width=61 height=87> Varied Voices
Featured Poems


Melissa Dalman

Things You Press

Look at me now, so pretty

and so bright.  Nevermind 

that I am brittle, a jaded girl

with skin soft to look at

but so dry it crumbles at your touch.


I am no shy little violet, no baby

rose or easy, silken butterfly.


I'm a girl trapped inside

a gift from you, an emptiness

that wraps itself around me like cellophane.


I'm not an Easter lily, or a daisy

for that matter.


This is to you, my dark singer, carrier 

of evenings and moonlight and art.

You did this to me; you made me frail.

You spread your suffocation on my body.

You made me into someone else.


You folded me into a book

and put me on a shelf.

 2005 Melissa Dalman

Ordinary Things

She peels off her day, slip, brassiere, panties, layers 
nurtured for an audience.  At the open window she strips 
off nylons, the cross at her neck, flings hairpins 
onto her bureau then leans naked over the sill, 
and stares down into the city.  In its bat blackness and stark

white lights, blinking, she balls up her stockings and takes aim. 

Below, a man snatches a sheer-dangled 
leg, rips the ghost of her foot as it catches 
on the dumpster's open gap. 
He sniffs the remnants of her ordinary day; 
ankles crossed under a desk, imagined feet clacking

on pavement as she runs.   She wears a pink scarf flared 

at the throat as she tries to make the bus, her heel slipping

in and out of her toe.

This man has stumbled across the history of a woman's foot 
scribbled to the quickened draw of his lip,   
upward to nostril.  

His pulse quickens as she turns out the light.

2005 Melissa Dalman