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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Regina O’Melveny



Fleshy blossoms drop
in the scorched
Fourth of July afternoon
like tiny violet birds
hit by buckshot,
or children dropped by heat,
split from loved ones,
crammed on concrete floors
under cold fluorescence.
Asylum seekers
locked in perreras, kennels.

Something spatters
my heart scattershot.
Jacaranda blooms brown
quickly though bees
still enter for nectar.
Listen, the bees drone
the democracy of flowers.
Follow the scent,
the tender center,
make your hands
sepals of prayer.

The Summer Jacket

After a photo by Kikuji Kawada

The jacket once worn
by a middle-school boy
lies flattened and seared by
a large white X,
one of its diagonals a chain-pattern
flung across a fainter line of light,
intersecting where the boy’s
heart would have been.

Other visitors in the museum
move on to photos of scrap metal
from the strike zone,
while I stand in place, silently weep.
My grandson is
three years old.
Maybe the boy in the summer
jacket had twelve or thirteen years.

Boys his age all over Japan
cleared firebreaks
after the U.S. firebombed Tokyo,
days before “Little Boy”
was dropped. That morning
did the boy start to
dig a trench
near the chained gate?

Did he hack at the knotweed
surrounding his house?
Did he plan
to take his little sister
down to
the mochi shop afterwards
to get a chilled sweet?

One button on his jacket
is missing, one pocket gone.
Other scorch marks, a line, triangle,
broken whirligig splotch his jacket.
I can almost hear him
in the threads of his summer,
the sleeves of his days.
The boy could be my own.


Regina O’Melveny has been published in various literary magazines including The Bellingham Review, rattapallax, and Barrow Street. A long poem, Fireflies, won the Conflux Press Award and was issued as an artist’s book designed by Tania Baban. Her poetry collection Blue Wolves featuring her assemblages, won the Bright Hill Press award. Little, Brown and Company published her novel The Book of Madness and Cures, listed as one of six best historical novels of 2012 by NPR. Conflux Press published two chapbooks, New and A Secret, and her most recent chapbook other gods won a prize from the Munster International Poetry Center in Ireland. Her most recent full-length book of poetry, The Shape of Emptiness, was published by Sheila-na-gig Press.

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