landscape with sex and violence

[poetry month] "Poem to Remind My Heart to Beat" by Lynn Melnick


No matter the upright life I’ve been trying to lead
I keep looking for new ways to bluff myself

so hard I’m always pleading for relief, frantically
trying to locate whatever blunt object would sock me

into unconsciousness, I know what it’s like
to be powerless

on a shag rug. When I tell you — come closer,
closer, look how pretty I am, come closer, close —

I will bury you there
in this petri dish of what-went-wrong

growing in its dozens of gruesome sequences.
It’s October, slowly

the webs arch iron railings, the pumpkins appear
like cautions, vigilant but motionless.

I would like that, my mood stabbed into me,
triangle eyes blinking only the fire

behind them. Come closer, close: look how pretty
I died on the shag rug, but you still

remember me. Autumn never did to me
what it did to others, a beauty to admire

right before the end.
I’ve been wrinkling, slowly, closer,

I need you to cuff me to whatever
apparatus will pump the blood into

and out of my heart. Cut me open with chill-
in-the-air, carve into me a face that can over-

take this unreasonable face. Closer, take me
apart in your arms, I am not any brilliant color but

the dried brown leaf of the season folded over
and stepped on by whatever step rushes

where any step is rushing to in all these crumbled pieces
and in all these pieces I am sending myself

into the air to see where I land.

— Lynn Melnick, from Landscape with Sex and Violence, Yes Yes Books, 2017.