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Caravaggio's Medusa as a Box of Nails


Forty pounds of iron/brass/woodscrews
lag bolts/nuts/picture wire
this was the aluminum milk box my father used
to keep his refuse hardware in
Home Town Dairy filled to the brim
I had to push it a corner at a time
twenty dollars at a time
to get it from under the bench
so I could palm its spiky crown
it was useless treasure to me
all the things a man never builds
solidified by gravity
to one nuclear core
more tomb debris than new circuits
drywall shimmering like panels of milk
a hundred times I set my hand down
to lift a portion of that writhing head
my gaze pushed into polished concrete
itself a mirror reflecting my twisted face
shoulder/mound of bicep
veined and pumped
who would turn to stone then
sister ratting another doll's head with match
and comb
mother singing to baby brother/baby blue
diaper pin
dangling from her mouth like a cigarette
neighbor kid in the next yard
with a tommy gun
doing his best Vic Morrow belly crawl
Vietnam
not even a cool silk jacket yet
a fading dragon tattoo
father finally down from the roof
punctured/shingling
gone/and back/alone
shoulder sore from where they gave him the tetanus
six-pack under his arm
or just me
that handful of nails I managed to lift
like a possible future
little Gorgon's face reflected
in bubbled aluminum
her astonishment at her own terrifying glance
like the birth of death and bone
I held the package tight
in the damp spring air
brought it down like a reckless hammer
nail to nail/screw to screw
building something bloodied/muscled
then stepped across the threshold
and climbed high in the apple
(which you can do as a child)
as winged as Pegasus with blossom


Dennis Hinrichsen

Third Coast

Fall 2013


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