Apokalypsis, Dale Champlin

Michael Diehl, Deep Colors




when her head came off; the way
          an apple is plucked from its stem

Medusa opened so completely—
          her snakes held tight,

          in his ghastly hand. Now
          everything green is a graveyard

every boom breaking on the shore
          an echo of her missing mother

far below her dead daughter—
          two immortal sisters preen.

how they play with stone figurines
          in this cavernous dollhouse,

pots of plague left on the burner—
          uncomfortably alike

still singing away, hollow inside;
          toothless descendants of dinosaurs

a cracked mirror
          reflects molten sunset

all is quiet as a graveyard.
         ashes swept along in runoff

her sisters’ mocking tools of trade;
          lipstick tubes lethal as bullet casings

still blistering hot; Medusa’s throat—
          pumps out her children

transformed into poetry and revenge,
          naked, lidless, toughened

by abandonment. an empty fruit basket
          centered on her unmade bed

her monster skin draped alongside.
          from just this one senseless

exquisite cruelty, what we call vengeance
          without redemption. What Perseus carries,

an unseeing mask. now dusk,
          all sleepless golden. & her heart

unbeating, unconscious as the sky
          deprived of light,

                                     bleeds into night.

Dale Champlin


Review by Peter Gordon

This is a breathtaking perspective on the Perseus and Medusa myth. We’ve always been taught Medusa is a creature of pure evil, but in this poem Dale Champlin uses her images and story telling to make the reader empathize with Medusa’s side of the story. Evocative images such as “everything green is a graveyard” and “children transformed into poetry and revenge” help the reader visualize the life and death stakes of the story.

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