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Melissa Balmain - Winner, Able Muse Book Award, 2013

Melissa Balmain
Melissa Balmain


2013 Able Muse Book Award
for her poetry manuscript
Walking in on People

Selected by final judge, X.J. Kennedy

Coming soon from Able Muse Press - Spring/Summer 2014

(the contest second place, finalists and honorable mentions are listed here)


Melissa Balmain edits Light, an online journal of light verse. She has published poems in such anthologies as The Iron Book of New Humorous Verse and Killer Verse, and in American Arts Quarterly, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, The Rotary Dial, The Spectator (UK), The Washington Post, and of course Light. Her essays, articles, and humor pieces have appeared in The New YorkerMcSweeney’s, Success, and The New York Times.  She teaches at the University of Rochester.


Sample poems from Melissa Balmain's A Walking in on People


A Drinker with a Flask

After a painting by Théodor Rombouts, 1597-1637

At first blush, you’re a party boy fresh from a night
of carousing with corseted wenches—
in the watery light, your expression is bright
as you raise up the tipple that quenches.
But a closer inspection reveals that your chin
has been shaven of stubble this morning,
and it seems that your grin may be starting to thin
after many a minute adorning
a face that—it’s clearer now—isn’t so young;
and your biceps have probably tired
as the bottle, sans bung, has just hung there, and hung....
Yes, your zeal for this scene has expired.
Still, the painter’s your friend—or is willing to pay
you to pose—and the booze smells sublime,
so you’ve promised to stay, feigning fervor all day,
the Heineken man of your time.

    (previously published in American Arts Quarterly)


Song of the BraBall

    "From Valley to shining Bay, women are … making a gesture of liberation: They're sending the bras they hate most to El Cerrito artist Emily Duffy ... 6,800 bras [have been] rolled into the BraBall, a 700-pound, 43-inch-diameter brassiere-sphere now growing in Duffy's garage." 
    The Oakland Tribune

Sayonara, you Miracle bras—
We are sick of miraculous itch.
Adios, you maternity bras
With the clasps that make nursing a bitch.
See ya later, you cross-your-heart bras
That deprive us of air as we talk,
And you "ultra-strong, never-quit" bras
That collapse while we jog, bike, or walk.

Now it's off to the BraBall you go.
We are sorry we wasted our dough,
But at least you can be in a show.
(Any boyfriend or spouse who dares mock
Our obsession with lingerie schlock
Needs a day in an underwire jock.)

Women used to set fire to their bras—
Good for them, not so good for the air.
Now a sculpture constructed of bras
Seems just right for the eco-aware.
And besides, it's a hoot that you bras,
With no hooters inside you to tame,
Are becoming celebrity bras.
Thanks to you, we've got jiggle-free fame.

What comes next? How will all of this end?
If we're lucky, we'll see a new trend.
Some exhibits we gals recommend:
Balls of pumps that have tortured our toes,
Balls of shoulder pads, thongs—and who knows?—
We could fill up the Met with our hose.

    (previously published in Mezzo Cammin)


Bernard Mann (not verified)

My sincerest salute and at least ten hurrahs

for your supplest maneuvering of nouns, rhyme and bras,

elliptical rounds of applause and a few claps

for equi-inclusion of jokey jock straps.

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