Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Welcome Guest Poet - Melissa Keir #poetrymonth

About Melissa: 
As a writer, Melissa likes to keep current on topics of interest in the world of writing.  She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Mid Michigan chapter of the RWA, and EPIC.  Melissa is always interested in improving her writing through classes and seminars.  She also believes in helping other authors and features authors and their books on her blog.

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time.  She’s always keeping busy.  Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a book reviewer, co-owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature “happy endings” and is often found plotting her next story.

STEPH: How long have you been writing poetry?

MELISSA: I began writing poetry in junior high. I loved using the creative words to express my feelings. Of course being a teenager, feelings were the focus of my life. I have a huge number of my sappy love poems from that time. They all had rhymes and were mostly about lost or unrequited love as well as my feelings.

I left poetry for many years as I became a wife and mother. Finally, I went back to college when my children were both in elementary school. I was fortunate to have some wonderful instructors who breathed new life into my poetry (and reading) experiences.

STEPH: What your favorite style of poetry?

MELISSA: My favorite style of poetry is the free verse that evokes either feelings or thoughts by the reader.

STEPH: Who is your favorite poet?

MELISSA: This was a challenge. I love so many different poets but my two favorite poets are Langston Hughes and Margaret Atwood. I was given both of these authors in college for assignments. I really hadn’t known anything about them until I was *forced* to write about them and analyze their work. Now I can’t imagine life without their works.

STEPH: What's their favorite poem that they wrote?

MELISSA: I highly recommend Margaret Atwood’s short book “Good Bones and Simple Murders”. It has not only poetry but a unique look at life. One of my favorite pieces by her is “Gertrude Talks Back” where Hamlet’s mother basically gives him some advice.
Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing
The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn. 
Margaret Atwood
Langston Hughes had an amazing life with two parents who basically didn’t want to raise him. His poetry opened up discussions about race and helped bring about the equal rights movement.

Genius Child
This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can -
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?
Can you love an eagle,
Wild or tame?
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him - and let his soul run wild. 
Langston Hughes

STEPH: What inspired your poem?

MELISSA: My poetry is inspired by taking a unique look at the fairy tales and stories we heard growing up. I have poetry that focuses on the part Disney played in our life as well as how media’s emphasis on looks has warped our images.

A Twisted Fairy Tale
By Melissa Keir

Little Red Riding Hood?
Boy, they got that all wrong.
She was hot, you know, what a looker-
Not at all little, nicely rounded.
And she had hair to match that temper
like the sun, all fiery and golden.
After looking at her,
I never even noticed
a basket of goodies.

She walked in the woods everyday
with that wiggle and bounce in her step,
Trying to get my attention.
But I was too busy
with my work, and couldn’t
stop for her.

One day last week, maybe Tuesday?
She gave me that smile, you know the one.
And asked for my help picking
flowers for her sick Grandma.
Just the thought of her sick Grandma,
I had to help.

Then it happened-
As we were picking flowers,
She laid her cape on the grass-
She was all over me
like a treat to a starving man.
She was like an animal.

But when her boyfriend,
the Big Bad Hunter saw us,
She freaked- And blamed me.
She called me a Wolf
and said that I was after her basket of goodies.

So that’s the story, officer.
I’m innocent, not an animal
just misunderstood.
It’s girls like her who give
Fairy Tales a bad name.



  1. Melissa, thank you so much for being here today. I loved your poem and the poems you shared. Helen of Troy really speaks to me. You are one busy bee!


  2. Thank you Stephanie for having me. It's funny how authors stay with us, even poets.

  3. Hi, Melissa! I didn't know you wrote poetry and found yours very intriguing. I began at age 9 and did up until kids came along. I used one in my sensual romances. Hugs!

    1. Thank you Vicki. I wrote a series that are all a little twisted like that. :) Poetry is such a fun art. You have to show images in so few words.

  4. Awesome! I told someone the other day that poetry in college ruined it for me, but I just loved villanelles. I may write one again some day.

  5. Fun poetry to read. It's been a long time for me.

    1. Thank you Sheri! I love the challenge of using only a few words. :)