Melinda Coppola

twenty four may | from the inside out

Melinda Coppola

twenty four may | from the inside out

I’m so pleased that my poem, “Farther”, which I share with you below, was just published in the Spring 2024 issue of Metonym Literary Journal. Metonym is a print journal, available for sale through their site at

Poetry is art. While not everything written in all poems actually happened the way it reads, it’s all and always true. This poem, though, is a snapshot in time and drawn from clear memories of my late father in the long-ago years of my teenhood. I wrote it from a place of deep compassion for him. I hope that comes through.




I knew where to find you
when the big house was quiet,
the powdered air
thick with Viceroy smoke
parting just long enough
to pull me in, and the couch—
your bed of choice since she left—
was empty.

Out the back sliders I’d go,
onto the patio you built,
down the quick wooded path
behind the home
you’d labored to design,
land cleared by your own hands
and the grudging help of your two sons.

My eyes would scan the field
for your red flannel shirt,
tell-tale column of smoke
twirling skywards
from the butt you gripped
between your thin lips,
frayed tan hat tilted towards
the ground you so loved.

March to November,
early mornings, after dinner,
all day Saturdays and Sundays,
any time you could steal
from the desk job you despised,

your dry spine hunched closer to the earth
as you kneeled among the rows—
tendrils of fuzzy stemmed beans
wrapping the stalks of corn,
cucumbers crawling the ground
over and under the vining ones;
pumpkin, green and orange squashes.

The gardens thrived
as your marriage faltered—
wife gone wayward, stolen
by some untamed expansion of consciousness
outside the lines of your understanding.

You poured your sweat and silent grief
into the dark earth that later clung
beneath your nails, settled into the lines
etched across your broad forehead.

Gardens framed by bright
pest-repelling marigolds
blossomed under your aching hands
as you weeded out broad-leafed intruders
striving for order in a landscape
that defied the rules
you built your life on—

Do things the right way.
Do not abide nonsense.
Stay within the lines.

What must you have thought about
all those long outside hours
alone, temporal,
coaxing bounty from the ground
outside the too-large house,
children grown away,

your work-worn hands
digging for answers
and bringing up only worms?


–Melinda Coppola









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