Lynn Melnick

Green and Golden

I was warned more about rattlesnakes
than anything I actually lived with

(they rarely bite)

so I memorized the diagram
imagined running, knew intimately

the gruesome belt snap before leather hit my skin

couldn’t stop who could

welt me

and, oh, that?
that’s just a pit viper, spell it, venom, spill it —

we played in alleys and it was good, clean fun and

someone had a yard (affection, branches, not mine)

with a wooden swing but I got so scared up there
I accidently pissed on it

(dishonor, dismay)
no wonder

I’m back counting empties
lining them up for the boys to bowl

(tarmac, blacktop, lonesome)

Lynn Melnick is the author of Landscape with Sex and Violence (forthcoming, October 2017) and If I Should Say I Have Hope, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation. A 2017-2018 fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.