Melissa Eleftherion

Two of Cups reversed / Order Thysanura

Scale & mean

how to say

lithe surprise

in measures

lurid body

of the slippery & fast-moving

trauma response



one secretes the phloems

Cell a pulse of alarm sugars

There is the hidden always



Crave a muscular foot of stability

& longing

There is the unknowable

domestic species

There is the unknowable family

Trained antennae

Long, segmented threads

of intelligence

To seek a self -

after harm

One adorns ones body

with protective filaments spells

for the anther scales &

armor for justice

There is the radical spore

vulnerability there is

(always) an opening

Cerci present in the

meeting cerci present at

the library cerci in the


Slender & subterranean

a muscle of desire

in crack & margin

in leaf litter

or a favorite book

seek dark

& slow-moving - a nest

i slither & sense

I was a nymph once

it was quick - i learned

early the ease of changes

“minimal metamorphosis”

a living testament of


“more than forty molts

in the life"

I feed but

do not copulate

i place the whitish eggs

in my vagina

from soils to silver

i slither & hide

safe in my order

safe as any

domestic species

Knight of Wands & the Flower Fly

The flower fly gallant and ruddy with bee music

Will of the wand

One wing to west wind – hovering like an anxious

Italian mother - mangiare a miele

To thistle a sweet infection

To the aphid predaceous as a ladybug or bee

Camouflaged by common identification errors

These pollinators don’t sting

Flamboyant as war in a dress

This performance poet leaves a perfumed trail

Floral pattern of soundscape aromatic rattle as calcium carbonate

Rusts from spongy mouthparts a mandible to teach & siphon a blade

What dulcet mimicry yellow buzz & black slade

What dulcet mimicry A field of fur warmed by the sun

Species of wild charm & protective spells - feelin’ fancy & doin’no harm

in the fens / Justice

subterranean integument i capsule myself anechoic chamber

revealing echoes of the mind what you thought you knew then

in the fens wanton spit of peat moss rising up & its derivatives

partial drainage of water music the suction i eat that eats me back

characteristic of white spaces artificial swallow of love’s carapace

a low, lying edge ;

but then - in the fens aerate & margin of organisms matter

this water table my bog & respiration this water i am

a decomposition of nutrient dense conditions

and yet the abundance of life

and yet i am still and yet i am

Melissa Eleftherion (she/they) is a cis queer human, a writer, a librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & ten chapbooks, including trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020), & abalone (poems-for-all, 2021). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa created, developed, and co-curates The SFSU Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange with Elise Ficarra. Her poems have been widely published in various journals including Paperbag, La Vague, & On the Seawall. She now lives in Northern California where she manages the Ukiah Branch Library, curates the LOBA Reading Series, and serves as the Poet Laureate of Ukiah. Recent work is available at