View Archives by:


Why Our Apartment Should Become My Apartment Again

Melissa Barrett

Because it feels like we're buying inventory now for a Radio Shack that we’ll open
        in the future
Like we're behind the argyle chainlink that separates this week from next and none
        of us can climb
Because, and let's be honest, the whole thing is really just a horseshoe we found and
        taped string to
’Cause we couldn't afford the harp 
It's the tragedy of timeshare: the family before us must have taken the
        Scrabble board
Because in each of your eyes there is one shred of pink confetti, and confetti
        has a life of only seconds before it’s swept off
Or dead under the couch—because sometimes, coming home to you
Is like coming home to an empty house with the fridge door left open, and the
        freezer, too, with dinner and dessert
Sliming toward the dog's mouth, only: we don't have a dog
Because you wanted to braid its hair and I wanted a greyhound
So we have candles, and every time I burn one, I open the windows and let the
        trees take the smell on their branches like scarves, because
We can't keep relying on vanilla bean to cover this

This is the decade after the Renaissance and we're a stammering fermata
We're the estrangement of a cat's expression when held before a mirror
We're spreading earthquake glue on the sidewalk in the middle of a hailstorm
We're like 24-hour banking: convenient, but . . .
Thematically, we don't go together
You're the subject-lines quarantined in my e-mail spam folder
You're the purple wall in the bathroom, and I'm the yellow one in the home office,
        or vice versa, and what's a wall to another wall?
Because I feel like we're trying to fly a flag made from saran wrap, like
We're listening to a testimony from the most verbose man ever
Who has a beard—with food in it
It's a bit like the one illuminating tile in a sod floor, or contacts for glass eyes, like
        haircuts for fur coats or fur coats just in general
This is pointless, this is a patch of phlox
Yearning along the frame of a black & white movie
This is changing the part in my grandfather’s hair and he’s four-fifths comb-over 
Sharing a bathroom with you is like writing an award-winning essay on what it means
        to be black and gay and underwater
Because there's a ring in the toilet and I’m trying to flush it down
’Cause your breath in the morning is like long division

Stringent open house, this is the unexplored attic of a cartographer's mansion,
        it's that point
In the night when the sky clears its throat, rubs away the black and waits for the
        pink sweat of eraser-head to bring in the morning
It’s that point in the set when the bile-green chanteuse tips off the stage corner
        toward my
Lonely table: microphone stand slicing her legs while my irrevocable fingertips
        drum, etiolate
I: fragrant bouquet of flagrant carelessnesses, no heels can ride me back to where
        I was with
You: pure as unicorns
The first time I lay at the end of the bed and saw how tall you were
Inside, where I crouch and fret, waiting for the latch to fill with key
Warm and scuffed—its nickled head punching through your back pocket all afternoon
Like a peninsula, fighting the urge to drop

Melissa Barrett

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems