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“Medusa Calls the Rape Crisis Line” by Cassandra Myers, from Arc’s 2021 Shortlist

“Medusa Calls the Rape Crisis Line” by Cassandra Myers


Medusa Calls the Rape Crisis Line

the poem is concrete, and the outside is a dense outline of the word ring. only in the center is there other words, which read: you wouldn't believe the labyrinth of services it took to get me here. the average wait times are long enough for me to birth my rapist’s child. i’ve been shedding hairs for longer than this night kitchen i call a home. heaps of my leather in the shower drain from my bitter green pruning. i want it off me. every handprint blooms a new head. under all this soft there must be stone. i didn’t want this gift. i begged to be the granite. to be left alone and locked away but still they came with bolt cutters and blindfolds and wet mouths. how ugly do i have to be before i am the opposite of a prize? even curses are hunted when they have a pelvis. it must be my fault, i opened my mouth to scream and there was only a hiss in the attic during the dinner party. i have a henhouse full of tongues and none of them could say “stop, please, you’re hurting me”. i only unlatched limbs like a jaw eggswallowing an O. they became so hard at the sight of me they just keep coming back for more. ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring



Lise Rochefort on “Medusa Calls the Rape Crisis Line”

Myth, like art, is often the transformative device that makes the unbearable bearable, that channels beauty, wit and intelligence to help us carry and/or survive the ugliness of the world. And so it is with Cassandra Myers’s concrete poem, “Medusa Calls the Rape Crisis Line.” Its look on the page, its unrelenting presence magnifies the harsh realities of too many women’s history (past and present). It’s loud. It’s in your face. And would someone please answer the damn phone?



Cassandra Myers (they/she) is a queer, non-binary, crip, mad, South Asian-Italian poet, survivor, performer, educator, and care worker from Tkoronto, Ontario. They are a Canadian Nationals Poetry Slam winner and are transitioning into publishing and illustrations. Cassandra’s debut book of poems Smash the Headlights is anticipated with Write Bloody North Publishing.