Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

READ LOCAL First: Melody Newey Johnson

Melody head shotSUNDAY BLOG READ is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. Each month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.

Today we are featuring Salt Lake City-based poet Melody Newey Johnson who here provides first a shape poem in honor of Easter (today) and then a selection of her self-described “Tiny Poem Tuesdays.” 

Originally from Provo, Melody has spent many hours in the past commuting to Salt Lake for work. Many of these works were written on public transportation and then promptly posted to her Facebook page.  Says Melody, “I believe in a relationship between truth and brevity­.” As such, this current project of tiny poems is an attempt “to winnow poems to the smallest version of themselves–without compromising depth or meaning–specifically for consumption in social media.” By doing this, she hopes to introduce poetry to “the masses” . . . or at least to her friends on Facebook.  She quotes celebrated poet Mary Oliver in this endeavor: “I believe poetry is convivial . . . it’s very old, very sacred . . . it wishes for community. It’s a community ritual, certainly. And that’s why when you write a poem, you write it for anybody and everybody. You have to be ready to do that–out of your single self. It’s a giving. It’s a gift to yourself, but it’s a gift to anybody who has a hunger for it.”

So curl up with your favorite cup of Joe, and enjoy the work of Melody Newey Johnson!


A poem for Easter Sunday
Stations of the Cross: Twelve


What has

become of

post and beam,

of the forgiven few who hung you there?

Where is the stone, the napkin, the doubter?

Where is


anyone who


you then?

And does it

matter now­,


while your

voice fills

my heart,







Feb 9 2016 5:48 AM

A Valentine (from God)
Be an observer
of your own life

be both
sun and flower

find Me
in everything

let Love be
your favorite teacher.

You began as
a curve,
a comma
in your mother’s

unfurl yourself
stretch your heart

let your fingers open wide
away from your palm

then hold
someone’s hand

tell the whole world
about it.


Jan 26 2016 6:37 AM

This is how I know you

(the same way I
knew my babies)

by your scent
and by the
sounds you make
in the night.



Jan 5 2016 10:42 AM

Music and Silence

Today I caught a glimpse of

invisible strings
run between lovers —
strung tight, tuned to each other
through days and years of living.

I heard sympathetic vibrations.

I saw an old woman’s fingers
woven between her husband’s
when he died.

This is why we fear Love:
the music,
the silence.


Dec 1 2015 6:28 AM

Last night I dreamed a poem

written by a man
who lost his love–

he was a child again
without a home

and with lamplight too dim
to tie his shoes by.


Nov 17 2015 8:47 PM

Illicit Affair


I profess disdain
for coming winds,
for cold, howling nights,
the long dark of winter.

But on that first afternoon,
when snow has not yet fallen,
has not even considered the air,
only hinted from a distance,
with her soft, familiar perfume–

I am mad in love,
crazy with desire for
biting wind, sky so blue
it chatters your teeth,

for mornings so quiet
even lovers stop
to listen.


July 7 2015 2:21 PM


Not always
but sometimes
I prefer
the company
of trees
to the company


23 June 2015 8:49 AM

Thank you, God, for this

one life
one voice

and days
to sing
all the music

you wrote
in me.


16 June 2015 2:10 PM

What Shakespeare (and Browning) Knew 
If I could write
words of flesh

your shoulder
would be a sonnet,

how it loves me–
let me count the ways.


Mar 17 2015 5:05 AM

I am a match

struck against
all the wrong

until you.


Feb 24 2015 4:11 AM

Dear Beloved


If there is a difference
between laughing
and flying

you’re the one
to teach me.


Feb 17 2015 6:37 PM

Near Virgin, Utah


Last night
when I looked up
into black-blue
star-cut sky

after creeping
my car down
a gravel road
I thought:

it’s good
to be at home
in wilderness

it’s good
to be at peace
on the edges of light.


Dec 30 2014 6:54 AM

Morning at the Train Station

Spring rain
white noise.

Winter snow

white quiet.


Dec 2 2014 7:55 AM

About the Sky

we do
the blue?


Nov 18 2014 6:10 PM




Oct 14 2014 5:49 AM

Night Sky

when you lost
first love?

How your heart
shattered into
a thousand


Sept 16 2014 5:09 AM

Notes to a Lover
the rain
and you.


Sept 1 2014 3:45 AM

Last Night I Prayed
I want this [life]
to be easy.

God said,
it is.


July 22 2014 5:00AM

I dreamed a question: What Happens When We Die?

Swim! He said.
Push off the bottom
of the hundred-feet-deep,
leave your seal suit behind
and come find us.

Swim! She said,
up, toward the light,
break the surface,
take a breath
and fly home.


May 13 2014 8:38 AM

Perhaps God fashioned us
from dust, whispers, and mystery.

Or perhaps the sea formed us
from saline, sand, and memory–
before God knew what he was doing.


April 24 2014 8:29 AM


one word


April 8 2014 10:06 AM

Watching Wild Rabbits Play

The only way to tell the truth
is with a question. So, I ask:
What has become of the soft,
brown things we once were?


Mar 18 2014 7:48 AM

The Sea

She will take what
you’ll surrender-
from your lungs,
your thoughts,
or hands.

She will take it
and run with it.

But she always
brings it back
as something new,
something more (or less)
and usually shinier.


Feb 18 2014 9:54 PM

a kiss may
mean nothing,
a word can
say everything,
and the soul
will find itself

by a glance

without a moment’s


Feb 11 2014 8:48 AM

Winter reveals
empty nests
built last spring.

My heart is in
one of them.


Jan 28 2014 5:57 AM

It’s frozen now–
swollen, hard around
in the garden.
I miss the smell of dirt.



Copyright, Melody Newey Johnson, 2016

Exponent-Winter-2016-cover (1)Melody Newey Johnson’s first collection, Fifty-Two: A Year of Tiny Poems, is a work in progress. Her award-winning poems have appeared in Irreantum, Segullah, Utah Voices 2012, Utah Sings, and elsewhere. New works will also appear in two anthologies slated for 2016. Her poetry has been featured in collaborative art exhibits in the Salt Lake Art Center and as part of the 2002 Winter Olympic small gallery project. Melody is poetry editor for Exponent II magazine.

Past featured writers in 15 Bytes’ Sunday Blog ReadKatharine Coles, Michael McLane, Darrell Spencer, Larry Menlove,Christopher Bigelow, Shanan Ballam, Steve Proskauer, April Wilder,Calvin Haul, Lance Larsen, Joel Long,Lynn Kilpatrick,Phyllis Barber, David Hawkins,Nancy Takacs,Mike Dorrell,Susan Elizabeth Howe, Star Coulbrooke, Brad Roghaar,Jerry Vanleperen,Maximilian Werner, Markay Brown, Natalie Young, Michael Sowder, andDanielle Beazer DubraskyKevin HoldsworthJacqueline Osherow, Stephen CarterAlex CaldieroStephen Tuttle, Raphael Dagold, David LeeLisa BickmoreKirstin ScottJesse ParentCraig DworkinLaura Stott and Jana Richman.





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