Melissa Barrett

Boy Eating Ice

It is his gift,
    at this age when his torso
is longest, twenty years old and cinching
       right up to a ridge
of skin, every bit of him
around a coil of crucial organs—
that locketed holy mesh  
home of pit and pat.

Once I bought dinner
for a boy who drank a large Sprite
     just to get to
the ice:   his jaw
never stopped. When I see this boy’s
confident bank of teeth
        going, boulders    
        touch boulders. It’s
convincing someone who never
once believed.

     In fealty, he gives
up so much, just looking—
                a faunlet, with winter apple eyes . . .
I told myself I loved him.
                     I was right.

                           I think
of the governance of woman
   when I see this boy before me, his ribs
stacking like plinths—
                                   of women
who learn to live in a circumference

of dime,  and boys
                      in whole fields of loosestrife.

  The wind lifts
       each piece of his hair
as it lifts each soft
                 sorghum head, a vault
   of sky widens:

      You’ve always wanted
                to be that effortless
But I’m slight, scurrying
   against granite, against
this stillborn November—
   My chest a well
of cold air: Go Go Go
                  it says . . .    
Even when I guide my own hand
I feel like I’m pinning something down.

Yes Is the Only Living Thing

So be it. So bring it, South Beach Diet. So behave or better
don’t. So long sobriety—it’s social drinking week and I’m
historically thirsty. Sloe gin till my vision twins while solid
mental grace singes a hole (that’s classic YES or modern no):
Slowly, solicitously, Juano unbuttons a butterfingered solo.
The university’s golden podium assembled to dismember
Phi Psi machismo: mic’s broke and the Take Back the Night
speaker’s only so-so. So so still: Consent: that yes: truly
pivotal. Get it, or wait patiently pinching mistletoe.

The Patriot

This shade of hubris could ruin a birthday.
His scepter twirls to cattails, you think like a mob.
He could have killed me then, buried his knuckles
in a ruby crypt. I’m sorry, but the children’s play
left me cold. Their voices teem with squealy requisites.
With play being a euphemism. Do you prefer
figurative or scientific magnetism? They smear
peanut oil in the cylinders now. I never grovel. 
Scholarship’s only goal is to prove the superiority
of the human mind over the resurrection.
Give me a crucifix if anything. I’d surrender myself
if only things didn’t seem so unfinished.
You don’t need to dig deep to count my blemishes.
I require sleep—sometimes naps. Can you
explain it any other way? My plea, instructed by god.