Medusa in a Mirror

Female anger sanitized by a male expression
The undulating danger of the monstrous made feminine,
Medusa in a mirror,
The gorgon in the blood,
The nefarious banal,
The shimmering echo of the demon in the throat,
Choked once more into sobriety
By Adam—
Giver of Names,
Arbiter of Shame,
Blameless Judas,
Are you still the only one who can tame
The witch in the woman,
Bottle the marid,
Set fire to the madwoman’s ghost,
And tell her to sit still?

That lick of insolence when you take a woman’s anger into your mouth –
Speaking a spell you don’t believe in –
Boy of flesh,
You have never understood the femininity of ragnarok
But I have.

Beneath the half-lit gas lamps of living in your world,
I, Woman, have bound myself to what is true,
Learning to distrust the light,
I have welcomed only stars, only moon,

Only the way my own eyes glint in mirrors,
When, once again,
You have come for my head.

 

©K Paige Medina 15 September 2017

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Tío

for Uncle Jorden 

I never thought I feared death.
But I feel its presence in the way I can feel the soles of my feet
rise up into my stomach
when I look at the scaffolding outside my window;
the pain I can feel churning my insides into typhoon seas
when I see bloodied fingertips,
cuticles cracking,
skinned knees.

I always thought death would be
like a large room full of empty rooms,
the hollowness of wooden floors,
large and cavernous doorways beckoning slow movements,
a wandering, bare foot —
a place where billowing things were kept,
a place that, the closer it came to night, the more oppressive the emptiness became —
all the rooms suffocating in the staunchness of their silence,
unwhispered secrets stealing the whimsy out of curtains,
dipping white sheets into starch,

eternity kept like a madwoman in the attic.

I pictured it quiet that way,
but I forgot about the fire that kind of silence threatens.
Perhaps death cannot be so silent.

Perhaps it must be let out,

consuming air like water, like earth, like
the oblivion of city nights in the summertime.

Perhaps death is like August,
when empty rooms still trap heat in their ceilings,
when memories become cacophonous,
rattling their unwelcome spirits through the narrowing corridors,
never to be let out.

Will you tell me
when I see you again
if I was right?

 

Perhaps it is not right to ask,
when the silence of many years stretches still between us,
but I have only ever asked things from you
when it was too late to ask,
and you have only ever given me
the sunbleached memories of
tumbleweeds
and turtles,

the tenuous and safe way a child remembers
stories she heard from happy relatives who,
drunk and falling asleep beneath the warmth of Christmas lights,
could only laugh,
only clutch with their sleepy lungs
at air that would eventually calcify into
the fondness of imperfect memory.

I wish I knew you since.

I wish I could hear your voice now,
telling me perhaps not to be so sentimental.
Telling me perhaps that I was right —
that death is not so frightening as living.

Don’t say to me that

the reason I didn’t fear death was because
I didn’t expect it to come for someone else.

 

©K Paige Medina 04 August 2017

Oil

I want to be the man who rescues the dogs of the desert,
but I am not.
I am the desert, rustling drily beneath an unforgiving sun,
that I also am,
punisher of cracked seeds, the beating heat of a purgatory
I cultivated for myself.
But I am also the dogs, running, tumbling,
children trapped in the spiny grasp of an unkind world,
but the world is me
and I am dry
and I am sweat
and I am asphyxiating on the calcified fossils of unsaid words
dipped, acidic, into poisons I feed myself,
where the roots of my soul cling desperately to
aquifers full of toxic, molten, gangrene sunlight.
Tarantino sunlight.
The sunlight that brings death in a bride–
a poached kind of brightness that
bleaches in nuclear fallout the bones of dogs
unrescued.
I want to be that beautiful savior,
but I am the unsaved and the desert,
bearing yellow teeth,
oozing with the oil slick hatred that grows,
abundant
in the dry, buzzard air.

©K Paige Medina 25 May 2017

Cursed

I am cursed.

A doomed and unbeautiful creature, eyes and heart perpetually skyward, I have the curse of poets, the disease of Romanticism, seeing beauty in the ugliness and awkwardness and messiness of life.

Oh, do not say it is a curse.

The curse, then, of the unskilled poet – the off-key bard thrumming unwelcome odes to the sound of an incomplete melody,

A sawed-off kind of poetry,

A flea market poetry,

The poetry of gnats and electronics,

 

That which, once heard, cannot be silenced.

