Cassandra, wake up.
I thought about the words you said yesterday,
though their acuity have since dimmed;
as the memory of your rape
downsized from a searing lance
to a fine, silvered scratch -
blood against the black
like the curse of Apollo in your mouth.
This truth was meant to be a fatal undulation —
a furor for my flint-struck world
like a warming oven
with its marked card houses;
with its painted paper dolls.
Oh princess… No, I mean pallake,
I no longer hear you.
I will live, burn this world until I drop,
Dionysus cursed, prophecy or not.
I chose to write about Cassandra because there were elements to her story that seem to echo with me in terms of the conversations that we have today — art and life for me will always intersect.
Cassandra was cursed by Apollo to be able to see the future, but never to be believed. In some stories, the curse was delivered via Apollo spitting in her mouth, a violation that foreshadows her later violent rape by Ajax.
In some accounts, Cassandra, princess of Troy was taken as a pallake, a slave concubine. Other stories describe how she left a cursed chest with an image with Dionysus in it, one to drive the viewer mad.
The impact of rape beyond the act itself. The diminishing position of a woman’s rights. The deaf ears to accurate prophecies of what may come, including the burning of the world (represented as Troy). These were my ugly inspirations for this poem. All I can say is, Heaven help us. Or as Athena did in the mythology, punish us. Because we are certainly not listening to our Cassandras in our own madness.