Melissa Studdard on Poets Cafe

The following interview of Melissa Studdard by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission).

Biographical Information—Melissa Studdard

Melissa Stud­dard is the author of My Yehidah, The Tiferet Talk Interviews, and the best­selling novel, Six Weeks to Yehi­dah (recipient of the For­ward National Lit­er­a­ture Award, the International Book Award, January Magazine’s best children’s books of the year, and the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award). Her poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, is forthcoming from Saint Julian Press. Her short writings have appeared in dozens of jour­nals and antholo­gies, includ­ing Boule­vard, Con­necti­cut Review, Poets & Writ­ers, and Ishaan Quarterly. She currently serves as a reviewer-at-large for The National Poetry Review, a pro­fes­sor for Lone Star Col­lege Sys­tem, a teach­ing artist for The Rooster Moans Poetry Coop­er­a­tive, an editorial adviser for The Criterion, an editor for Tiferet Journal, and host of Tiferet Talk radio. Learn more at



Integrating the Shadow

I was a bird in the hand of God.
I was two in the bush,

the yin to my own yang, yang to yin,
drinking gin on the porch at midnight,
or otherwise drinking tea – you see

how it is – Bach on Tuesdays – Thursdays
acid rock, tie-dyed t-shirts and jeans.
Mornings I fed the needy and blessed
their souls with sticky kisses.
I sang to them and lotioned their feet
with lilac cream and peppermint oil,
humbled by their poverty, inspired
by the way they got out of bed
without cigarettes or coffee.
Afternoons I cursed their lazy
asses and stepped over them
in the streets on my way to the pub
seeking a little warmth or a quiet corner
in which to ponder the implication
of lips on brass, to dance, unmolested,
with my own shadow, which was my worst enemy,
and, conspicuously, my only friend.

I was a bird in the hand of God.

I was two in the bush.

—Published in Redheaded Stepchild and Ishaan Literary Review.