Melissa Studdard is the author of the best­selling novel Six Weeks to Yehi­dah and the newly released My Yehidah (a companion journal that nurtures emotional intelligence, creativity, and authenticity). Since its August 2011 release, Six Weeks to Yehidah has been the recipient of many accolades, including the Forward National Literature Award and January Magazine's best children's books of 2011. She is also, with Scott Lutz, co-author of For the Love of All, which is the fifth story in the Mark Miller’s One series. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and arti­cles have appeared in numer­ous jour­nals and antholo­gies, includ­ing Boule­vard, Con­necti­cut Review, Pleiades, Gradiva, Amer­i­can Book Review, Poets and Writers, and The Smok­ing Poet. She cur­rently serves as a Reviewer-at-Large for The National Poetry Review, an editorial advisor for Lapis Lazuli Journal of The Harold Pinter Society of India, and a con­tribut­ing edi­tor for both The Criterion and Tiferet. As well, she is the host of Tiferet’s radio inter­view program, Tiferet Talk, which interviews writers and spiritual and religious leaders. A collection of these interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews, will be released by Tiferet Press this spring. Studdard is a professor at a community college in Texas. 

 

Om

He sent us flowers without a card,
God did — that trickster soul.
It must have been a sound that started it all,
And he’s still out there somewhere, laughing
While we seek directions, or direction,
While we, the addressees, search for an addresser,
While we sort and sift and categorize and collect,
Divide, classify and analyze. Our refrigerators hum to us,
And heaven knows the bugs make their merry at night.
Once I even saw the color yellow hum
When I imagined van Gogh stroking its thick,
Vibrant passion onto the page.
That yellow song was anything but hum-drum.
I swear, I felt it on the roof of my mouth
And at the back of my throat
Like a yogic ritual or some sort of Tantric stunt.
Even deep in my chest, yes, I felt the hum.
And in the other room — the clothes in the washer,
Round and around they went, their own spinning universe,
And next to them, a parallel world, the dryer,
Connected to the same outlet,
Hum, hum, humming away.
This life is anything but ho-hum,
With all this motion and noise.
Hell, I can hardly even hear over the hum of my phone,
Which I have cursed for interference,
Which I have indignantly labeled, “that silver piece of shit,”
Which I have threatened to replace (like it cares),
And which was really Om all along.
Washing clothes, I’ve since learned, is an act of prayer.

*Published in Tiferet Journal, Re-Published in Red Fez, Featured at St. Julian Press WEB site, forthcoming in the Hip Poetry 2012 Anthology

 

Looking at A Young Woman with a Water Jug

Can you see the way Vermeer
could twirl light
around his thumb
and pull it straight again
and lay it across a vase
or table—

how the instant
between a smile
and a smile expired
can be brought to focus
with color?

No more
are shadows hid in dark
but something felt
in sanguine or cobalt—
a cold shimmer
at the rim of a golden jug,

as if friction
between objects
required only nearness,
as if a pale, blue drape
had love to give
to a brass wash basin.

I imagine our human minds
to be like these objects—
delivering and seeking
the same light
from different points,
casting radiant shadows
on other minds,

like some swart alchemy
brewing in a basement lab,
the commingling of hues
in a cast-iron pot
and the rising of mind
laid bare on mind,
the rising of pure idea.

*Published in Connecticut Review


 

Nirvana

--inspired by the Remedios Varo painting
To Be Reborn

There’s no mother’s milk
the second time around,
just a crescent moon
floating in a goblet bigger
than your own head, or
maybe it’s really the world
in there, shimmering and
dark, ready to be consumed.
I’d say be careful drinking
out of that thing, but
how trite it would sound
after what you’ve just
done, tearing through
Mother earth’s most intimate
fabric, ripping a frayed slit
just for yourself. Think of trees
poking their branches where
they don’t belong, encroaching
back through the windows built
to keep them out. You’re
something like that, one
of nature’s great mysteries
thrusting yourself into
the narrow rooms of man,
enclosing yourself between
the walls of this synthetic  
life, time after time, birth
after birth, like a hamster
in a cage on a wheel. Sure,
each ride is different, but
at some point you’ll break
down that cage door, say
goodbye to the spinning
wheel, and finally run free.

Published in Tryst

 

Melissa Studdard

 

 

2012 Melissa Studdard


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