Kathleen Winter

Phone Interview with Medusa

Privacy’s the key to quietude.
        Certain alienating facts outside
& inside my mind can’t be denied,

        like the little snap
when a serpent’s detached from my scalp,
        gets shut in a door, some painful mishap.

People wonder Does she or doesn’t she?
        I feel every last one of them. You see,
in the winter when they’re limp & lazy

        I, too, am depressed. Of course
I can recall looking like everyone else.
        Nice & easy, you’d guess?

My preference is to be dangerous.
        I don’t desire society or odious
surprises: salesmen, missionaries. Luxurious,

        my palace glows with tapestry, carpets
from Persia, jeweled lamps, a granite
        bathing pool—because I’m worth it.

And breathtaking statues, my guests come to grief.
        Soon I’ll make a new one. It’s a relief
to see art really can change your life.


Kathleen Winter is the author of I will not kick my friends (2018), winner of the Elixir Poetry Prize, and Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Bob Bush Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in journals including The New Republic, New Statesman, Agni, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, Cincinnati Review and Poetry London. She received fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Brown Foundation at Dora Maar House, James Merrill House, Cill Rialaig Project, and Vermont Studio Center. Her awards include the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Prize, the Ralph Johnston Fellowship, and a Poetry Society of America The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award.