Tagged: Melissa Currence

Here lies Octavia #8th Day Challenge

Here lies Octavia (1875-1888)

Gravestone, Octavia Carter, 1875-1888

Gravestone of Octavia Carter, 1875-1888.

I breathe out the dandelion seeds
and roll in the hay bales
I push up the ryegrass
to grip their roots.

I run my scarred hands
in the thistle nests
and pat the ruts to keep them worn.
Dust rouges my cheeks
as I swing around the peeling tree trunks.

I’ve watched you
since the devil gripped my foot in the stirrup.
You have also absorbed death
between each sunset for a century.

I wish you could hear my song
and your laughter could
echo with mine,
that we still had a life
among these slaty hills.

Come now,
this is nowhere for the living.

© Melissa Currence 2015

This poem came together because of Halloween and listening to my mother’s stories about our family. She retold me the story of Octavia, who died when she was 13 years old after a horse riding accident. This picture is of her gravestone from 2013, 125 years after she died.

While the idea of the poem came together quickly, I worked on it for days. Since each word choice is so important in a poem, I can drive me crazy trying to search for the right one. I find if I am editing a poem a lot, I often have to look at the first draft to remember what I was trying to say.

What is your editing process? Let me know in the comments.

The #8thDayChallenge

I hope you will join me in the 8th Day Challenge!

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Cincinnati Business Courier Feature – Forty Under 40

Melissa Currence in Cincinnati Business Courier

Thanks to the Cincinnati Business Courier for featuring me in this week’s edition!

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Nora On Holiday #8thDayChallenge


This orange jar is seared in my memory.

Nora on Holiday

Her kitchen produced a thousand
tubs of mustard potato salad
and gallons of country gravy with
coffee splashed in for color.
She knew Elvis was the
best-looking man to ever
have lived and kept
an army of whatnots in arm’s reach.
The Sanka jar sat in the center
of the table for any
who happened to visit,
holding their mugs for tales
of Avon ladies, icy commutes
on inherited mountain roads,
Teamster meetings and the procedures
that cut things out of the family.
Curlers were rolled in
for Monday morning
but the house coat
set her free until

© Melissa Currence 2015

I’m still inspired by the “I am from…” poem prompt from George Ella Lyons. So I went in search of family poetry prompts and found a helpful post from Melissa Donovan on WritingForward.com. I saw the column for Grandparents and got inspired to write about my Grandma Nora, who passed away in 2011.

The #8thDayChallenge

I hope you will join me in the 8th Day Challenge!

Let’s Stay in Touch!


Thanks, Dad

When I was graduating from Ohio State with my master’s, my dad, Mike, was retiring.

He had built a respectable business for over 20 years as an insurance salesman. It was a hard roundup; many others rode beside him and couldn’t keep up. The key, he said, was don’t try to just snap up the big game and feast, but go for the small wins and keep the chuck wagon well-stocked.

So he asked me one day if I wanted to take over his business. He’d get me started, handing me his clients and teaching me his cowboy ways. But I brushed it off immediately. I wanted to mold myself myself.

I see now it was a privileged thing for him to offer me this gift. It was something tangible for me to start my life with. I never thanked him properly for his offer. I was a daughter engulfed in riches, being presented with nothing but opportunities.

So I thank you now, Dad, even though you are gone. I wanted to tell you I was selected in this year’s local Forty Under 40 Class. I know you would have been proud I’m thriving on this cattle drive.

Melissa Currence Forty Under 40

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