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Annus Horribilis_Melinda Smith.jpeg
Untitled_Melinda Smith.jpeg

I am uprooted and sick with uprootedness. I’m rotten with uprootedness.
Where am I now?
Some Central Valley house of isolation.

I pull reasons up like weeds.
Two months, and I am itching to move on.
I’m running out of places though!
I wish I hadn’t done this to myself!
I started—when?
At seventeen! My parents chauffeured me
to boarding school.
I never stopped.
I stayed a year, then wanted home again.
From there to university,
from university to Europe, then to NYC,
from there to my “off-seasonal” migration,
two years running,
then Wyoming,
then L.A., Topanga, back again,
and thence to Spain,
and back again,
a couple months of living in a truck,
a farmhouse in Nebraska,
back again,
and then to Austin,
back again
and then to Berkeley,
now to here,
within it all
a hundred moves from house to house!
I’m sick of it!
But stuck somewhere I do not wish to be! Uprooted—fuck, I’ve killed my roots.
My only option is to move again.
(I cannot stay in Walnut Creek!)
But where? To where?
Of course, to here: The only place that I’ve felt certain will destroy me.
City I have loved and hated.
Heed my warning, restless spirits.
Restlessness grows wearisome.
What started as an urge to not belong
becomes, in time, a haunted homelessness.
There is no place that wants me,
in this world,
not one.

Melinda R. Smith

Artist & Poet

I am stuck to the quick
and wish to be quick.
I cannot name what stings me.
But the rash
urge to run is all, right now, I am.
My words will do my fleeing.
I am flung
to say it.
I am fast
to paint fastness.
to say gone,
and vanished to sing vanished’s song.
And yet, in truth,
there is no truth in this.
The urge to run,
if not at once enacted,
will at once expire
and feel more like amputated limbs
than anything propulsive.
Haunting. Nagging.
Useless writer!
Feeler .
Mistress of inaction.
What stung me stings me still, and I cannot extract the stinger, what is Fact.
I name it now,
it took me all these words to dare to.
Gorgon. Paralyzing.
The land will not be folded.
Distance won’t be pleated.
There are 60 million
in as many permutations—
Time will not be hemmed.
I looked upon these things this morning,
and they stuck me
and through.

Dystopia_Melinda Smith.jpeg

As far as the eye can see, sunshine.
Glinting off unused railroad tracks, tracks
slowly going under
the cairn earth.
And on yellow willow trees
the birds try unsuccessfully to come to rest on,
then set off from for the thin pine,
with its reliable limbs,
On the eye’s iris,
making it transparent
like the sea.
Everywhere, everywhere in this California morning, it,
No end.


An Examination of Yesterday’s Letter

Whose tone was tree-plucked firm.
As I protest I hardly know you, I enclose myself in crisp rhythms.
What by now must be a costume with the creases long and long pressed out of it!
I tell you, I am not that crisp, and where I’m creased
is where the rivers of my suffering have run.
The tone, in other words, was false. (Although I meant no falsehood in producing it.) There is this speaker who steps forth,
avoiding contact with the bloody threshold,
ducking under the aortic arch, untouched,
and steps onto the dais.
Clears her throat. And casts her eye into the darkness—
clears her throat again, and speaks.
For me.
While I am somewhere lying like a porpoise in the sun
and halving waters.
I am lazy. Flowing over.
Let her make her bloodless song.
The sands and I know this: the only music is in silence.
As the water rolls its clear enclosure over us,
that dome of iridescence,
all is soft, atonal, silent, true.
But for the speaker’s speech, in which such bright arguments are made as to seem
to be drawn from my quicksilver roof.
And yet upon examination—!
What, but quicksilver?
What but nothing?

Danger!_Melinda Smith.jpeg
The Anxiety of Influence 2.jpeg
The Anxiety of Influence 1.jpeg

The Anxiety of Influence 1

The Anxiety of Influence 2

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