Melissa Ho is a first-year student at Columbia University, originally from Ellicott City,
Maryland. Her work has been recognized by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers,
The National Young Arts Foundation, The Poetry Society of the United Kingdom, and
others. She has appeared in [PANK], Word Riot, Twelfth House, and elsewhere.


after car accidents, the light in books,
not hands. surfacing for air

after midnight, a church blooming
out of the midwest

and a box of toothpicks. we pray for
something to grow out of:

a religion for bathroom sinks, humming
television sets. undressed skin —

a fluorescent bed of static, the room lurching
backwards like a shipwreck. the first sign

of wounding breaks open like an electrical
socket, all the wires tangled and

unmarked. the last prayer sounds like laughter,
like carnage: the mouth of a saint, silent.

Street Tape, Aerial View

the carnage on the playground belongs
to me. disaster curves its back on the

fifth spoon of salt, all the leaves shot
open like a monsoon. listen for the sound

of ritual: a home at a dead end, asphalt
rewinding its first disaster. after midnight,

it is only the sirens congealing like cherry
cream, mouths spilling moths from the

backyard. my first name is holy
when it is stained burgundy, a scrape

so perfect and freckled: a black hole at
the end of the bridge, an anthem hungry

for a reason to bloom. i only nod at the
sight of the ground opening: first bruise

like a new year's birth, tongue breaking
silence with the weight of new bodies.

High Water

the boy back home, green like vines. mouth
collapsing like we are back on traintracks:
speak out loud the layers of skin, a birth
of words. light leaking out of a delivery
room: seven days to be thankful for.
wolves in the boy, knotted like the moon
dipping into the crooks of elbows. here,
nothing but flesh-white autumn slipping
through thread, limbs loose and without
a name. a new reason to surface: sheets thin
and a boy rising, all the light leaking fast like rain.

Indian Ocean Hymn

wide mouth of the prune, a river of
bodies, nobody breathing. last time someone
looked here, the flooding carried the house clean

all the pork, water seeping into the rice, banana
leaves dry and warm. i am salvaging all the
thunder. everyone is waiting for hunger, for

the first spoon of salt: mouth like a sinkhole,
a reason for flinching. nothing except an oath:
headboards all over us like we are leaning back

in a dream, every inch of stomach a ritual. ask
about new babies, new disasters boiling in this
floating sky. it is a buoy, a nod for saving: three

swallows in and a folding, all the skin a home.

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