Dreaming Bears

June 7, 2010 at 3:25 am (Uncategorized)

He got me out. My dream bear,
our story, how I followed
his pine-strewn wake, my own
feet in his lotus dustprints.

I wanted momentum. And
direction, out of the thicket.
His lunge into bushes
ripe for my untangle,

his huge jaws on rodents
that I would dissect.
And each green time,
I crept behind

his twig-snap startle,
launching leaf storms,
wondering, would he turn
on me. Meanwhile,

safe in his unsafe
shambling, his broad shadow.
His pine-strewn wake
leaves a trail. Waiting his pivot.

By Melissa Sillitoe
March 2010 / Portland, OR


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poem: Painting Water

January 11, 2010 at 4:22 am (Uncategorized)

Painting water


When color returned, not words,
I drove Oregon, let elms lead
past heartbreak ferns,
two-lane postcards,
moss-encrusted turns.

Slow silver currents,
mosquito-stained sea and sky.
Streets pool their gray
distance, 600 miles beyond

desert gods their heat
locust rattle beat
raw umber downpour.

In Oregon, water holds,
above and below.


Portland. Sunset wears pastel, tourists too.
We wear river’s palate:
espresso, charcoal, faded blue.
Write beneath dogpark
canopy. Forget ocean’s hyperbole,
unlikely promises, implied eternity,
add conjunctions, fake irony.
Oh, these clever clever trees!


Don’t say anything. I won’t believe.
That year, dumbstruck
on road’s shoulder, Oregon won.
Sea-light resists metaphors.

I mix chromatic black,
oblivion’s absence,
one ringing chord.
Dark’s light,
5 a.m. blues. Water.
Trees point up, purple ripe
in pregnant light.
I paint: almost, always.

By Melissa Sillitoe
January 2010 / Portland, OR

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9 Horton Road, Hackney, London

November 16, 2009 at 1:28 am (Uncategorized)

9 Horton Road, Hackney, London

My house swap: 30 days in overwrought May, overripe
cobblestone sticky with sediment and dry white petals,
I traded rivers, didn’t I?, borrowed Heather’s housemates,
her pink bedroom and lover’s photos. I lived outside
beginnings and endings, circled daily
from Hackney to London Bridge
for no reason, via #48, upstairs. I have no story.

I make believe knowing where I am I am
no one’s, never with, and never alone,
eyes behind sunglasses or borrowed book I hold
my own American words–no one cares–
safe in notebook. Step past and between
conversations, zipped backpack, no exposed pockets.
Bus lurches to its stop. I disembark.

Say in English, sorry sorry sorry.
Am I? No. I never am,
am I then, luve? Sorry.
And for what, and to whom?
Him or you?

Petals traced with one finger,
letters left on your borrowed back,
I don’t take back.

By Melissa Sillitoe
November 2009 / Portland

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poem: any green day unfolds pink

June 10, 2009 at 11:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Maybe you’re right,
colorblind and right,
these indigo leaves
I call turquoise
are summerlit green. We guess.
At sundown, we’ll see true.

So, these roses we don’t choose,
we name their hues? Red?
I’ll tell you later. We pick
petals and thorns. Maybe.
Maybe I choose to believe.

And you’re right, camellias
bloom in an iris. We don’t show
what shuteyes hold. All I know:
what stays, eyes closed?
Stickybud twig, leaf to oak,

sparrowsong. Your birdbeat wrist.
Maybe I name sunlight.
Maybe I believe
white lies. I mean, I know
we’ll die. You know it, too.
Soon. Now: Eden!

What can we do? Goldedged
day falls from sky’s beak. Any
green day unfolds pink. All we need.

By Melissa Sillitoe

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poem: miles later, I don’t know why I looked up

June 10, 2009 at 11:08 pm (Uncategorized)

In a dark time, the eye begins to see
–Theodore Roethke
Eyes adjust to starless nights.
I don’t know why I looked up
somehow I began
Clumsy sleepwalk
past dim-lit days
spent outside seasons,
let each clear night
convince. Yes,
daylight follows. Again. Still,

I might have looked down,
as usual, and missed it.
Autumn. My first.
No trick of light
that glowing ember sky
when one sunbeam
struck. It stuck.
Now, miles later, I don’t
know why I looked up.
No leaving-dark gust
shook leaves from me
when I caught fire.

Above, birdtrill
startled my dreams.
Gold fell
from open handed trees.

I know just this:
all I had was gone, all I
did not dare hope waited.
No. More. Trees,
where, everywhere,
bled for me, in spite of me.

