THERMOS 9: Melanie Noel

Melanie Noel’s poems captivated me from the first time I heard her read, with editors Andy and Zach at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. Her voice was soft and matter-of-fact, the poems spiderwebby, tense, spare, and full of dazzling, painterly language (“vertical the nightsweat of the trees” was caught in my mind for days after that reading). Her book The Monarchs, available from Stockport Flats, is a gorgeous read, my favorite book of 2013 so far. -JT

[Cloud, damp envelope,]

Cloud, damp envelope,

diarist.                   Imperial cloud.

Cloud that will come tomorrow.

Alien cloud.         From imperial midnight.

Faucet, invisibly on. Invisibly licking

the diaries.             Rain, cloak

& speedway.                     Midnight,

without hands-

The Mews

                 Vertical the nightsweat among branches forcing forth

their green ears. Bone of moon jimmying

the crow’s valiance.

Hello crows, hello! Look there we do

                 at those sighing comics

                                  floating over container ships         the gulls.

                                                   Opera halls both

                 grousing the water’s not oligarchical chamber.

Aye, there, a soft anarchy.

Them, ruffians.

                 I mind you with a metal love.

In the alley no birds but wood plays the bins and a vine drags the bell’s tongue down.


                      Entirely the nun a siren         in my trench of plums

the dead canons’ anti-shimmer calling bouganvilla by jasmine

dying fish     v.     dolphin,              & jasmine,         beggars

at the outskirts of        the heartbeat being climbed out of        Entire at me

     his footman’s eyes         I say: Other peoples’ soft eyes for

            other peoples’ soft eyes        keep it up: accident of my heart:

amateur knot:              bad raft versus      the Vocal flower

The night is widely interrupted            cicada     x       ambulance

           Pale the blood red of rooftops

Sky’s Duration

Rain what wreckage                      interversal coin plucked

from unsullen clouds.                                      But that one retreating

into the mollusk:             Warden of secrets:

the sweet derangements there.


Elm, I had a vision but it would not simplify things.           The shutlet on the lull

made of me a bed and clutch. Clutchlet the flock gendarming impossible birds.

               A trap, tree, and then I held close the string of my tired blood.


The sea stood in him. It recited his name, not unkindly.

A barracks he was to it. It was no place for me but I did not walk away.


Arrowheads are sequestered and lost in the organized field. They point in every direction

                   drugged compasses of just-underneath. They line up like language trying-to-recall.


Straight lines do not come by themselves lightly.

They measure infinity.

They are a surfeit of vistas.

Bloodline on the horizon, for example, swallowed by the sea and then that place above,

                                               a burrow bending in the clouds.


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