, tweets, the internet cloud,

our cell phone cameras to transmit tales out loud.


As I peruse all the pages of yesterday’s reporting,

I applaud bleary-eyed editors reviewing and sorting.

How to decide which sorrow or deadly battle to choose?

Which “stand your ground” homicide should make today’s news?

Which mourning family or pile of shrouded dead?

Which village of drone casualties should be pushed ahead

of stories of mayhem or madness or lives in distress?

Which uprising or execution or train wreck to assess

as the lead on the page?  The difference is slender.

The trick is to pick the one all will remember.


Some days it reads as if we cannot save our sad planet,

torture and bloodletting find no easy tourniquet.

Our climate is warming, more creatures disappearing,

poverty rises, wages fall, economic collapse is nearing.

In the Post or the Sun or the Times or the Journal,

some tales are told where truth is just a kernel,

where the heartsick and desperate, like death or the plague,

are thought best to keep muted, goriest details still vague.

Other places find journalists murdered on the street,

sources silenced who once whispered in codes where to meet.


I think it is important when we try to examine

the reasons for wars and death rates and famine.

Not everyone is able to explore true causations

but someone needs to do so, with time and citations.

There is really little worthwhile to be said

for the ubiquitous television talking head.

So I begin my poem-inspired days with the printed page,

a lettered guide, if you will, to help me gauge

how much more might be said, after the sun rises up

and I have folded my newspaper, set down my coffee cup.






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