Melanie Jordan


They kept us and now they've left us.
My marble eye rides blackwater;
prey I can become. Banging on the far wall.
Soon the umbrage of pit and scale, the fur,
the thumbs. The tarsiers founder on snakes
now, but until spring on air I could survive.
I ride this stale water, I am the heir of abiding:
they shook the earth, my oldest ancestors,
they rumble my cold blood still, though
egg-sucking rats and the endless winter
laid them down like logs to die.
So long as the pool was deep enough,
so long as the need was slender,
we got along. So long as
the glass was strong.



His self-portrait not unlike Caravaggio's
face on the decapitated head of Goliath,
Tom Savini blows his own head open
onscreen. One is one's own barbarian.
If the head were off, one could rest, but
one must busy the hands: latex, foam, dye,
Karo syrup and sheep intestines replicate
what's inside:

slogging through muck until
the stumbles on an arm, the young
photographer in Vietnam soon
stumbles over the unspeakable rest,
snaps a photo of the body which

is unbearable thirty years later, but the barrier
lens warded off that dead boy's ghost,
rustling wings in the perimeter, worse.

What is Goliath, hopelessly outnumbered
by history, to do with marrow tableaus?
What is he to do with crabshell brain?
What, when he cheats fable and lives?

What do we do with our temples turned inside out?

Goliath, whose name means passage, incises,
chooses from rows of sculpting tools
for the newest zombie mask, shapes dead eyes,
half a nose, the deliberate craft so much slower
than any photo. The dead face comes all at once,
then the dead boy in the jungle, then the mask
on the stand is someone new. In a year, this new
monster will live onscreen, all goo and rubber
blasted open and bleeding. We must see what he saw,
live with it. He obliges sick fantasy because
he doesn't have to. He wants to work quickly,
methodically, is the self-portrait of the artist,
lucent, in Caravaggio's Taking of Christ, the artist
with dirty fingernails bearing a lantern so
the rest of us can see.



rubberbanded dollars oily
from recounting. A green face
folded in half.

two tampons like lures,

a confetti of pills

(a gap in a smile, nothing
useful fits here)

triple A batteries cribbed
from latchkey tv
(972) 386-4577; the one
I45 motel unbooked
an hour ago
my dumb baby photo
shrunk to fit a fake
gold charm
four Q-Tips;
one Mickey Mouse
the plastic Green Lantern
ring he put on my finger,
laughing, at the zoo
red Swiss Army Knife
its cargo of sad
the sawed-off pencil
cut fishing line, my silver
thread to the door where
I entered the labyrinth





These poems are rooted in the feeling that the world has no safety net. That uneasiness is apparent in "Apocalypse Tacklebox" and in "In the Broken Zoo," which comes from the perspective of one who is part of a new hierarchy. You could say "Special Effects" is my love song to horror movies.