Paean to a Statue of Headless Athena/Self-Portrait as Odysseus

by Cassie Garison

Paean to a Statue of Headless Athena

You, who in all ways but body is soldier armed

with marble veins and steady-weaving fingers. You,

who thought that robes like yours meant

submission, sunk your dress like a burning barge

beneath the sea. You hide a pain below the vast

and spreading surface of your palms, each crag

and crevice smooth ambrosia darkened shadow-

spots or wine-stains on a wedding cloth. I take your chin

in my hand, tilt upward: its sharpness scarring

skin, you swallow your cheeks concave, hungry,

barely bone. You too have been trepanned:

only know your own head as a million

locusts escaping, then the body emptied

and shelled sliding beneath the waves: carapace

of a ship slipped sideways
and barnacled.

Self-Portrait as Odysseus

Shoulder-bones open and outward—canvas

stretching, flattened wide. I am facing

a wayward sky. In its red: volcanic, igneous,

a stark divide. Buoyant between—diaphragm

of a sail flexing, ugly bunker cabin bent

with buckets and booze. Strings pulled so tight

they form the dark knots of a ship’s mast,

hair of a sea-girt gorgon. All things here

hinged only on their relation to each other,

silent and shaking, erratic as compass: needle

electrified. In the distance: mountains cobalt-
sharp. I have not seen land like this in years.
Cassie Garison is a queer poet who currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She has a degree in English and Classical Languages. She has work published or forthcoming in River Styx, mojo, Nimrod International, Hobart, The Penny Dreadful, and others and is currently a Poetry Reader for the Adroit Journal.

Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by APweather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.