New Poetry, Fiction, Essay

4 poems by Melissa Mulvihill

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.


A Silence Necessary

Night mumbled them
and whispered them
softening the ending of the day
the steady hum
of the settling
of the lulling
of the myth of being
conclusively protected
in the calm consistency of them
while you lingered,
for that first encounter, a trespassing
when you peeled me back
and emptied me
smothering my narration
so my words no longer
fit my lips
and my room
a bleak
cell of revelation
became exposed territory for me
at such a young age
you came with a great dark
clamor and commotion
a bare disquietude
interrupting me
when I was left awake
with you
after they put the house to sleep
and then themselves
before sleep had claimed me
you unsealed me
blathering unintelligibly
until the morning greyed the din
hushing me and defining our speaking terms
now you come
lacking stealth and with permission
a silence necessary
unmasking me and prying
the myth of conclusivity
from my hands finger by finger


Fingerprint Failure

I narrate each word
as if it will vanish
without a trace then steal my heart
from here or weight my will
with cares too heavy
for this path I tread

If memory crowns a human’s venture
then loss of it fills an angry grave and deepens darkness

When I lapse my cupped hands trail
the Lethe
the sweet waters tempting me
with the drink of Unmindfulness

When amnesia steals my recollection
I will lose love that might remain with remembrance
should Mnemosyne hear me cry
while under the power of reason still
like a woman mourning
sagging skin or fingerprint failure
I shun the forgetting of ills
the rest from sorrow
the elimination of my narration
Muses, have mercy
I own these tales.


When the New People Came

When the new people came
my box painstakingly packed and labeled with the threat
Touch This and Perish
full of words I wasn’t done using yet
words that stuck to me
begging for me to find the meaning
sought asylum
any haven
among the detritus
the piles of self-replicating hangars
the lidless Rubbermaid containers
the socks and hats no one ever wears
the substance of survival
a matrix for participation
but not of existence
trailed behind us
leaking from us for months
into ever shifting piles

When the new people came
drawers were cleared of cries and calls
sorted to donate or to keep
as I sobbed
and breathed the scent of Brogan clinging to a
GAP 4T sweatshirt I found shoved behind
the shattered drawer of the changing table
warped and dinged with
resolutions I cling to still
When the new people came
there scrapped by the side of the road
were the sliced up 4 feet by 4 feet remains
of carpeting stained with Eamon’s blood
a monument in defense of letting kids learn
to handle sharp pointy things
and adult things silly and destructive
needing to be hauled away to
the cemetery of illusions
that you can manufacture a child
that normalcy is peace
that someone will tell you the way

When the new people came
our shelves had given over
unpolluted remembrances
without blot or contamination
grains of sand, shark’s teeth, postcards, hundreds of fossils
sanctuaried and padded by the four
handmade blankets crafted by the Women’s Guild
for kids hospitalized at Christmas
for our kid who fought off campaigns of hostile takeovers
by domainless viruses
by misdiagnosis
by medication side effects

When the new people came
our walls were bare
exposed and that jagged hole in the upstair’s drywall
from the hard-plastic oversized hippo
I chucked
in anger over my insufferable inadequacies
had vanished
mended and remedied
understanding the need to retreat
rather than to fight
left scars though
and a hard memory

When the new people came
our rugless hallways creaked
unfamiliar messages
echoey and sticky with paint
the scent of our soap and our food and candles
and our sheltered seasons
crammed in the oily garage
stacked and labeled like you can
ever name a life
or gather it
or accumulate it
or capture it

When the new people came
my Roses of Sharon
witness to 4 am nursings of all kinds
eavesdropper to hot tub convos under Orion
victim of airsoft wars
supervisor of the time the shed nearly burned down
consoler during the death of my beloved willow
bystander while I didn’t lie but
made the truth
begged me to be resolute

When the new people came
the wooden stairway railing worn smooth
and warm under our grasps
Held me steady for the last ascent
the last descent released my hand a final time
while my husband urged me to leave
admitting that we could not complete
the move in one day
we were laying in piles everywhere
I was sent on

When the new people came
I was gone
fumbling around in the new darkness
for light switches
for boxes of extension cords
for bags of goldfish
in rooms with no memories of us
and wads of cat hair
free floating everywhere
a flashlight in my hand
My Touch This and Perish
box under my arm
and nothing more than
my name
in my mouth.


Probably Confabulations

On the shores of Lang Lake
my words are submerged and suffocated.

Intimations, declarations, and probably confabulations too are all
murdered after a slow-motion fall through the slats of the dock.

One bounce and then I am howling in grief, agonizing over the fatality
of my phone and an entire year’s worth of attention paying.
The ministrations
from mouth breathers come, pointing out my cyber stupidity.
Did you back it up?
Is there anything more useless than guys when a woman is in need of
shedding tears of Denial?
On my knees, face pressed against the slats of the dock, I deal out
sharp tongued Anger and Bargaining in a string of profanity laced threats
summoning some benevolent wilderness scuba diver or really small but
friendly mermaid to rescue what has been eliminated.
Moments of affirmation
Coaxed persuasions
Rumored parleys
Allusions explained
Feuds unsolved
My year was razed, engulfed by water, disannulling, vanquishing
my capacity for forgiveness.
Once the erasure is complete I stew on the deck of our cabin
in the descending darkness welcoming Depression to the
Bargaining Anger party.
The hills silhouetted under the luminous Milky Way echo the
haunting wail of a loon calling for a lost mate.
I never should have gone down that Path to the dock.

My Sacrifice at the bottom of the lake really should be enough
to appease the Netherworld, to quell the raging.
But it is not.
I will never Accept that words can survive Cyberspace
and the loon wails with sorrow until the sun rises.
In the morning I write on paper.

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