January 17-23, 2000: Melissa Benham and Mishan Williamson

week of January 17-23, 2000

Melissa Benhamand Mishan Williamson

Melissa Benham

Bio (auto)

Melissa Benham currently living in san francisco, but originally from New Jersey recently self-published a chapbook: recounted She is finishing up a B.A in creative writing at San Francisco State University, studying under Diane di Prima at the moment

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Melissa Benham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


the owl of your mouth
steeped in quiet

no feathers rustle there
I can see it

black eyed
at 360 degrees

as point of symmetry
the algebra of your face

a collision with animism
hardness of tooth

slight tempered curl
as the beak presses

against the collapsible
shadow of negative space

finding your edges
by what is not there


loud clunk of rain

sliding into gestures

of the crane your hands

glare magnesium white

outside bottles blurred

blue in shards of sulphur

mirrors hanging

from twisted string

at the neck

clinking with the trees

suggestion of sound
.or just after
we’ve got a million invisible
blackbirds between us
the flapping makes
for black edges
a swarm of pauses
swept upward
linking our hands
to bakers and
what to do
with pies
when you’ve got
not much else
besides blackbirds

Mishan Williamson

Bio (auto)

My name is Mishan Williamson I’m a 26 year old student, wife,  mother, and all around fruitcake I live in Alabama (I survive by eating the humid air like it’s manna from heaven) I’m just another would-be writer affected by the heat and the Bible belt The combination of lust and guilt makes for lovely tortured thoughts that plague my mind and pen

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Mishan Williamson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Color of Your Love

Battered sapphires mingle
with shades of plum,
then fades to
a sickly maize
across the ecru canvas of my skin
Would my world were bereft of color These tell tale hues
of painted strokes
you call love.

Aunt Marilola

“A screaming harridan” my uncle called her;
dropping her suitcases
on the front porch He looked sad when he told daddy
he wasn’t coming back Her eyes laughed at him,
but her voice didn’t rise above
the roar of awkward silence he left
when he turned to leave
Mama said not to bother the little bottles
that smelled like her breath;
So I didn’t But sometimes I played with her rings,
watched them dance
pretty colors on the wall
when I waved my hands in the sunlight I saw her fire engine lips
smiling back at me from
the mirror while I played dress up
Aunt Marilola sang Auld Lang Syne
accented with Dixie, and taught me to dance
without moving my feet Her body moved in ways that made me blush She told me the night wind hums a melody
If you listen closely it will teach you its tune I drifted to sleep listening for its song,
hoped it was a good night for singing to the moon
Aunt Marilola swayed next to Daddy,
dancing a symphony in the silver light Daddy told Mama it was just a New Year’s kiss Mama didn’t say anything,
but her eyes had the same look
as Uncle Frank’s
Auntie’s suitcases were back on the front porch She left her shiny rings on the vanity Somehow the colors dancing on the wall don’t
look so pretty anymore
And when the wind cries, 
my feet try not to move.


Teeth sharpened
by holding tight to my secret flesh He splits hairs
between appeasement and torture,
slicing free will
with each incision (who says a honeyed tongue doesn’t cut?)
My taste, sweet and copper-tangy,
drips behind his lips My will begs for mercy,
(chews through all constraint)
and blesses his kneeling face.


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