My Own Strange Beast // Melissa Atkinson Mercer


Mercer’s My Own Strange Beast is a cluster of short poems, most under twenty lines, packed with evocative language, lush image, and the dichotomy of the delicate and the sharp. There’s a lingering darkness here, a follower, something haunting this speaker through dreams, the smell of lotus, candles, and salted bones. They feel mythic, these women (mother/daughter, aunt/niece) in these poems, carrying baskets of dead fish, sitting in the glow of a brick oven, surviving together, searching together: “Your heart like a thin-throated flower,” she writes, “the small lamp of your face beside me.” (Porkbelly Press, 2017) » available in our shop


Come let us enter the body

All your bones are women, my mother said, a scaffolding of ghosts.

Could I be inevitable, the sum of your first confessions?

Godmother of the wild orchid: teach me to riot,
to light long candles in the rusted trees, in the cadavers of my saints.

Matriarch of departure: be my tongue, my steady guide,
the earth that crawls groaning

from a fish’s festering heart.

about the poet

Melissa Atkinson Mercer is the author of Saint of the Partial Apology (Five Oaks Press) and five poetry chapbooks, including Star-Blind in the Family of Fortune Keepers  (Hermeneutic Chaos), After the Miracle Season (Seven Kitchens Press), and ghost exhibit (Glass Poetry Press). Her work has recently appeared in Ruminate, Zone 3, Blue Earth Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and others and has been nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize. She has an MFA from West Virginia University, where she won the Russell MacDonald Creative Writing Award in Poetry.

about the artist

Danial Powers is a mixed-media artist living and creating in Renton, WA and can be found in the wild with her husband, goblin, and two cats. Her work can be found on Instagram @empressdragon or Facebook at Empress Dragon Arts.

books from other presses

Knock (Half Mystic Press, 2018)
ghost exhibit (Glass Poetry Press) forthcoming
Saint of the Partial Apology (Five Oaks Press) forthcoming
After the Miracle Season
(Seven Kitchens Press) forthcoming
Star-Blind in the Family of Fortune Keepers
(Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2017)
Storm Was Her Voice (dancing girl press, 2016)