Melissa Fondakowski’s work has appeared in several magazines and journals including Santa Clara Review, Lodestar Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review and Girlfriends magazine. A 22-page chapbook of her poetry entitled Impatiens was the winner of the 2001 Sow’s Ear Review Poetry Chapbook Competition and was published in 2002. She lives in Oakland and blogs at Poet With a Day Job.
Limpid spring rains, a bumble
and the proximity of another tree;
sun, time and thumbs to pinch
the plum curculio before she oviposits
into the crescent-shaped cut
on the green globe.
Many hands make this Red
Delicious, who is herself
a hand in bringing breath
to animals, water to the table
and a bee to The Rapture,
its sugar-heavy wing beat
tree to shining tree the key
to bringing forth apples.
The alarm goes and it’s another day
about me. I hit the snooze pretending
not to hear, pretending I think
of others; what will I do today
to be of service, find a purpose?
Oh, please just five more minutes
for my troubles.
When it goes again the numbers
reflect a reality I cannot deny:
the only thing I have time left to do
is pour cat food and sweep my hand
three times down her rich black back
and water the plants. I tire
already at how much I have to do
to keep everyone happy.
And then I hear the brash honk of a Harpo horn
and rush to the door to find the source
of this circus noise, expecting to see
a dawn of clowns rolling
down the block, waving
big foam fingers at me, shouting to the rooftops-
Get up, Melissa! This is a day to
partake in the delights of man!
They don’t know how afraid I am
of clowns, how creepy
their powder masques,
their hidden agendas.
But when I get there I find
it is only geese, a pair
of long-necked spartans
stretching effortlessly across my corner
of baby blue sky, sounding perfectly
like pure joy.
6:30 a.m., Farm
The moon looms low and ominous:
a Host in the firmament’s monstrance.
I blow into my cupped hands, footfalls
crunching the season’s first frost.
Frozen crystals shimmer on brittle leaves;
the last squashes in the garden are lost.
Steers on the hillside heave for their hay;
nervous chickens duck and shimmy.
In the shadow of a snowy peak, I break a bale
then scatter a bucket of scratch on the ground.
I turn toward the rising sun and my next chore
and notice the sudden coyote watching me,
two streams of steam blown from his nose
into the morning cold.
My breath catches in my throat
as if faced with my own reflection
and finding it much different
from the one I’ve come to know.
Yards apart we stand,
eye-locked, as if waiting
for some signal or sound to snap us out
of this strange silence
then the coyote simply turns away
and lopes home. A horizon of woodsmoke
cuts the cold promise of winter.
Howling echoes over the boneyard.
on the nightstand…
- The Ten-Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer
- Elephant Rocks, poems by Kay Ryan
- The California General Election voter guide
what inspires you about the fall?
Change. The crispness that hovers in the air. Preparation for what’s to come. I feel very prolific in autumn. I’ve often compared myself to the sugar maple tree: I play all spring and summer, then come Fall, I am at my most creative: my sweetest syrup flows freely into bucket after bucket. By winter, well, I’m ready for movies and hibernation.
what are three constants in your day?
- my morning single-serving french press coffee with heavy cream
- my own personal Pandora Radio station on headphones at work
- my 14-year old cat