"Everybody In!" and Other Poems by Lynn Melnick

by Mark Bibbins, Editor


What’s left open but booze and pin-up,
a generator humming that called your car to park.

We’re finished with beauty: inner beauty, sloppy beauty, my beauty.
Once upon a time you fashioned a collapse

and called it us, what we would have called living
had there been less cocaine.

Is rage what felled the power line, what strapped us to these seats?
Truth is, you did love me more.

We’re close enough to home to die here, and I have known you too long
to wither flashlit in the passenger seat.

How long will you plead me brute and fearless,
when each time I stop just before dawn.

Everybody In!
It’s not much of a lie to say I hate the outdoors.
Something about discomfort.

But it’s a lie when I say that I don’t, spitting
on my arm to rub off the layers, what failed to wash.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,
but if I were asked again I’d say, Let’s skip

the hot drive down, the mockingbird, the digging,
cold coffee with radical strangers, fellow Americans,

wrong-headed love, dunes, rocks, retro round eyewear,
nudity, big ideas, destitute children,

overwhelming stucco suburbs, dubious rafts,
cold waiting, makeshift dinners, communal bathrooms,

piles of quarters, and all the lying.
I spent one hundred dollars on a camera that would document this.

Is there a California I don’t know about?
Smaller, I finished a day floating after everyone left the pool.

There was barking and laughter. I can’t tread water,
but I can master flotation to save myself.


Here it’s so hot we burn without sunlight:
a misstep on the pavement, purple-faced and heaving.

Here is winning up ahead, extra-everlasting
what winning there is! Here water spouts dazzle

fixed to music overwhelming, and it overwhelms.
Here most flesh is overflesh mammoth or rawhide

crawling aswarm. Example: “Do you think
that girl will dance with me?” Answer: “Go for broke!”

So follow an aspect to the bottom with silver,
say we are lesser. In legend we are lesser. Here

there is no fervor anymore if ever there was, only
wholly dazed craving. We are catastrophe, let’s say it

together. Here we cannot leave more fairly beyond neon.
We could run for the roof beams unhinged with prospect.

We could devote our entirety to the glamorous void.
Example: “To be successful is to decide exactly

what you want. Go, then, for broke.” We sink to the center
with cups, slots, quarters. Vampiric, conquered.

If the center opens, an arrow runs through with a maze
back to center. What dread in our slaughtered selves,

this brilliant illness years on end. Here twenty-three
of each one hundred thousand take their lives.

This is expected after an evening, though we surprise
ourselves showing in the clanging smoke. What dream

we had, what they said was such. A push from the bed
toward the night-crawlers stiff with indoor element,

wildest lark. Example: “Sure as you are sure, are you sure
you want all your money on a pony?” Answer:

“Yes. I am broken!” We walk the most astonishing carpet
now each time underground, where the cooler species

gather, the sorts seize to all look sad. We remain only
more towards dawn in gross proximity of skins

that whirl around the masts. Here we are adapting, greenhouse,
a jingling theater of torso or we don’t know who we are,

want less of what we don’t know but go on stunned.
Anger replaces fear replaces hunger, being so twinkly

grand. Yards of Technicolor beverage, decaying spread of
backside slapped to a barstool when the glass and the

gloss and the barstool tumble and we’ve jumped, boy, we’ve
jumped our very stake listen what plunged our heart.

Lynn Melnick’s poems have appeared in Boston Review, Paris Review, jubilat, Guernica, and LIT. Poems are forthcoming in A Public Space and Narrative. She was born in Indianapolis, grew up in Los Angeles, and currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two daughters.