"Ms. Stein reminds us that there is no honeyrough, or otherwisewithout the sting." The New York Times
In this lush, disturbing second collection from Melissa Stein, exquisite images are salvaged from harm and survival. Set against the natural world’s violenceboth ordinary and sublimepain shines jewel-like out of these poems, illuminating what lovers and families conceal. Stein uses her gifts for persona and lyric richness to build worlds that are vivid, intricate, tough, sexy, and raw: "over and over // life slapping you in the face / till you’re newly burnished / flat-out gasping and awake." Breathless with risk and redemption, Terrible blooms shows how loss claims us and what we reclaim.
"[Melissa Stein’s] sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority." Mark Doty
"[Stein’s] electric apprehensions throb with this nearly preverbal knowing. They are rough as a hound’s tongue. . . . Stein is a new poet of the first order." Molly Peacock
As you slept
I was thinking about the quarry,
about light going deeper
into earth, into rock, the hurt
• f light hitting layers
that should be hidden,
that should be buried,
and how when it rained
for a long time that absence filled
with suffering, and we swam.
Melissa Stein ’s debut collection Rough Honey won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.
|Publisher:||Copper Canyon Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Melissa Stein’s debut collection Rough Honey won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Mark Doty. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and her work has won awards from Spoon River Poetry Review, Literal Latte, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, among others. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of California at Davis, and is a freelance editor and writer in San Francisco.
Read an Excerpt
PORTRAIT OF MY FAMILY AS A PACK OF CIGARETTESI’d barter your lifefor a brief orangeflame and a lungfulof peace. My whole familywas like that, tobacco-stained, curlinga little at the edges.Singed. Wheneverthe wind rose, a fewblew away, easyas an exhale, and we let goin the way one doeswith paper, smoke.Until the box layempty, on its side,in some dump. Now and thencold hands wouldfumble it, in hope.MILKThe nurse has made up the bed so crisply. Tucked the corners’ origamisoundly into the aluminum frame. Your lips glisten, moistened with a square of sponge. I hold your hand—weightless thing of parchment and twig— no more your daughter than a seed cast from hoof-split rattlegrass, no more than an asterisk sprung from thistle, caught, wished upon, let go. I inhale the antiseptic scent of bay, of balsam. Rooted here, in this cheap plastic chair, as if I’ll miss something, as if my missing it would matter. Just as—branch-snap to feeding deer, wing-shadowto the scuttling mouse—it has always mattered. The window frames a square of light white and blameless as milk. I turn from you and drink, and drink, and drink.SLAPI want to write my lover a poem but a very very bad one. It will include a giant squid and some loose change and cufflinks and two blue ferries chugging headfirst on the East River at twenty-six knots and only at the last minute avertingdisaster through quick thinking and sure reflexes. Also a bow and arrow and glossy red apple I perch in front of my heart. To be honest my lover doesn’t like poetrywhich I guess is why I plan to write such a bad one, so he can feel right and strong and good in his beliefs. Tonight when I go see my loverhe’ll hold me as I’ve never been held except by him and then I’ll have to give him back. When you get new things you treat them like glass for a while and then get used to them and manhandle them like everything else. I don’t want to give him back but partly it’s not up to me and partly I don’t want to be his old sofa. I want to radiate and gleam arrestingly until the certain, prematureend. You can compose a whole life out of these rollercoasters. You can be everywhere and nowhere, over and overlife slapping you in the facetill you’re newly burnished flat-out gasping and awake. BEASTTadpole with legs. Hawk with a long tail that is a snake dangling from its beak. The apple limb grafted to the plum tree, blue Mustang with the dull white hood, Ken with the head of Barbie. The boy with a new plump fist of heart or kidney or some shining pins or discs or a thick, imperative tube fastening a mechanism of breath. What’s wrong with me is you.