HURT MUSIC by Melissa Cundieff-Pexa

The bell’s emptied space
has no name. I would like

to call it my never-born.
I’m there and the metal clapper

and bowl are asleep.
My never-born is awake,

very quiet.

I don’t want to reach
for him. I don’t want to fall

from the rope’s fray or draw
nothing from the naming. I call,

can you hear me? All parts
of the bell rouse differently.

The clapper,

in deepest dream, says,
breathe me back, breathe

me back. My matted lungs
search for air—the bowl

wakes dazed. Hush now,
it drones, your hurt music.


me, dark-circle-eyed in the curve’s
continuum and orbit.

My unborn speaks
from inside his name, his last

wish reverberating:

Carry me in the bell, betrayer.
In the apogee of your voice
to my voice.



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About Melissa Cundieff-Pexa

Melissa Cundieff-Pexa
Most recently a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize, the Akron University Book Prize, and the University of Wisconsin Press's Brittingham and Pollack Book Prizes, Melissa Cundieff-Pexa received an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in places such as Best of the Net, Ninth Letter, The Adroit Journal, Linebreak, Mid-American Review, Bat City Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. She lives with her family in St. Paul, MN.