SHARON KOUROUS                      

Welcome to Melic After Hours.  Before you begin to read, I invite you imagine your favorite late-night spot.  Bring your best, dearest friends; put your elbows on the table, grab a brew and some snacks.  Listen: at the bar, heads together, a few youngsters talk about love—or is it sex?  Nearby there are others speaking – of death, of loss, of the many ironies of life in this century.  Some voices are raised – is it a fight?  Laughter! – Some clowning at the bar?  Folks draw closer together, the music seems quieter…

Gathering poems for this issue, I read these so often, it started to seem I could hear them muttering, murmuring, exclaiming, and sometimes laughing among themselves. As the collection grew, I began to recognize the effect juxtaposition creates: how a poem in company is different from a poem alone; how the dropping of one voice at the ultimate line makes room for the opening voice of the next poem. Each voice is recognizable; each poem asserts itself – and yet, the sum of the parts leads – well, you decide where these late-night fellows lead you. Be sure to check out the battle going on in the back corner: PoemMania is something new for Melic, and a delightful counterpoint to the quieter voices of the poems.

I’m struck each time I read these, by the particulars; by how the best poetry is often the most specific, as the best conversations are those among storytellers, voices speaking of dailyness, those small essential events, sights, and sounds which mark our passage.  Listen:

        “Such small things/ the wasps build under the neighbor’s eves…”

        “This is the first time I’ve written in a pink cardigan…”

        “…this night, / forgetting its name in a thousand mouths.”

        “—and in 150 degree hairpins…”

        “I rushed into the courtyard/ armed with a chainsaw…”   

        “…kneels to stroke the rags/ and fragments of its spent cocoon.”

        “Because I could not nail the twins…”

        “No one writes about another country’s water pipes…”

        “The noise of the city/ congeals like mud on their shoes…”

It seemed almost as if the voices didn’t care if they were heard or not; there’s a self-sufficiency in each poem – and yet each moves in the context of the others.  In your neighborhood pub, late, after the drink-and-drive crowd has moved on, the stay-put drinkers and talkers huddle closer, voices rise and fall. A camaraderie of solitaries begins.  The lone observer (like an editor) picks up the rhythm of lives rubbing against lives.

It has been my pleasure to sit quietly in a shadowed corner listening to these poems. And a greater pleasure, to let them speak for themselves, to you.