Author: Paula Mendoza-Hanna

Paula Mendoza-Hanna is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is the recipient of the Hopwood Prize in Poetry and her poems have appeared in The Raleigh Review, No Tell Motel, and Wicked Alice.

Chamber & Waist Down, All Animal & Self Deceit Series, Rome 1978


Ague, or room. In either the seized
body, fits.

Winter and worn, sky purls
a frieze, braids wool over my

mouth unknitting loudest soon.
Your closed door

valves a kind
of fever.

Weather dements
until heart is in effect pre-

positioned. When all and after I
am left: With. Out. Through.

For after was all I came
for: You.

Waist Down, All Animal

Mood like lava. Interrupt
cool it, girl, settle.

Feldspar, christ! Stole in.
Voleur stages heist, beast from cavea.

Snakes her tendrilling. Tore
fillet bind, wrecked diadem.

Neverminding sting, metal taste
when teeth, or split. Alkaline tip.

Her liquorice irises, his pupils astral.
Lover, must I. She said going.

Do this unto. For sun’s sake, down.
She wants to go

faster. At his sound, frots.
His sound, fraught.

Below, satyr. Bed centaur, her head led
down, his hand bearing.

Again, redden
rubymeated, damson.

Pulp muscled onto pitstone.
Some drippy. O, woe! A welter, high sea.


Self Deceit Series, Rome 1978

A room lit grey with the paper peeling.
No one inside the cold space, but you feel
a body there, it’s your mind seeing

beneath. The paper thin as onion peel
and strokes of ciphers skittering across
its face. Any word will tell, any word will.

But this isn’t a stanza, it’s a room mossed
black, rot and dust matting the floor.
Where a body isn’t, quickens with loss.

Body’s the trouble you came here for.
A photograph denies death, in spite
of that well-turned lie, an open door.

Body bang up against glass, coiled tight
inside a mortar nave, down on all
fours, crawling away from the bladed light.

A face isn’t hid, its blur only startles to stall
a ruin so slow it’s static. Hour abrades
without telling, not the way we know to tell

in a cheek’s pale or reddening shade
or by the itchy insect flutter at our wrists.
The picture sees time unmade

by tint, by tincture, by drams of corrosives
fixing still what the eye annihilates.
A falling willed to last, the body insists

on holding together even as it breaks.