SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation & Witness

Melissa Tuckey



“These people are in prison and there’s poison loose.”
--Rev. Willie T. Snead, Sr., Mossville, Louisiana

That's not an ambulance
that's the sun going down
in your rear view mirror

It gets in your clothes it gets
in the way you talk

And the thunder late at night
railroad cars full of poison
bumping into one another

Gambling boats ghost fishing
on Lake Charles

Sugar is refined here for sweet tea
flour bleached white
Men selling melons the size of heads

Her house held the cancer
like fish in a locked box




The last days of July we walk past an oak
struck by lightening bark blown
hundreds of feet above the creek and hanging rocks
and Pete asks will you put all of this in a poem

and will you include the part about giraffes
taking over the continent and the elephants
fucking like it’s a community event?

At breakfast beneath the dazzle of locust
shells that hang above the kitchen table
he says when the giraffes come we’ll sneak
to the fields and cut the barbed wire
so they can come and go as they please

I’ve already cut the wires
here Pete says
showing tracks where the deer have passed through



Melissa Tuckey is an activist, writer and teacher. Her poems have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Poetry Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Verse Daily. Her chapbook, Rope as Witness, is published by Pudding House Press. Melissa serves on the Executive Coordinating Committee of Split This Rock and is active with DC Poets Against the War. She lives in Takoma Park, DC.


Published in Volume 9, Number 1, Winter 2008.

Read more by this author:
Melissa Tuckey: The Wartime Issue
Melissa Tuckey: Museum Issue