 

©K Paige Medina 10 May 2017

Poesy

Mosaic world,
Thief of my temperance,
Drifting sorcerer of the windswept
Places of my heart,
Return your cobbled, lighted being
Once more to my side.
Fill again these intimate cracks,
The fingers unruly around glass bottles,
Grasping like a child
In that uncareful way
At the delicate truths which live,
Which die,
In the small spaces of a morning.

Gilded mystery,
Breathe anew the unlit stories
Of the thousand whispered words you have
So generously,
So cruelly,
Bequeathed me.

Am I so different from
Those wiser poets, eyes of stars,
Mouths agape in the moment of ecstasy,
When time breached through the cool water of night
Another sunsplit morning?
Have I not the same breathless spirit encountered,
When, happening to look up from weary life,
I have been struck by a momentary lapse of presence
And been transported back
Back
Through sublimity, to that moment when all things
All poets
Speak the same language?

©K Paige Medina 09 May 2017

Before Rain

What is it about cloudy springtimes that prophesy some
tenuous complicity,
some unpardoned infliction?
Perhaps it is the flowers,
blooming silently in their waxy delicacy,
peering with expectation
at the watery gray delight of sky-borne promises.
Is it rather crows,
roaming the spaces between sky and earth,
calling primal, undignified,
the ugliness of their songs
like water filling porous rocks–
an erosion of sound,
an inkblot on the wind?

Is it trees, leafy, burdened with
green and bustling purpose,
fluttering noisily in northern breezes
and then, just before dusk,
are ominously,
expectantly,
silent?

 

Is it the nearness of faces,
awash in the crispness of gray light and thunder
yet unspoken,
bundled to eyes in black clothes,
walking hurriedly,
conspicuous eyes made of a curious haste,
darting every so often
toward the clouds?

©K Paige Medina 19 April 2017

Spider

Spider,
you tried to keep me afraid
but I met Ananse in Africa, and was

baptized in the silk of his tricks.
I learned to sweat out my anger
and not to kill what I feared;

your small spinner’s legs
are breakable too,
and I am no longer afraid of you.

©K Paige Medina 2 April 2017

Braver Love

Love,
we have cooled, haven’t we?
Slowed to the rhythm of days
we never saw coming,
preoccupied now with the minutes
that once seemed tenuous.
Is it granted, this life,
made up of the coffee spoons we
recycle without telling each other?

Or are we still
allowed to burn with the flames we once knew,
standing billowing upon the mountaintops
of hills we fought to crest,
when we were brave and excited?

Let us not go gentle
into the twilight of our love’s forgetting,
but make of life
a more impassioned cry

and remember once more
that ecstasy does not keep,
but must be found and caught
like the fireflies we saw in humid nights.

It is work, this
braver love, this
scaling of walls, this
looking at another person and seeing them
as another universe filled with light and sound and fury
and yes,
the smallness, too,
the inconsistency
of fireflies.

I will not sit
to watch love wilt in jars;
let us climb again
those towers that yearn for, but do not reach,
the stars.

©K Paige Medina 27 March 2017

Pools

I wish I were made of many pools,
stepped, stacked,
brimming with the fractured beauty
that makes mosaics so easy to look at.
I wish that,
once carved into the mountainside of love,
I could exist in my strange and shining way,
a home for small things,
for many small things.

But this sort of magic
was not made for me.
I am wrapped in a body like
water in a flask–
beautiful only when
it is poured out.

©K Paige Medina 22 March 2017

Witch Children

In the dark you can see them,
smoldering in the muted light,
their elbows smudged in ashes from
too many close calls.
They are evasive like smugglers,
eyes somehow always upturned,
as if waiting for rain
or perhaps a rapture
which only they expect.

I have known them,
these demons,
these churlish half-goblins;
they have come to me bearing
the night of their presence.

I thought for a while they were
witch-children, scared as they were
of quiet and stillness,
carrying their thrumming wariness
in their clenched, bony hands.

We do not speak to each other in words,
but we know
there are things in the world which
all feel,
all hear,
but only some must see.

Our eyes have met, and
these spindly wolflings have
left me to return to the yellow
wallpaper of their invisibility.

But I wonder
if the words they don’t speak
are mere questions–
if they are not born of witches,
but rather of the fearful mediocre,
myself and others.
We left them alone,
to grow feral and hard,
so when they come they bring only
the wildness of longing
as gifts for their forebears.

They are not visitors,
rather masters;
could we have lived peacefully
had I just learned to love them?

©K Paige Medina 7 March 2017