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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 27, 2018
About this Poem 

“Sometimes we just can't pick ourselves up.”
Melissa Stein

Figure, ground

Catapult through hills
locking on air. So much of it
the lungs won’t take it in.

Then all’s a pinwheel, I’m
the pin. The girl
on her back

having a tantrum
on the drugstore floor
until her mother stands up and leaves.

The ladybug’s gunmetal
legs pedaling machinely
until they still

and fold. The body
is an envelope.
The air black

diamonds and helium
I’m far too far
to grieve.

Copyright © 2018 by Melissa Stein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Melissa Stein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein

Melissa Stein is the author of Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon Press, 2018).

by this poet

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Control was all
I wanted: a handle
on the day, the night
when it curved,
when it swayed,
when I could sense
the teeming stars
in light, in dark
the sun’s bare wire.
Some switch
to turn it off:
each shadow
pinned to each tree
like a radius
of some

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Dear columbine, dear engine.
Mere water will force a flower
open. Then with a touch
the beautiful intact collapses
into color filament and powder.
It’s all my fault. All hands on deck
to help collect what’s spilled.
That could be me beneath
a bridge. Torn up beside the road,

poem

We were all in love
but didn’t know it.
We were all in love
continually. Bless
our little hearts,
smoking and drinking
and wrecking things.
Bless our shameless shame.
We were loud, invincible.
We were tough as rails.
We stole street signs
and knocked over bins

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