Melissa Studdard is an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, hosts Tiferet Talk radio, and judges the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” She is also the author of the novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pleiades, Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, and Connecticut Review. Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com.

 

“No Philosopher has Yet Solved the Problem
      of Evil”

I guess the sunset forgot to tell them about its beauty.
Ditto the stars.
Because the evening smells
like gun smoke. And someone’s down,
or passed out. Too much whistling and
forgot to take a breath. No. Look
how beautiful, the night—
dusk cracked
open and growing a strange silence,
blood on the floor
worm in the blood,
body clinging to the soul like a parasite.
I don’t have to say it. You know what I mean.
What I’m asking. Why?
Didn’t they see the sunset?
Didn’t they see the stars?

Published in Tupelo Quarterly

 

DAUGHTER

—for Rosalind

Because I was a cave,
and you were the bird that flew through
my hollows, when they bathed the pain away,
the light on your face looked like
peace after a long and onerous
war. I knew then what it meant
to conjure fire
from two sticks, to be an ocean
giving life to a wave, to invent
the wheel and its axle, unwind torque,
create a perfect language
from gurgles and sighs. Your body
was a new and sacred space. I was a universe
cooling after a great expanse.
And because bright cells
clung together to be you,
I could believe
I built the ark that saved humanity.
In animals walking two by two.
That I’m the one who sat beneath
the Bodhi tree
and begot the sacred fig
of enlightenment.
I tell you, Athena sprung
from my own split
head. Because
emergence is a teaching.
Because your hands and feet
were softer than sand. Because before
there were canyons
or valleys or lakes or winds,
you curled your hand around my finger,
and, with your touch, delivered the all.

Published in Pirene's Fountain and Quill & Parchment

 

FOR THE WOMEN OF ATENCO

Take it now, this metaphor, your bread.
You’ve seen God bleeding in the streets,
but the militia couldn’t help, sooty faced
themselves, disoriented by the shrapnel
lodged beneath their right to choose
a peaceful life. Take these words flowing
like wine. Let them salve where hands
gripped too tight, where teeth broke the skin,
where fists beat your notions of freedom
and equality flat as powdered dough, flat
as grapes crushed beneath the pointed
boots of war. Let these words recall
those things you meant to be before
rage came storming through your town.
Let them be your appetizers,
served to you with the humility and respect
you were denied four years ago.
Let these words be your dinners and desserts,
evidence you are being heard. Let them
sustain you, as others sip margaritas on the patio,
as others go on about their lives
oblivious to what you have endured. Your time
will come. So keep your aprons on, women
of Atenco; keep your eyes on the timer
and your hearts on the cause—because grapes
beneath the feet become wine, and
dough that is set aside will rise. Yes—
neglected, resilient dough will rise.

Published in Anthology of Muse for Women and  Hip Poetry.

 

 

Melissa Studderd

 

 

2015 Melissa Studdard


 

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