Melissa Balmain


When I have fears that I may cease to be
I get my sperm stored cryogenically.

O! My luve's like a red, red rose.
He should've put more sunblock on his nose.

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Thou Twitter tweet, thou make'st me look insane.

A host of golden daffodils
Gave me rhinitis. I took pills.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun--
But wait until her laser treatment's done!


Someday I'll do it: straighten all my closets
and purge those vests from 1993,
scrub tile and grout of mineral deposits,
arrange my spices alphabetically.
I'll find the puzzle pieces that need finding,
repair my Penguin classics, page and binding,
then polish every doorknob till it's blinding.

My photographs? At last I'll organize them.
My shrubbery? I'll finally cut it back.
I'll wax the table scratches to disguise them,
hang every poster, painting, pennant, plaque.
I'll give my rhododendrons hits of acid,
file pamphlets on Lakes Tupper, George and Placid,
re-stuff each quilt and pillow that's gone flaccid.

And when I've done it all--when, to perfection,
I've finished off the items on my list,
when not a speck of dust awaits detection,
and not a squeaky door hinge has been missed,
and not a scrapbook scrap remains unpasted,
and not a seam's un-finished or un-basted,
I'll die, my final year completely wasted.

Alumni Parade

The oldest, first:
lips slack or pursed,
they play their parts
in chauffeured carts
as watchers cheer.
Each palsied wave
implies a brave
"At least I'm here."

Then--sturdier, perhaps,
and gamely skipping naps--
inch stooped alumni who
once ran and sauntered through
these maple-shaded lanes.
Their pants and socks hiked high,
and graying sons close by,
they hum half-lost refrains.

Slowly the ranks begin to swell.
The next group's hale enough to yell
a football chant, their spines less bent,
their sleeves less frayed, their smiles less spent.
Row by marching row, heads sprout
more hair while canes and walkers vanish.
Earlobes shrink. Wives look less mannish.
Sneakers are in; bifocals, out.

Coeds appear--the few who first enrolled,
then dozens, hundreds. Costumes grow more bold:
kilts, spacesuits, pirate gear, Hawaiian shirts.
Offspring morph from high-school jocks and flirts
to infants drooling on a mother's dress,
while parents shed their double chins and paunches
and gain gazelle-like sets of tennis haunches.
The babies shrink to stomach bumps, then less.

Now come the newlyweds, now caffeinated mobs
of sharp-faced ladder climbers married to their jobs,
now squinting postgrads with unfortunate goatees--
and finally, the ones who lounged beneath the trees
and eyed the rest while keeping their appraisals blunt:
fresh-baked alums from this year's graduating class.
They stroll, untroubled as the minutes pass and pass,
convinced they'll never be like those old farts up front.


Melissa Balmain's new poetry collection, Walking in on People, was chosen by X.J. Kennedy as the winner of the 2013 Able Muse Book Award. Her poems and prose have appeared, or are forthcoming, in American Arts Quarterly, Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, McSweeney's, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, The Spectator, and Success, where she is a columnist. She edits Light, an online journal of light verse, www.lightpoetrymagazine.com, and teaches writing at the University of Rochester. For more of her work, visitwww.melissabalmain.com.


Melissa Balmain
Judith Barrington
Meredith Bergmann
Jane Blanchard
Cally Conan-Davies
Barbara Lydecker Crane
Mary Cresswell
Rebekah Curry
Anna Evans
Marcene Gandolfo
Claudia Gary
Gwen Hart
A. J. Huffman
Kathryn Jacobs
Geneva Kachman
Joan Mazza
Susan McLean
Sally Nacker
Janice D. Soderling
A. M. Thompson
Cara Valle
Marly Youmans
Seree Zohar


>We are pleased to announce that Anne-Marie Thompson is the recipient of the Mezzo Cammin scholarship at the West Chester University Poetry Conference and Wendy Sloan is the recipient of The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project scholarship.

Judith Schaecter: I found the beauty of stained glass to be the perfect counterpoint to ugly and difficult subjects. Although the figures I work with are supposed to be ordinary people doing ordinary things, I see them as having much in common with the old medieval windows of saints and martyrs. They seem to be caught in a transitional moment when despair becomes hope or darkness becomes inspiration. They seem poised between the threshold of everyday reality and epiphany, caught between tragedy and comedy.

My work is centered on the idea of transforming the wretched into the beautiful--say, unspeakable grief, unbearable sentimentality or nerve wracking ambivalence, and representing it in such a way that it is inviting and safe to contemplate and captivating to look at. I am at one with those who believe art is a way of feeling ones feelings in a deeper, more poignant way.

I would describe my process as derived almost entirely from traditional techniques in use for centuries. The imagery is predominantly engraved into layers of glass; only the black and yellow are painted and fired on in a kiln. The pieces are soldered together in a copperfoil and lead matrix.
32 Poems
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Women's Poetry Listserv
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