Medusa, Unbeheaded, Turned to Stone
by Robert Lavett Smith Robert Lavett Smith

Born in Michigan in 1957, Robert Lavett Smith grew up in northern New Jersey, in a suburb of New York. Since 1987, he has lived in San Francisco, where for the past thirteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional for the San Francisco Unified School District. He holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of New Hampshire, where he studied with Charles Simic and Mekeel McBride. In 1982, he studied with Galway Kinnell, as a member of the Master Class at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. He is the author of four small-press chapbooks and, most recently, of a full-length collection, Everything Moves With A Disfigured Grace (Alsop Review Press, 2006) (available from Amazon). All of these are free verse works. A collection of his sonnets will be published by the Full Court Press some time next year.

      bust by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, c. 1638-1648 (Article in Wikipedia)

The master's chisel captures transformation,
Beauty's innate capacity to appall:
Lips slightly parted in mute supplication,
Long hair become a savage serpent-scrawl.
The human grief of the emerging monster
Moves us to pity, for we see her still
Woman beneath the horror thrust upon her
That cannot be forestalled by act or will.
On the translucent marble of her breast
So finely worked it shines like pliant skin
Lie writhing shadows destined to suggest
Darker humiliations coiled within,
The vacant orbits of her downcast eyes
Emptied of rancor, sadness, or surprise.

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