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Matthew Melnicki




I echo, each pinnacle pricking me. I fake my levant relentlessly. I rise erect, rove to the other room, depress the broad button, and stumble back, somehow drape the thermal again over my bare back. I awkwardly crook my pate, pushed by the pillow – how do I not snap the circuits in my neck? I am never late. Repeat.

The Swede who works beside me, who grows bottles of blue-greens, she should know, she has migraines. These things aren't raisins which reliably shrivel; it is foam that ineffably fills the room. Pia promises she'll call. In between bells she manages to interrupt me, "Matt, are you awake?" She said I said Uh, and satisfied her abruptly, "obm russeng mob teef, kay tog!" and hung up. Until the next peal, I'd never left my cave.

I have a plush owl, he must be quite patient, he puts up with my dawn routine. I clasp him, "Curro, I love you" (we smooch) and I close my eyes wishing him into my next dream, my seven-minute serials. Curro contributes, with the ivory weave of the thermal and the down in my pillow and electric drone left on loop, to the comfort of the recurrence. The reverb reminds me of my time inside the womb. But slumber is not my superlative, I never remember; it's the autumn's maple retreating, the sweet denial of living which I prefer. What I want is December, the end of the year.

Once woken, maybe in the midst of my microbiology profession, I jot on one of my tireless lists all the things I would do, could I capture the mint of the morning. I'll sort through my scraps of upholstery and sew bookcovers and tapestries. I'll epically letterwrite to my imprisoned pals in Persia, practice my false calligraphy. Carve diadems to adorn my corduroy lapel, or border my bedroom walls with stencilled spray-paint ornament in response to Owen Jones. Bake a bundt in my chrysanthemum pan.

At night I just fart. Not that that's rank, it's idle. The eleven anthologies stay in their pile; instead I read rubbish about Adderall or shop for red underwear. I clack at the end of Woolf's undulous paragraphs, return to one line, repeat, I clack, re-read, repeat, like her lilting sea.

I decide, tired, I've pummelled my mind with banality, and here in this hive, the oyster is empty. From a grain it will grow, it only takes time. I paste up a letter-card from Madame Lewicki, of a victorian chair. I will set myself supine, and swear tomorrow the day's diligence will be mine.

I count the hours back – "what's the latest I can be?" – then tap the controls of the clock. The eight that they say, it's impossible; there isn't enough time in the day. So, six. No, I'll be late. So four? If I do five, I can just run out the door. But then I can't tackle that tapestry, I will live among white walls until I advance onto eternity, nay, nothingness. Thus I'm there already. How did I get into this mess? I commit myself for four.

I set a scoop of extracted coffee, my sinister white powder, in a glazed piece of pottery, my most handsome, beside the shrill banshee, splash over it a gulp's worth of warm water and watch it dissolve. I manipulate the speed of the "song" so it slows to match my heartbeat. I throw myself on the mattress, off into oblivion's pool, nestle the owl in the nook under my arm.

Then! Then! Then! After eons, in the midst of my onyx I hear the alarm. I throw off the thermal. I trudge to the edge of the table, take back the bitter powder, and, idiotically, I snooze. Later I'll wonder, why not reprogram for another hour? Every seven minutes I burn in agony, then throw aqua on it, I sizzle in relief at the pillow, until I attain that fake fifth, and the caffeine kicks in. I pull on the blue boxers which I plot to evict, and storm out the door, to the sagebrush outside, begin my hustled bikeride.







Matthew Melnicki is a microbiologist, studying photosynthesis. Prior, unpublished, his poems have been surreptitious, furtive as he ekes at PN National Lab, shh!!! A blog of his at wordpress: suchaswitch. While working for his important piece of paper, he won at Berkeley three awards for poetry, submissions he hardly even remembers, suspects owls in the swamp.