Melanie Graham

hey little girl is your daddy home


Down cellar stairs, we unpack Vietnam:
         wool socks, records, receipts, empty condom
wrappers, remnants of my father's life.  Words
         from his hospital bed, a dry laugh, those 
women would do anything to a man.  
        I thought of the tax-funded brothel America
built during that war – "Disney
         World" -  Main Street stocked with clean Asian mouths, tight
vaginas pried and swabbed, willing women.
        I got a bad desire    Anything to
feed their children.  Sound logic against the
         wrong one rented, raped.  No sense in losing
platoons to gonorrhea's seedy drip,
        good men, my father, a naked soldier.


Good men   my father  a naked soldier
        Requesting the unusual from whore
Hooch maid   wonder what that would mean my
        mind unable to see past his state in
the VA   hardly a man    boney thing
        with twitching eyes   disease stampeding his
brain  Mad cow bovine- anger- crazed- Pa-c Ma---n
        virus winding wrinkles   eating memory
muscle control   A nearby patient calls
        to me  offering Werther's   shaking it
slightly  as if I were not a 22
        year old woman   but a stray    little girl
    my father's twitching gaze    jealousy
        sudden    the get back here   my name a gun


sudden   the get back here   my name the gun
he kept on the coffee table carved with
an Asian scene carefully shipped from the
Philippines  tiny wooden men  pointed hats
raw-shouldered ox  captured under glass  steep
ornate paths leading them toward a .38
laying heavy on the Bible   as if
the onion-skin Psalms might take a chance   get
the hell out of there   don’t touch   he said once
we obeyed   aware of the time   so rare
rain on tin  bluegrass 78's spinning
felt in the oak console stereo   brush
hovering needle gathering lint  did
he go away and leave you all alone?


Go away leave me alone you'll never
put me in a home he'd say
pointing to the gun   Bald suicide an
open air gesture waved on our yearly
visitation day    the one occasion
when he looked me in the eyes   back when he
could   Unschooled in the art of fatherhood
he'd hand me a bucket of bubbling
soap   a soft rag for washing windows    John
his son  his namesake  picked corn   Now VA confined
twig-legged  eyeballs unnerved as an addict's
surrounded by rumpled vets in sweaty
beds  he threatens lives    his  own   the nurses  
but never ours   precious   suddenly his

Melanie Graham

Melanie Graham received her Ph.D. in poetry from the University of Lancaster, UK, in 2013 and is finishing her MFA at Sierra Nevada College, where she was awarded an Exceptional Manuscript Scholarship by Brian Turner. Her poems have been finalists in several national competitions including T​he Southeast Review, 10 Years and Counting’s Occupy Your Imagination Contest, Split This Rock, a​nd S​o To Speak. Her poem “Nip of Teeth” was just awarded Main Street Rag’s Kakalak Poetry Prize for 2016.