Poems by Melissa Helton


The things that were stolen, she said,
aren’t things I remember.

Not being fed upon.
Feeling all the edges.

I don’t remember those.
They’re gone if I ever had them.

The others, I didn’t know they had been stolen –
at the time. I thought I was giving them away.
I thought I was trading.

And all eyes in the room look
away from her.


Love from You is Like

A tea cup of sun heat
making the hands that get near it prickle,
glowing up into an expectant face
painting it dandelion quicksilver,
glitters thrown deep into dark eyes.

Red light-echoes burn
on everything when the gaze shifts away.

This morning cup of sun,
convection and solar flares
disrupting delicate electronics,
so big and so far away it takes
eight minutes to reach us
at the speed of light.


I am Not the Ocean

The salt waves rush shoreward,
crash into you and knock you down, laughing.
Retreating blue hands trail
down skin. You delight
at its touch.
But I am not the ocean.

The constant breathing noise
causes you to lean out, listening,
your lungs in sync, lightness
filling and lifting the heaviest
part of you.
But I am not the ocean.

The inconstant surface flings gold
sparks and your eyes greedily open, snag
the flashes from the air
and tuck them in,
filtered through your precise retina
to store deep
But I am not the ocean.

As it retreats in its cycles, secrets hidden
in the depths with diatoms and silence,
as it flares up and rages
with intent to destroy,
as it pulls away and promises nothing, you wait,
a mass of giddy hunger,
to enter and slide into it
again with that
quiet sigh.
But I, I am not the ocean.


Melissa Helton is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at a rural community college in Appalachia. She earned her MFA in poetry from BGSU in Ohio. Her work has been featured in Motif v. 4, STILL: The Journal, The Notebook, and others. She lives and writes on a subsistence farm in the mountains of Kentucky.

One thought on “Poems by Melissa Helton

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  1. This is a poem that I can read and sit and soak in. Trying to think of what to say about it is not as important as letting it sink in. I think of how this is a different perspective than ” I am the ocean… a drop of it that is … ” a more “popular” perspective these days. And I can think how this reminds the reader of the importance of appreciating the difference between self and the rest of the world. But, better to just sit and let it sink in.

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