—where is the word—
that little Universe
you keep from me?

Is it
under the bending
autumn leaf?

In the silting
& fading lantern
of your voice?

You cannot aspire to
there on the deck

held up by barking
you cool my brow.

on the wetness of my lips
as I bid another dream to die.

—where is the word—
that little Universe
you keep from me?

Could it be the embrace
of how it survives the frost
in one more impossibility?

Even if
forcing yellow & red
it withers to white?

You pushed fierce
into my eager mouth
but what of my heart

sinking you
further & further still
into a darkling welling of perhaps.


Speak to me
to be done with
the budding threshing of your face:


You will want
the perched Word atop my breath
lonely as a gasp.

About the Author

Manuel A. Melendez was born and partially raised in Camagüey, Cuba, part of the Taíno peoples’ indigenous lands.

He graduated from Otterbein University (née College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He is currently getting his MFA in Poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. One of his pieces, “What Books Do Not Teach,” was one of five pieces (across all genres) selected to represent UAF at the AWP Intro Journals Project in 2023, his short story, “Time-Machinin’,” will be published in Carolina Muse Literary & Arts Magazine in October, and his creative nonfiction piece, “recipe for a brown sugar salad, prepared as a tribute” will be published in WayWords Literary Journal in January.

He dreams to one day live in a world where poetry and other forms of writing can take permanent physical shape in the world, but settles for a fierce latte, vibrant verses, and trouble in the water.