Chords of dissonance: The poetry of Shelly Rodrigue

By Shelly Rodrigue


Bathing the Goddess

Beloved Artemis, choose me
among Naiads, make me
your darling Nymph,
turn me into a spring
and I will bathe you forever.

Cerulean water trickles down
her back like my finger tips;
caught light glitters gold
I name them.
Virgo. Scorpious.
I trace them,
the Virgin, the Scorpion,
myself a mosaic,
architectured by Gods,
pooling around her.
Essence of pink rose
that fragrant ecstasy
planetary and smooth
inhabits me.

let me drown in these waters
so long as you and I
never leave them.
Let me live to serve you
in fresh springs and stardust
one bath at a time.



Electra, c. 1970s

I carry my father’s love
In a long, black case
Dinted and dinged,
Silhouetted with a silver lining
And with clunky clasps.

A Les Paul replica
Rests its lawsuit headstock
Inside the case on a long, yellow bed
Made before I was made,
The instrument worn and rusted
Like the man.

Tarnished tuning pegs necessitate change,
Tiny screws stubborn in long held grasp,
Gold has now faded to gray, yet
Electric still as if it had
Forgotten the decades
Since last fingers were pressed
Into these frets.

I have struck the chords of dissonance.

I learned from the banjo broken things
Marked by childhood’s favorite blue crayon
Are meant to be thrown out with “the trash.”
And he has called me that.

Did you kiss her? You freak.”

Sobbing on his couch at nineteen years old,
I can neither explain nor defend myself.
His grip tightens around my throat.

“You are nothing to me. You are trash.”

The same words my grandfather used
When dad’s baby sister was pregnant.
He comforted her then.
I had no brother to comfort me.

“Let your nigger take care of you.
Get out. I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!”

I answer with a hollow echoing:
What does it matter, and does it matter, who
Plucks our strings if they aren’t broken in the end?
I have tried, I have tried to make him new.
I no longer can.

My father’s love lies now inside a closet
The same in which I hid from him the banjo
Among other things we do not speak about.

May he live to see me vintage
My music, my way,
And know my value then.

Shelly Rodrigue is a poet from New Orleans, LA. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her poems have been published in Guide to Kulchur, The Borfski Press, and Ellipsis. Her poetry recently won the Andrea Saunders Gereighty/Academy of American Poets Poetry Award at the University of New Orleans.

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