Judy Melchiorre


At Hollywood Cemetery
worn stones
smudged engravings
in harmony with fall
of leaves-saffron and umber,
grass surrenders
the last of its dun
as summer declines

Darkness stretches
its full length
spirits shake dirt
and speak in a language
only heard by those
who dare
to press their ears
to the veil


By the seventh day
I had slept in four different beds,
in four different cities.
Journeys rimmed in salt.

streets saturated
by sheets of rain,
curbs clouded.
Where to place a foot?
Cast snake eyes–

Who will lay a sign
for the unremembered?


Flags fly on July 4th
invitations like arrows
through the mail.
She begged to decline, he insisted,
when they arrive, his arm binds her waist.
He wears a crisp navy suit,
she, a sparkly dress;
her toes captive
to stilettos, impaled
in clots of green.
He shoulders her through,
hard pinch to mute her voice.
A soft-bowed brim shadows
her eyes—green-blue-and-purple

He collected her like a doll;
boxed her.

Author’s Note

Recently, on the morning of my husband’s surgery, I awoke early. I did not feel like myself, but I drove him to the hospital and waited all day. Finally, he was ready. I bundled him into the car.

I tried to take the best care of him. I slept on the couch to be near him. Strange dreams in odd shapes came to me. I dreamt a long time—days spun by. I did not speak, I had nothing to say.

I decided to go to the ER. They did many tests and I waited till the end of the week for the results. They found nothing.

I am a bit better now, but not my memory. I cannot remember words, I cannot complete crossword puzzles, and I cannot write.

That is the saddest part. What will I do without my poetry? Tears well. What will I do without my words?

Judy Melchiorre is a poet based in Richmond, Virginia, and is a member of River City Poets, James River Writers, Poetry Society of Virginia, and Poetry Society of New York. Her poems have appeared in Streetlight Magazine, Poetry Quarterly and two anthologies. She co-edited River City Poets, Lingering in the Margins. Judy continues to be a substitute teacher for high school students. She lives with her husband, one ornery cat and two snuggly dogs.