Paula Mendoza


I called my heart a catapult, you named yours AK. Mine, medieval. Yours, borrowed. Together against walls shell-pocked and all the glass broke to brighten an afternoon inside a palm’s hour. We lived in its clutch. I like how it zags like lightning, you said, and raised an arm to slice the air, making machete clearing-brush noises nothing like weather. Was it Zeus or Thor, I ask, and you said both, and I think that myth is anyone dead. We picked the larger pieces off the floor, sent bolt after bolt hurtling into the street. All the windows are mouths big and toothless. I lay on pieces ground down, more or less harmless, more or less powder. I would wake to some blue shone ragged through. And it almost meant morning if I had a day. We sleep anywhere they aren’t. We know that isn’t bird call that trills into the freeze. After the storm, we held between us my red scarf. Like the mother’s cord you said, you are my brother I said, you are my brother you said. My teeth clamped on its knit and I hissed, this is my tongue and your tongue too. So you tugged at the red word and drew my dragon’s tongue toward you. Reeled me in, fist over fist. I am your brother. You are my brother. This is my tongue. And yours. And we roared all the fire left us.



my face folds into blurs
in the mirror, formless,
then reforming.
Paula’s anatomy
Dalís a melt, body of
I’s divested of I.
Vertical puddle, or
the conjurer’s
cloak, crease of collarbone
and drape
of shoulders, arms
furl, and I
languid in the glass
a hand
with long, thin fingers
to gather the nape
of my neck
a dark, low voice
to blot a bruise inward
at the bore of my spine
the marrow aperture
exclamation of
ta da! and in
a single flourish
for his hand
to throw off
the skin of me
and there she’d be—
the woman—
                        sawed in half
                        made whole.


For the phrases my arms and thighs
at slender intervals contrived
to ignite, I am indebted to cinder

the light it was.
Poring over a hybrid erotics
in bed, misprisioned cognition—

contagion. A marvel,
the myriad ways some wraiths
secrete their reedy news.

Oracular the voice you can’t
put a face to, severed
by subway doors slid shut.

I swear, there was a man there
but turning my head
only caught scent of ocean

and mangoes. It’s not an apparition
if it doesn’t appear. I am not
sorry, in any case, neither jeweled

nor glass. The panic to pin me
must have been of being
shorn. Sweet as any giving in.

I mourned you voluptuously.
Scraped to shadows, now.

where no one darkened.
Here, where no one lit.


Paula Mendoza’s work has appeared in Parcel, Bat City Review, Washington Square and elsewhere. She a reviewer for Scout, essay editor for The Offing, and assistant poetry editor for Newfound | Art & Place. She lives and writes in Denton, Texas.