New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

2 poems by Melissa Mulvihill

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I write from northeast Ohio where I live with my husband who is an attorney and with our two sons, 17 and 21, and our labradoodle, Luna(tic). In 1990 I graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in psychology and in 1996 I graduated with an M.A. in Counseling from John Carroll University. I recently survived 8 years of homeschooling with my sense of humor and some brain cells intact so I sometimes write about things I notice. I have been recently published in the 2017 Poet Haven’s Digest, Strange Land and The Poet’s Haven’s Digest, The Distance Between Insanity and Genius. My work also appears in multiple issues of the Blue Nib Literary Magazine and The November 2017 issue of The Write Launch Magazine. My poem, Your Phone Call, appears in The Blue Nib Anthology.



Tidally Locked

I was a believer when the ritual first began
but I never thought I would be defending from taking
that which is not meant to be given
or sacrificed at the altar
of widespread cynicism masked
with big words like Individualized Education Plan and Executive Functioning Skills
and assurances that
“We care alot.”

I was an agitator approaching the tabernacle
of adult Walk Heavies
orbiting our four-year-old son
and his exotic particles
a perfect memory for the spoken word
a vocabulary exceeding most second graders
a tendency for literal interpretations
a memory for
“Don’t come back until you can use scissors and button your jeans.”
Even though you admitted to us that you said this and meant it
You’re fired.

I was a disruptor mending wounds
of anguish and lacerations
of distress surgically administered over time
in 24 hour cycles
on the playground
in the hallways
at lunch
in a locked bathroom stall for 45 minutes
bullied by a plague of a kid
“Joey was just kidding. You should teach your kid to defend himself.”
My son is not your son’s pavement.

I was a skeptic numb to the creeds
of indifference and always unmet IEP objectives
and the harried accusations
“Your son is like the moon. One sided. He just can’t revolve like other kids. He is too still.”
And the basilica of bluster persuaded by
its own lack of definition
mired in its own well of gravity
unaware of nearby celestial bodies
simple preached
“He’ll never learn to type or
to drive,
and he’ll never go to college.”

We’ll do this ourselves.
“You can’t do this alone.”
Oh, we are not going to do this alone.
Just not with you.

I became a heretic when I grew up
and became Brogan’s mom
and felt the dark matter
pulsing around him in cosmic waves
the constellation of his Whatness
keeping me in an orbit safe enough to be brave
close enough to say to the universe

I am a disbeliever
In the myth that the moon
Is still

Having stood bathed in light on the near side
and having negotiated the cratered far side of the moon

For 21 years
I can tell you that

The problem is perspective
The issue is your speed
The thing is your timing

People of this planet

The moon rotates
And the stars rise and fall there
Just like on your earth

But you are tidally locked
And have not met
at all.


I’m Partial

She bumped into me
with her slurry words
and clicky stilettos

While she explained with high pitched
detail how she lost her purse
somewhere in Montreal but she did not know where

I shared my eyeliner with her
and partook in overly friendly chatter
and prolonged handwashing

As I untangled myself
she tripped, grabbed at my elbow,
and a stall door

Which slipped helplessly from her grip
banging horribly in the
half done emptiness

As if she always landed on bathroom floors
she quipped, “Actually I need to know the
tall man you were talking with.
I always see him at these law thingys.
I’m partial to him.”

This she said as if she were comparison shopping
for jeans and a cute T shirt
to go with her strappies

When I reached to help her up
her hand slathers around in mine
all sweaty and clammy

And the moment is filled with wishes
for witty retorts and smart ass replies
for this tampered with woman

I wish I had said
I know him from Middle Path
and the Milky Way at Oak Grove Cemetery

I know him from the smell of the storm
that blew through on July 15, 1996,
from the making of two

I know him from his hand gently
unfurrowing my pained brow in
emergency rooms

I know him from the octopus incident,
from the abducted fire bellied toad,
from fallen down tree

I know him from the lapping of Erie
under the Dipper, from the unfinished,
from forced admissions, from obvious mistakes

I know him from permanent scars,
from red hot meteors, from shifting theories,
from drops of truth and old failures

But instead in my shock all I manage is
“That man is my husband. And I wrecked a
boat with him.”

I release her wet hand leaving her on the
tile floor of a bathroom in the Westin
while I wonder how she came to be unfinished

And under the influence of the notion
that one can obtain a person
and consume him.



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