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Two Audio Poetry Performances: Toxic and You Are Music

Melinda Smith

Editorial note from Janice Leagra: I don’t remember how I first connected to Melinda on Twitter, but I remember seeing one of her tweets where she shared a video of herself singing and playing her guitar and I became an instant fan. Then when she started sharing herself reading her poetry, set to music she created, I knew immediately I wanted to feature her in Janus’s Editor’s Showcase. I find her poems to be personally resonant and she has a voice made for reading aloud. I love that she has blended her talents for writing and making music into one project. Be sure to visit Melinda’s site to hear more of her original, creative work: https://iambicbeats.bandcamp.com/.

“Toxic” by Melinda Snith

The dopamine crashes
On the cortical shore
Of my homeland where reason clashes
With need, logic fights
With desire
Pulling like a rabid dog bound by chains
I know I shouldn’t love you
Shouldn’t see you smell you taste you
Feel you
In the crevices of every breath
But I do so help me
God I do

What poison are you?
What absolute and utter ecstasy, this high
Of feeling like the world was created just for me, like
The universe exploded
Emanating from a single point, one
Dimension with the singular purpose of writing
Out my name in stars
Nebular clouds of ink spilling forth
As it exploded into planets and asteroids and, yes,
Leaving black holes as a portent
To remind us that it can’t all be stars

But I didn’t listen
I didn’t listen and now
The secrets of everything are scrawled across my skin like scars
From scalding water, reminders of melted flesh
Tattoos that fade into each other and I can’t read them anymore
What is ink and what is stardust, can you tell me the difference?

No, you can’t
Because you’re the ghostwriter, busy weaving
The tall tale into my bones
The one that ends with me being happy and complete
Wanted
Understood
But it’s just fiction, and fiction is
The cry from the empty mouth
That blasphemy once kissed
Take your needle and ink of honey
And sell your dopamine fix in the next town, run
Your fingers along
Someone else’s spine
Tell anyone but me
That they’re worthwhile to love and dance with
Them among the stars to the waltz of lo-fi cosmic background
And gravitational waves
That translate my tachycardic pleas
Into real words that anyone can hear

But most of all, no matter what
Never forget what Orion said as he hung his belt
By the door, when he knew
That hunting was wrong after all
Don’t you remember?
He told us of the satyr who caught an arrow to the heart
And lay bleating and bleeding, spilling
Secrets of God all over Orion’s shrinking hands
And the hunter just sat and cried, he
Said he couldn’t tell what was blood and what was truth, he
Told us never, but never to kill each other again
But here’s the real secret behind those words
Killing is the same as loving, he whispered at last
And none of us will make it out alive

But it’s just poetry, you said
It’s not as though it’s the truth
And I told you that there’s nothing more
True ever thought or written than the blood of bards
And that satyr was right
No death could be sweeter than love
And now I know everything
All the subtext and the context written in the contrails

So please, stop allowing me to breathe you in
Because as soon as you sink behind the rings of Saturn
I’m just a satyr myself, hunted
Until my two halves are ripped apart into fur and flesh
But that dopamine teases like raw steak
And the hound in me pulls at that chain for more


“You Are Music” by Melinda Smith

Remember when I painted you
In notes?
Recreated everything about you
In four four time?
Of course you don’t
You weren’t there
But you were
All over the place
In rhythms and fingertips
And syncopated missteps

Remember the time
My face got red
You called it a blush
And it made you smile
But red is the color of lust
Of want
Of fire
It’s the melody of
me pretending I have
Any sort of barriers
To loving you completely and breathlessly
Kissing your neck with harmonies
The real kind
Not this music I make
These clumsy tunes
These dying prayers
Of a forgotten animal
The kick and the snare that fade
When there’s nothing left inside me

No, your song is a real one
With lyrics
And a bridge
Chord progressions that make sense
And it makes me wonder if you remember
The time I painted you with notes

But you’re too far to hear me now
Forever on the other side of the Mobius


Inspired by everything from atoms to galaxies, Melinda creates poetry, prose, music, video and art. She seeks to produce works that break perceived barriers between categories like science and emotion. In her latest project—Iambic Beats—she crafts immersive electronic music around spoken word poetry. Iambic Beats is a project of the people: to date, her albums feature pieces from 11 other poets and she hopes it continues to grow. Visit Melinda’s music site: Iambic Beats and follow her on Twitter: @ScienceGeekMel.