By Melissa Sillitoe

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poem: breaking surface

June 10, 2009 at 11:07 pm (Uncategorized)

broke the dream of surface-
and gasped for air-
i fell
and realized i was dying
when eyes no longer served as
metaphor.”–Rick J

Age six, still piscean,
water-coaxed and pixie-led,
bored on blue-tiled land,
inhaling chlorine and faith,
I first dangled
toes in deep:

what waited:
transparent sky.
Why resist?
I let go,
slipped beneath, fell
past warning, applause.

So easy, that immense seduction,
my blue-tiled solid landing.
I could see, but no voice
buoyed daytime night.

Did I hold my breath?
The forbidden, heaven,
waited at my feet, and
god was not above, but beneath.
When rescue arrived,
navy trunks and outstretched arms,
I choked. The spell broke.

These days, I know how:
cautious surrenders,
my dead-man-floats.
I’ll close my eyes, mid-dive.
I’ll propel past unnecessary skies.
It doesn’t matter. I am still there,
nine feet above no control,
and now, treading water,
make-believing roots,
I dream of dissolve, not flight.

By Melissa Sillitoe
December 2008 / Portland, OR

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poem: Stargazing at age 37

June 10, 2009 at 11:05 pm (Uncategorized)

Tonight. So unromantic and farfetched, my friend,
stargazing in prickly allergenic grass, short walk
from cedar-scented campfire.

No blanket needed—we adapt.
And when cliche stars flicker, burn,
inevitable we ask:
does love burn, fall, smolder?
Yes, all the above. Love. I dare you.

Trace stories with your finger, these
words I won’t skywrite or say,
all we know of peril and rescue,
gourds that point true north. These

silver patterns that led us here, star by star,
not guessing tonight’s view,
so unlikely, impossible: light-year glow
illuminates tonight!

And they simmer,
constellations. However
sky tilts, I find them all.
There’s just one, one of each
one we love. Just one.

Do we wish when bodies fall? I do. Look up,
you know why we’re here, you know we
want this light. Don’t deny,
don’t deny, don’t deny. We fall, burn,
meteor-scarred from when sky fell last.

It is all, this silver, it is everything, lying back. This letting.

By Melissa Sillitoe
June 2007 / Portland OR

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poem: Falling

June 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm (Uncategorized)

When did the falling start? I don’t know,,
but I freefell every day–it lasted years.
I mention it now because I know you know
what it’s like to be windbruised,
the jerk of barely catching yourself,
that dizzy stopping without landing.
I fell a long way before I stopped.

Look up. No one else is falling.
The world is no wind tunnel,
but moist yellow grass, grayrain sky,
and the people you fell past,
whose eyes you missed,
are not holding still.

Just for now,
see what stays and is real:
trees that hold on,
flowers that push back,
a bee’s short hops,
blossom to blossom.

by Melissa Sillitoe

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poem: Bedtime Story

June 10, 2009 at 11:03 pm (Uncategorized)

Poem: Bedtime Story for a New Lover
Love, it’s always like this:
waiting for sky-shift,
half-believing first-wish stars!
Soon, silver pause
brings sparrow’s usual song.
We hum this dusky lullaby
by heart. Here again,
in between. You know what I mean.

And ghosts snared
in azure light
pace moonstained floors.
I keep my arms inside. There’s
no forcing daylight, but
God knows I’ve tried.
When it’s right,
some hand nudges sky.

I can sing what you like, whatever helps,
when moonlight burns your eyes.
I can’t break your fall.
I can’t promise we won’t dream.

And it’s true, it’s all real,
this room too bright for starlight
or easy sleep.

If I turn, will you push
me out of waking dreams?
I want sky to crush me
but you’ll do. Don’t let me move.

By Melissa Sillitoe

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poem: Ashes

June 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm (Uncategorized)


Night. Today’s journey dissolves:
what seemed scenic,
what seemed solid,
what distracts.
What’s left, our words
and half-seen faces,
fits inside campfire ring.
We sit close, beneath phantom trees.

We let tonight burn,
oblivious, almost, to its heat
except when I move
away from you
so I can breathe.
I notice how
choking-pine smoke
follows you,
and I don’t say so.
What else do we carefully ignore?

Easy to step back into shadow, still fire-warmed,
knowing tent waits, imagine
life without your harbor-arms,
while wrapped in your jacket.
Too many stars. I practice
remembering their names.

By Melissa Sillitoe
Portland, OR / February 2009

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