Mel Xiao ’18 was named a 2017 New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate. She received a Governor’s Award and will have five poems printed in a national anthology. In addition, Mel won a 2017 Moving Words Competition, through which her poetry will be turned into a film, as well as a NJCTE 2017 Bronze Medal for Poetry. Mel’s work has been published in The Apprentice Writer, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Blue Marble Review, and Cicada Magazine. She performed her poetry live at the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival.
city of lights
i’ve been staring at the same dead bulb on my ceiling
for the past three hours.
the power was cut,
and the wiring is spitting sparks in the rain
on the pavement outside,
hissing underneath the growing sound of sirens.
i can’t see anything beyond my feet.
i like it better this way.
the city is a russian nesting doll,
a body in
a body in
a universe folded upon itself.
looking down the barrel of a gun
is the most powerful place to be.
feel the cold metal under your hands,
focus on the target,
and tighten your grip just after you exhale.
a human body,
opened up for observation.
inside all of us is
and telephone wire
jointed by cable
and roads growing out like
the ambulance showed up at my neighbor’s house today
didn’t bring their sirens with them,
as silent as an angel ought to be,
autumn needle rain falling in the headlights.
my parents went out with raincoats and brave faces,
pushed the trolley in with the emts
and told me not to follow.
from under the trees that looked like veins
dripping water on my head,
i watched as
the white sheet flattened out
the volunteer crossed herself
and the wife covered her face
and the world was dampened,
by last rites.