Kate Gale






Back to Medusa’s Cave


What sustains me in the cave?

They say honey

I have no honey



Stabs of light from lightning

And killers


Killers who I turn to face.

Then they’re dead

Fog around the island lifts


This cave is a board room.

Lemons in the middle of the table

Thrash and blur of men fighting


I grind out lemons

Drink the juice

What is comfort but a couch?


A living room

A dog

A whole glass of lemonade


They are trampling out the corn

And I am found





The Giant’s Causeway


The basalt pillars of the Giant’s causeway

Are slippery

Are different height


Are washed by the sea

When I climb on one

I am over you


I look down on you

I struggle to the top of the tallest pillar

From there it is precarious


I might fall

You might catch me

You might struggle to mount your own pillar


Not as tall a pillar as mine

But more stable

Less likely to leave you


Washed out to sea

The sea

Washes around our pillars


We are washed and filthy

We are above and below

And around.




What I hear/What you say


You say, Come here.

I hear, Get over here.


You say, You’re pretty.

I hear, I want to see you naked


You say, Let’s meet later for a drink.

I hear, I want to fuck you.


You say, Let me tell you about my…

I hear, I have a dick that deserves your immediate attention


You say, Let’s go to my room I want to show you my.

I hear, Dick.


You say, I could tell we had an instant attraction.

I hear, I could tell you’d give in to fucking me to get that promotion.


You say, I knew you wanted me.

I hear, I knew you’d eventually comply and do it with me.


You say, Kiss me.

I hear, it’s time to give me that blowjob.


You say, I’d like you to undress me.

I hear, It’s all going to be about me.


You say, I love you.

I hear, I really want a blowjob now.


You say You take my breath away.

I hear, It’s all about me.


You say, I’ll call you.

I hear, Goodbye.




Those Who Loved Medusa


You Poseidon came to me in the temple.

I laughed at suitors. Men in love.


You said I was a thing of beauty, a cup for love.

You smashed the cup. You poured the wine.


In Athena’s temple, you raped me on the floor.

My eyes met Athena’s.  She found me guilty.


After the rape, I gathered myself in blood.

Athena whispered, I curse you.


Athena said, You wore red. Your skirts rustled. You smiled.

Your hair will rustle. Your face will be unforgettable.


Your silky hair will be snakes.

Your sweet voice a hiss.  You are creature.


Carry this story forward . Rape is the fault of the victim.

Carry this story forward. The female turns the key, opens the door.


You raped me in the temple.

I am that thing.  Hold my head aloft.


Laugh for generations.

Don’t stop laughing until Medusa


is synonymous with death. Turn me into that thing you fear.

Make me monster. Make me creature you fear in the dark.


You fear the thing in the dark. Wet, ripe, swollen.

Waiting for pleasure. That thing demanding.


Fear the woman with her own snake.

Men kept visiting me in the cave on the island of Cisthene.


Men kept visiting the cave. It isn’t true they all died.

Imagine the men who entered the cave, found love in the dark.


Imagine the men who braved the forest, found my lips.

Imagine the men who found my lips.




Consider the Lilies


Sit quietly while others eat.

Understand.  This is not personal.


Walk the gutter.

Note sunlight on street. Not for you.


You were born without arms and legs.

You were born without face.


Without money in your pockets.

You have no pockets.


You were sowed on rocky ground.

Your parents had no land.


They are landless.  Will never have land.

They are not an island.  Or water.


They are not.  You are not.  Of this earth.

Nothing on earth conspires to sustain you.


Chalk it up to bad genes.  And no lamp.

No meadow. Wood. Glade. Dappled sunlight.


Make the best of your red checkered tablecloth.

Of your corn.  Canned fish.


Crackers. Tomato soup.  Onions. Garlic.

You have eggs.  There will be more of you.


Pray without ceasing.  Imagine writing.

Or painting.  Imagine music.  Or don’t.


You don’t have time. You don’t have eyes.

Or ears. Your hands work furiously.


But produce nothing.  You can’t reach

the sill of the well.


Consider the lilies.



First published in Tabula Poetica




Terrible stories



Don’t tell me terrible things

my grandfather said.

Tell me nice things.


Don’t tell me if you’re

lonely, cold or homeless.

Don’t tell me if you’re out of work.


Or without a boyfriend.

Don’t tell me if you have a boyfriend.

Or if you have a boyfriend living with you.


I started a journal.

To have someone to tell

When I went  hungry.


When all the boys bought me Happy Hour.

That scrape with the police.

When my dog got run over.


The crow I rescued.

The guy with the knife.

All the terrible stories .


My grandfather watched birds.

Who am I when I shut out the dark?

The stories?


My children hold stories for years.

The cops, the parties, the break-ups.

The breakdowns, the mad love.


They give me what they think I can hold.

We have baskets of stories.

Some writhe like snakes.


I put my stories

in my lover’s basket.

Except this one terrible story.


Which I won’t tell anyone.

It’s the story that

made my grandfather shut the door.


I began to tell him.

He shut me down.  If I were Scheherazade,

he would have cut off my head.


I’m all alone if there is no God.

And he’s left me.

I’m afraid of dying alone.


I’m so afraid I’ve made a party,

then a mess of my life,

So someone’s with me.


They’re laughing, but they’re with me.

Watching me create this topsy turvy world

Where change is the only constant.


I’m living in a party now; I’m not alone.

You should see me making up stories.

You should see me out here in the rain.












Dr. KATE GALE is co-founder and Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review, and she teaches in the Low Residency MFA program at the University of Nebraska in Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction.


She is author of seven books of poetry including The Goldilocks Zone from the University of New Mexico Press in 2014, and Echo Light from Red Mountain in 2014 and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis, which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.


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