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2005 - Saloni M presents The Shades of Love


Melissa Petrakis

Melissa Petrakis
has been writing poetry for more than a decade, and performing her work in pubs, cafes, clubs, and arts venues around Melbourne for the last five years. Her poetry has been published in After Noon (USA), Centoria, Dan Poets, Deadline, dotlit (USA), farrago, Flaming Nibs: an accidental anthology, Going Down Swinging, Hobo, kotapress (USA), Meanjin, Moving Out Moving On: Poems of Dislocation, The Muse Apprentice Guild (USA), overland, Postgraduate Review (University of Melbourne), Red Lobster, Said The Rat, Scope, SideWaLK, The Other Side, The Second Worst Thing: poems on surviving the death of a child, tiny epics: short stories and poems by young Australian writers.

In 1997 Melissa was awarded The Margaret Connah Award for Poetry by FAW Queensland. Her first book of poetry The Naked Muse was published by The Domain Press in May 2001. Poems from the collection appeared in an installation entitled Perspective Foreshortened: NAKED POETRY in 2000 and 2001. Her second book Attic Dweller, also by Domain Media, was published December 2002. In the northern summer of 2000 she performed her work in London, and two years later in the United States.

With her third collection, The Earth of Us, due for release mid-late 2005, Melissa will share first poems of loneliness; of the acuteness of melancholy and longing when one’s lover has recently departed a space that had been shared, and still resonates with their essence. Then, in a clear departure, Melissa will offer a second bracket of poems from a very different place: poems of illness – of Cancer in particular – drawing on experiences from her work in health, mental health and counselling within community services, and from the close proximity of supporting her mother in confronting the disease.

3 poems from The Naked Muse

You are the moon

You are the moon
in waning time
as you offer me
sides of yourself,
and when very happy
or very sad
you are the full sphere
and you light my night sky.

You are the whisper
in the rustle
of the leaves
outside my window
as dusk pulls the day about it
like a cloak,
and in the morning
you are the friendly, raucous awakening
the sparrows tender.

Your humour
is the liquid of my ablutions
washing the soil of others
and days long
from my pores,
a tonic
a toning balm,
remnant traces
of fragrant irony
after your departure.


Would that I could stay with you
throughout the day, not be parted from you
when our bodies disengage
when you dress and leave this chamber
when you into the world in motion and industry
move with independence and in containment.

Would that while you lay by me
before departing, I could peel back your outer shell
prise open your chest
and nestle myself into the soft flesh
pulling about me this comforter, this quilting of muscle and veins
pulling the canopy of your ribs into place overhead.

Thus I would locate myself
            if not upon you, around you, beneath you
into the dreamspace of your torso
inside the strength of your body, beside your heart
cupping the beats as you breathe
inhaling your instincts and juices red.

Would that I could curl up there and remain
journeying with you, travelling shotgun
still and small, kernelled and mute
imperceptible, no trouble at all
fuelled by my adrenalin and your own
and by a sharp keening born of unwillful abstinence.

over the rooftops

Now it goes it exits quickly
            soliloquy issued
the role in which it was cast
and it having tired
of its time centerstage.

A helium balloon
string let loose
freed from grasp
it lifts to heavens
and fast is gone
far over the rooftops.

An empty milk carton
a box of spent black matches
            bottle top
without bottle it befits
and single sock

I feel the absence of touch
            in our relations
not like a knife blade
into my chest with stealth
            surface cold
metal hard and decisive.

I feel the absence like a winter wind
            on a beach:
sand in my eyes
skin stung by salt spray insistent
and limbs resigned aching
at the numbing of the cold.

© Melissa Petrakis 2001.

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