Joyce Lautens O’Brien

Joyce Lautens O’Brien is a Canadian who used to live in New York City and now lives in Connecticut. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Yemassee, Connecticut River Review, The Planet Formerly Known as Earth, Riverbabble 18, Pure Slush, Foundling Review and Metazen.

Mirrored By Medusa

He runs from me now, whenever
I approach. But only downstairs.
Upstairs I am the trusted friend
I have always been. His rescuer,
who saved him from his cage,
captive at the shelter. We sit together,
cat in lap, happily for hours,
his purr reverberating loudly in the air.

But downstairs I am a monster,
treacherous, who smiles and cruelly
betrays. And I doubt now.
Am I who I thought? Caring, honest,
or that vision of demented malice
only his green eyes see?
And just a floor between us, the two parts
of my soul. I ascend to godliness,
saintly on the second floor, but below
my heart is black and evil. And why?

I stepped on him downstairs, in my hand
a crystal plate barely kept from shattering,
an accident, I swear on Bibles,
no hurt meant. But reassurance was
refused. Since then, downstairs,
he flees.

But perhaps he knows? Understands
the lies? Sees a dark impulse living
within, denied, but present all the same?
Sometimes in my office, frustrated,
unappreciated, I feel the approach
of a darker self, thinking that at my most
unguarded, unsuspecting moment,
my eyes will shine bright and flash.
And they who keep me here day upon day,
chained, will run too late and then stand
before me still, struck into silence,
visioned into stone.

I shake my head with guilt, apprehension,
wondering if I hear,
just above the air conditioned hiss,
the purr of the machines, everywhere,
closer now, a louder hiss
of snakes.

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2 Responses to Joyce Lautens O’Brien

  1. Marcus Speh says:

    Really enjoyed this poem, thank you. Great title, great scene, all happening in a small physical space but masterly extended into the mind of the narrator: “Sometimes in my office, frustrated,
    unappreciated, I feel the approach/of a darker self, thinking that at my most/unguarded, unsuspecting moment,/my eyes will shine bright and flash.” This is almost a manifesto. Love it.

  2. Wonderful. Luminous. Magical. You write so much better than your Canadian cousin in Vancouver.


    Trevor Lautens,

    Joyce’s Canadian cousin in Vancouver.

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