Melancholy (A Gram of &s)

A Gram of &s form is based on the daily word game found in the puzzle section of many syndicated newspapers.  Each line ends with one of the eleven words derived from the title word. 

—Terrance Hayes, Hip Logic.

That’s laughter you said, that’s sand, glass, lace, 
fragile as bubbles, clean and comely.  That’s an omen    
you said, a black raven, alone, crying for home.  

That’s grace you said, you wear as a halo, 
pungent as lemon, a holy
lament that is deep as a honeyed ache.

That is cello moan, you said, only
an echo of an incantation, a call
from your lonely hymnal, 

a sweet calm 
that is ocean, your final amen. 

The Queen’s Executioner    

I long for a night without dream’s
pooled blood seeping through the cracks.
Young Mary clutches the stair rail up to the pine planks.
A flammable wheeze bloats my windpipe.

Pooled blood on pine planks flows through the cracks
of her skull, through her hair the color of ink,  
her windpipe thistles soundlessly.
Some nights I place my own chin on the stone’s notched groove,

see the ebony glow of her hair set on fire by the sun, 
her head scuttling into the basket like a heavy crab.  
The death axe is as great a weight as the notched stone 
which leaves grit between my teeth. 

Her heavy skull thuds in the basket,
eyes blind, no longer flicker gold.
I grit my teeth
gaze at a raven through my mask, 

a pale flickering over my one blind eye.
Even now I feel a catch in my throat watching it clutch 
the rail, a vision faint through night’s dark mask.
I long for a night without dreams.


Noah is in a frenzy             reminding me 
     the rains are coming                   how distant he is
     huddled in his great apostrophe           I have been sent out 
                 to collect seed pods             from outrageous fling-bushes

I have sewn quilted pouches into      my dress and
     coat as has Naomi             my companion 
out voluptuous pockets                 full
   at night my body               transcends into

dandelion rain deer  whale          pods that populate
    roots expand                through the softening
        rain-soaked                   ground 
I breathe under water riding each     bubble to the surface

vomit                    carcasses    
    of whales                shimmering with bees 
        swim in warm waters 
   wanting to ride              the incandescent lust of falling

I long for fin      claw                  the furred and tender arms of the tiger  
     as I nestle into Naomi each night          transformed 
       into raven’s sensuous flight              I know the raven’s eye 
edged and keen                    I need to own it

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios

Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios’poetry has appeared inClementine, American Poetry Journal, Poetry Leaves, Kentucky Review, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Poeming Pigeon, Form Quarterly, The Edison Literary Review, Poeming Pidgeon, and Unsplendid.She was a 30/30 poet for Tupelo Press.Her prize-winning bookSpecial Deliveryis published by Yellow Chair Press and available on Amazon as is her second chapbook:Empty the Ocean with a Thimblepublished by Word Poetry.

She co-wrote the bookParty Lineunder the name Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. Elizabeth is a professor emerita from American University in Washington D.C., having chaired the vocal and music departments. Vrenios’ solo recitals throughout the United States, South America, Scandinavia, Japan, and Europe have been acclaimed.  As the artistic director of the Redwoods Opera Workshop in Mendocino, California, and the Crittenden Opera Workshop in Washington D.C. and Boston, she has influenced and trained students across the country. She is a member of the international Who’s Who of Musicians, and is the past National President of the National Opera Association.