Stirring : A Literary Collection

Melissa Benham


If you want me, you know where I am, slosh-mouthed and dancing too much.  These devilish nights keep me talking loud, gasping at the wrong man, crouched up close to the bar.  All to find a bed that will keep.  Years ago you knelt over this body saying, "Calm your eyes, girl, the blur will subside," then caught the next plane out of town. Since then mornings fail me, without a penchant for alarm clocks and all day dreaming of water: a clear pool to wash out messy organs and heavy rusted lungs.  But too, the invitation stands at the end of a continent.  To imagine struggling against turbulent waves, wishing for an underwater city to catch.  There is the difference of straying too far into fantasy.  I should know, I spent months praying to a drowned singer to put in a good word.  Manipulate the strings a bit in my favor.  And so I spend long hours locked inside my room, laundry and ashtrays overflowing, letting the telephone ring.  You were right to settle down, find a wife, and give way to clatter of dinner plates and baby spoons.  I don't have that kind of stamina, not even to read books straight through.  The avenues find me testy, driving all over town.  Careening too fast, spilling coffee, and singing out the window.  Did I ever tell you the time I hit the man in the rain?  The dark spilled so thick and he too appeared as if dropped from the sky.  It wasn't so beautiful as that.  He called me a bitch and threatened me with death, but walked back into the night after the cops came.  Now, I wish for quiet but know it will never find me here, so I make noise to drown out the others.  I turn on every appliance, anything that sounds. Four am. finds me a bed that doesn't sleep, only whispers exhausting stories.  Last night, I gave a performance more fierce than a Mexican soap opera, shaking my friend's tiny bones to make her see what she had done.  Until another voice came from my mouth, "Calm . . . calm . . ."

Melissa Benham
Date of Birth: 5/6/75
Location: San Francisco, California
Publications: Starters 5/8, Infrequencies, People Have Ears, Between Darkness and Light, Poetry Super Highway, Nature's Echoes, Stirring V2:E11, V2:E12
Chapbook: Recounted
Other: Recently accepted into MFA programs of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and Otis College of Art and Design

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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