Melanie Henderson

Two Poems

These Guardians

Souls that carry us forward
are clouds, the humid boom of electric
summers in a small, brown town
where homes are close as hugs,
inhabitants Go twice to blues, buzz
and jazz in between the breaking,
holler of snapped blue crab backs,
sweet, sweet is the low of stoops
in the Capitol City.

Big strides of blue black Porter feet,
the Brotherhood and their dollars, evergreen
and growing, every impudent passenger,
a gain on new bricks and deeds everlasting,
to love and keep loving,
to raise and keep raising,
to break both dirt and cobblestone.

We are stubborn Carver weed
and fuchsia from hibiscus, saffron
from hills of buttercups, blood
spilling from poppies.

At the core is sun,
in our hearts is sky.

The Clouds rim our births dryly,
Let us live, die and kill,
then pour down memory as musty rain,
as power, as riddled triumph
for today was always yesterday
and a century past.

Living room in the Sterling A. Brown house. Photo by Margaret Corum.


Pater, grand arc of brown in our skins,
we visit the flat lands for you,

To piece together our bodies,
we beg for the glue of your memory.

A phantom raised its weapon,
bullet pled entry to your chest,

Pater, everlasting, everlasting, Pater.

The Garden of Honor holds its mouth
tight, tight under the grasses’ flank;

Oh, how the soil knows you better
than the seeds.

We loosen the seal of 40 years, the cold,
slow drip of 160 seasons,

The ground lets out a pressured breath,
accepts the dignity of engraved granite,
bronze niche.

Pater, grand arc of brown,
now, all is well. All is well.


Melanie Henderson, Washington DC native poet, editor, photographer and publisher, is the author of Elegies for New York Avenue, winner of the 2011 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. An alumnus of Howard and Trinity Universities, she studied poetry in Dr. Tony Medina's "Boot Camp" and at the Voices Summer Writing Workshops (VONA) in San Francisco, CA prior to earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her poems have appeared in Drumvoices Revue, jubilat, Torch, Tuesday; An Art Project, Valley Voices, and The Washington Informer. She is a recipient of the 2009 Larry Neal Writers Award and a 2013 Pushcart Prize nomination from Iris G. Press. She is a Founding Editor of the Tidal Basin Review. To read more by this author: Melanie Henderson: Wartime Issue