Today's poem is by Melissa Koosmann

Dishonest Elegy for a Sentimental Mood


The mosquitoes came out
with the first storm and stayed.

All the time, the heat.

On the stoop, my attention ticks
from you to clouds

to the dips and tucks of birds
eating we don't know what in the mesquite.

They're so beautiful. So.


I dreamed you were a murderer
and you were after me,

I say to a friend. He laughs,

then opens a can of beer, licks the spray
from his hands, and hurries to tell his wife.

Last night his magic burned out
every light in my cottage

and held my inside. He placed
the head of a corpse—eyes hacked out—

at my front door,
and when at last I broke

his spell and ran for the cops,
he cleaned up the blood

and hung up a clown's head
made of papier mâché.

I woke up terrified.

I drank a glass of water, peed, walked
around to check

that the locks were locked and I was alone.

I brought a toy sword with me to bed.

This at least was genuine.


I wake up wanting sugar, still
webbed in a dream,

kicking my legs like two storm branches
to untwist the sheet

I tied myself with in my sleep.
I've seen a film about fires,

and now I think I could leap from a window
if a spout of flames pursued me.

This is my morning pattern:
I never think first of real life.


We pass the birds again.

Earlier their down puffed up
in the cool air that rushed

out the door of the bar
they lay dead in front of, their necks

like small fingers curved in sleep.

They've been trampled since then.
Sidestepping the mess, I say

how delicate they looked before.

I wish they'd been stepped on sooner,
someone says. This joke is meant for me:

I'm the one who won't eat meat.

They're just birds.


What do you ever get to keep?

His body is shaped like David by Michelangelo.

At the door now, his posture

suits him, skin gently

outlined, hair somehow gold.


My father used tell my brother
and me about milksnakes

hiding their gleaming

skin in the grass outside a barn:

the cows gave milk in the mornings,
then went to pasture

and came home dry each night.
The farmer couldn't say why

until the day he noticed the milksnakes
bobbing from every udder,

sipping a bit each time a cow
took a step.

This was a lie we loved.


Sweat dries on my face and arms.
I dip my salt fingers in pools

shaped like rings on the table.

Outside, plants move

in the foul
wind cast off by speeding cars,

and of course there's beauty

in the twisting leaves,
subject to force

but persistently random, gracefully

wild. Stay.

Copyright © 2005 Melissa Koosmann All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   Publications Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved