Poetry- Melissa Mulvihill

Fata Morgana

I am lost on the Lake
deliberately at sea
tossing about in moody waves
raging in storms of fictive selves
struggling for a
critical angle

ebbing in the middle of my life
suffering from erratic life sources
changes in speed and direction
not steadfast
vanishing occasionally
absconding on the horizon haze

a fata morgana
my light passing
obliquely through
the illusions of
blazing beginnings
and conjured endings

casting about and reeling in
before I come
to naught
dispersed and scattered
unable to gauge
apparent height

remembrances so heartrendingly raw
my breath catches
I choke on
my small eternity
an infinitesimal blip
on a temporary horizon

in the presence of so much
unproven promise
an untamable energy
unconcerned with time
remembering delivers me
while the island on those far shores

my forgetting
dismisses me
moments disintegrate
their traces lost
taking everything
in the end

  • Inspired by West Sister, an island in Lake Erie, that can be seen from the shore occasionally because of the refraction of light


Time Will Spend Us

Time will spend us
Like sands infinitely tiny and forever
Scooped up, held sweaty in fist
Blowing, rolling, grinding down ever towards

the earth
the sea
the forgetful waves

Time will spend us
Like decrepit fingers clutching at the clay
Slumbering, waking, roots shooting forth
Green swaths sparkle, over harvested, logged, dwindling when viewed

from satellites
from planes
from drones

Time will spend us
Like vivid colors drifting, swirling in our oceans
Spilling forth from stomachs of animals
Who nurture, who speak, who remember

where to give birth
where to gather
where to die

Time will spend us
Like drinking water unprotected from
Corporations who are people they say
With invisible chemicals, with wicked greed, with bottom lines to protect

in court
in print
in commercials

Time will spend us
Like amnesiacs who named flowers weeds
Confused religion for facts
Forgetting our history, forgetting our past, forgetting science is

about correcting flaws
about admitting mistakes
about human discovery

Time will spend us
Like pits of waste reeking of run off and protein consumption and ballooning populations
Pumped full of steroids, antibiotics for masses
Saturated with antidepressants, alcohol, and frenzied calendars

wondering what to eat
wondering where to seek relief
wondering about moderate to severe illness

Time will spend us
Like we spent it, in fear, in corrupt blindness, in thick denial
That Proxima Centauri or any other remote star holds our truth
Another earth to be raped, to be pillaged, to be ruined

in ignorance
in exchange for entertainment
in a bargain for convenience

Time will spend us and
The earth will devour us, exhaust us, and reduce us to our smallest parts
Cosmic dust shifting about mingling with background radiation
Until democracy is a memory, until cooperation is an afterthought,

until we are weak
until we are broken
until our stories are forgotten
until science is story
until the enlightenment is myth
until myth is truth
until no one even recalls quarks and leptons
until the carbon cycle is ridiculed as lies
until the air dancing and skimming across the land is magic
until we are at the mercy of ourselves once more
until we concede to men who ordain and declare
until are undoubting that we are the center of the universe
until we are digging up

ancient architecture
battling each other
raising walls
and amassing weapons.


The Mark of the Empty

We are the same species that
banned as heresy at the council of Myassia
the idea of Zero despite humans
flirting with nothingness thousands of years
before in a world of constant change
violently cataclysmic and delicately paced
it is the work of culture to make us feel special
but we are here to bear witness
as material creatures in a material world

We are the same species that
struggled with the allure of absolutes
and our place in infinity
under the limitations of declarations such as
god is in everything that is
and everything that is not is the devil

We are the same species that
sanctioned the illegal and secretive use of zero
the same people able to count the totality
of what is not there
but we cannot manage to respect
the shifting cycles of nature

We are the same species capable
of debating if numbers exist outside the
human mind but we cannot convince the most skeptical
or the ignorant to name the solution set to
making peace with endless permutations of survival

We are the same species who
eons ago carved the ideas of zero
in the temple wall of Gwalior
and who etched the Bakhshali text on birch bark
exploring nothingness

We are the same species who
gave birth to Aczel whose odyssey to Find Zero
led to an old shed at Angkor Conservation that sheltered
a stone stele, K-127, inscribed with
“The Chaka era reached year 605 on the 5th day of the waning moon.”

Maybe the oldest invention of place holding ever found

We are the same species to
name the void then fill it with Descartes and Hawking
but we cannot remember the lessons of learning
by comparison
by empathy
by compassion

We are the same species to
know happiness as the deepest thing
and sadness as the other deepest thing
but we cannot lay hands on
the emptiness left by fear and hate

We are the species gazing
at the unloveliness and inelegance
of ourselves
in increasingly larger numbers that
are not practically countable
not the quality of being 1 or 2 or 3 together
not named as distinct
we are in danger of leaving
nothing but the
Mark of the Empty
to demonstrate on this day in the 8th month
of the 2018 cycle in the age of digital
that we took out an unpayable debt
and defaulted
because we could not hold and name
our place.

About the contributor

I write about moments that demand. My poems can be found at The Blue Nib, The Write Launch, Poet's Haven Digest, Impspired, and the Feminine Collective. I can be found in northeast Ohio where my husband and I are growing two sons and we pace the shores of Lake Erie marveling that our world is not completely inner and not completely outer.

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