Sunday, April 14, 2024


 —Poetry by Eileen Patterson, Cudahy, WI
—Photos are from the upcoming film,

Whispers in the Walls
written in the white edges of the Polaroid.
An arrow points down to where mother stands.
As if she wants a record of that time.
Telling the future,
I am here. I am beautiful.
Watch me conquer this world.

Seventeen. She stands on the front steps.
Almost arrogant in the way she smiles into
the camera. The high-waisted black pants,
her hands in the pockets, the white shirt tucked
in, showing her curves.
Mother lives in theaters, romance everywhere.
She thinks her future is solid as concrete. Falling
in love, tumbling down that road paved with
her body raging with want. Romance and
Her innocence lured out of her. The man will
pull her
to him, kiss her till her knees go weak.
The man is father. He waits in the background,
both lover and scoundrel because nothing is black
and white like in movies.
No fade to black,
no screen flashing,
The End.

He is at the railing holding a baby.
It is not one of us. We wait in mother’s body.
The porch is small and has a landing of stairs
below it.
Mother is two steps down. Her back presses
against the siding, arms at her side, looking up
at father like she wants to ingest him, lick the salt
off his skin.
She looks twelve but is at least nineteen.
He could have relaxed his hands and let the infant
fall, its soft head exploding, small bones every-
He does not. This is our father.
It is the beginning for them,
At night, in dark rooms of passion, they eat their

Father rejects healing hands that tend
his body, the cold smiling strangers.
He dismisses the white coats and the dry lips
of the holy men.
No words of confession could
change the past.

Nurses come in, snapping the line above his head,
smiling at him or ignoring him as he does them.
Soon another body will come in and lay on their
crisp sheets. Father erased from their minds.
Death is near him, it is alive in the room, close,
He can feel its fluttering heartbeat,
He doesn’t coil in fear. He whispers,
find me.
The last breath is in the morning.
Darkness covers the room. Shadows
dance on the floor, others stand against the wall,
still and quiet, waiting.
Down the hall voices whisper, loneliness
is brutal in that dark room.
“Frances”, he breaths her out for the last time.

(A version of this poem first appeared in
Medusa’s Kitchen, 6/19/22)

From the cave of the dead his bones rattle.
The ones behind him peer out from their death
and look curious. Father looks around startled.
He forgot what living looked like.
Listen, he says. I strain to hear, the words are
just a voice that looms over me.  Like a dream
you can’t remember,
whispers wanting to be heard. The air whistles
through his bones
like music,
like windchimes,
finally, a song, a lullaby from him.


Today’s LittleNip:

On Writing Poetry: Take everyday words beyond everyday talent and write them alive.

—C.J. Heck


—Medusa, with thanks and a welcome back to Eileen Patterson!
"I am here. I am beautiful.
Watch me conquer this world."
—Eileen Patterson
(Photo Courtesy of Public Domain)

A reminder that a
Capturing Wakamatsu workshop
starts at 10am this morning in
Placerville; other workshops with
Traci Gourdine and Vincent Kobelt
will meet at Sac. Poetry Center
today, starting at 2pm; and
The Poets Club of Lincoln
will feature Sally Rooney today
in Lincoln, CA, 3pm.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.

Find previous four-or-so posts by scrolling down
under today; or there's an "Older Posts" button
at the bottom of this column; or find previous poets
by typing the name of the poet or poem
 into the little beige box at the top
left-hand side of today’s post; or go to
Medusa’s Rapsheet at the bottom of
the blue column at the right
 to find the date you want.

Would you like to be a SnakePal?
Guidelines are at the top of this page
at the Placating the Gorgon link;
send poetry and/or photos and artwork
to We post
work from all over the world—including
that which was previously published—
and collaborations are welcome.
Just remember:
the snakes of Medusa are always hungry—
for poetry, of course!