In a House of Mirrors

Punk Noir Magazine

All I Can See is Myself


3 More

Beautiful Poems

by Jennifer Patino

mass consciousness

insists I face

my traumas

but when I look

at them

I relive them

in your stories

I see faces

of monsters

I can still feel

in my teeth

they pop up

due to the

elusive algorithm,

‘someone I might know’,

then sneak

into my dreams

so I wake up


I might be

getting old

& I have no

good advice

for the youth,

because not

much has changed

for me,


grown old

by circumstance

I was ‘too young’

to have


‘keep going’,

I’ll say,

it’s possible

with a lot of

weight on your back

a broken heart

still ticks

even if

you can’t feel it

don’t stress

about all

you can’t forget

because aren’t you

tired of being

forced to do

so much?

if you can’t

control much

at least

grab hold

of every day

you’ve survived

until the next one,

& the next one,

don’t lose count

of what you

can count on,

don’t lose sight

of who is

still there

once the fire’s

been put out

& the smoke clears

The Damp

mother with a bottle opener,

ice crackling in summer

there’s weight in the air

& some night bugs

attracted by

the tension

land only to be

slapped, the humid

sound of bare flesh

ridding itself

from pests

mother’s calling

my father to tell him

she can’t handle

her fears — these bugs

in this new place

are monstrous

& they take flight —

these children

are restless

& hate it here

no, i’m not alright

mother’s bought

a new dress

& we present

our school supply lists

which she throws away

like unnecessary receipts

there’s no evidence

of our existence anywhere

we make sure of it

mother with a bottle opener,

still waiting for a phone call

we’re all in hiding

because it seems

she’s sprouted

new antennae

& there are thuds now,

heavy stomps on the deck

slithering critters

& cancerous squealing

mother’s eating

the swamp strays,

crushing the cordless

in father’s work boots


it’s all not working anyway


to this I am impartial:

she’s buttering blame

on her morning bread

before force-feeding

her babies a shot

of truth, her misinformed

notion in food form

slicing pieces

of vanity & pride,

squashing any

sense of self-appreciation

before it festers into sin

we remain thin,

sleeves of saltines

chewed 48 times

before dissolving

into a reflection

we’ll never be able to trust

she spits compliments,

venomous, half-handed,

back-handed critique,


(it leaves a mark)

we can’t scrub our bodies

away, mold or shape them

into more pleasing

shapes for her

her voice

grates like a stuck zipper,

bobs like a scale pointer,

fluctuates, like moods

& weather patterns

all those antonyms

for beautiful, for perfect,

for love — they’re welts

on our stretched skin

but she never gave them,


we etched them

into ourselves, stitched

the holes, filled them

with other lies

& loathed who looks back

at us from the other side


upon my incarnation

as a sapling

on the forbidden planet,

I tried to blend in

with the pale ones,

but my cheekbones

& my view on life

always gave me away

tall flowers, stalkish,

lily-white & commanding

pitied me as a cinder

girl, different somehow,

foreign, interesting,

& the dreaded exotic

their questions were framed

to entrap me, to get me

to speak out against

their kind so they could

civilize me, refrain me

from being who I was born to be

I grew a little, learned

the word ‘colonization’,

& regretted my attempts

to fit myself into

their puzzle that I was

always slightly unfit for

I became my own enigma,

a wonderment, a guessing game,

made to feel ashamed

for being too much

or not enough

I can’t win if I’m not playing,

if my soul struggles

with simply existing

in this skin, this mind,

this placement, this time,

this earth whose heart

beats along with mine

I’m not ready

to settle in

as a mighty tree,

claiming my stake

& my ground, my

homestead, my

way to be, my

— my, my, my 

I own nothing,

they want me dead

for my rejections

of their rules,

they scoff at my

beliefs & my

worship tools

I smile when afraid,

laugh to escape

their knife tongues,

wrung out by

middle age, hiding

bundles of sacred white sage

before I too

am endangered,

before I’m wiped out

of their orbits,

before I’m a dust stain

in a revisionist

history book,

or in a glass box

in a museum, stuffed

with eagle feathers,

a rare anomaly

for all to have a look

Jennifer Patino is an LCO Ojibwe poet residing in Las Vegas. She has had work published both online and in print with publications such as The Ginger Collect, Half Mystic Press, L’Éphémère Review, A Cornered Gurl, Font Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Briefly Write, and Door is A Jar. You can visit her blog at

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