Melinda A. Smith burst onto the scene in A Cornered Gurl on May 15, 2020, with A Thousand Arrows which is doing quite well in the publication. Since then, she has been a woman who is sounding off superbly. Her second piece, Hands and Railroads and Rage is an audio poem with a gut-punch that won’t let up and hits the reader incredibly hard. Even with its power and its important subject matter of inequality and social injustice, it is Navy Blue–the rhythmic, lyrical flow of a prose-poem, that has landed her this feature. Her presence in ACG is a profound one and I am happy to have her there. And now, the featured piece.
The color of burning is not red
Homebound your mind comes round to thoughts of me, you entertain. Like rain you let me wash your skin, you let me in, you read my words and sully them with thoughts of sin. Did you ever think that I’m trapped, too? Sure enough, in different ways than you, I suffer, go through days lined with navy blue.
Take your language full of lovely words that border on offensive, absurd, take them like the flowers that wilt beneath the early hours of clocks that give us nothing now but time. You seek out the sublime. Stuck in the life you chose. In me, you see poetry. In you, I see prose. And God himself only knows or is it your whore of a muse? The one you caress, turn around, and abuse. Nothing to live for, nothing to lose. Only those weeping eyelids and navy blues.
But you didn’t count on one small thing, the silence and the songs I sing, the fight I have learned how to bring, it adds up to more than your petty lust. Of phoenix ash and blood that’s dried to dust, of lava seeping forth from crust, of bile and acid awash with shoulds and musts, I’ve seen it all and swallowed them whole. I’ll win here, too, for I have tasted the likes of you, these stringy pieces of tendinous sinew, I’ll pick them from my teeth to chew and face you in a way you never knew. For nothing spurs me more than navy blue.
Mistake not this smile for acceptance or feelings returned. Your vile words may try to burn, I let them for awhile, but now I’ve learned and I’ll fence you off from this red heart. These phrases that cut are just the start. With paintbrush or machete, I’ll construct my art, in pigment or in blood, I’ll create or tear apart. If you’d like, I’ll break it down to the science behind it. If I move too fast, I can explain and rewind it. Buried in me, you’ll always find it — this protective layer of fight or flight.
It’s in us all, nature’s Darwinian call. Preserve the species, one and all, and my cells will follow this creed. They heed, they need, when called upon, they bleed. Trillions of them, as if they always knew. One by one, they’ll turn on you, too. With a tide of physiological anger like you never knew. And I’ll be here, never bothered by the paths you steer, instead turned away from you dreaming, always dreaming of navy blue.