Sheila-Na-Gig online


Jessica Mehta

MehtaAs an indigenous woman and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, much of my work reflects place, space, ancestry, and lineage. Recent accomplishments include the 2020 Birdy Prize by Meadowlark Books (for what will be my 14th book), a 2020 gold award for my poetry collection “Savagery,” and my solo exhibition “emBODY poetry” at Open Signal New Media in Portland, OR. My CV and bibliography is heavy and ample to spilling over, but if you’d like to learn more you can find me on Twitter or IG @bookscatsyoga or check out my author site at for links to books, a documentary on my life and work by Osiyo Television, and much more.

Battle Scars

I pulled myself out of the brambles
The same way I flung myself in, coating
The scratches with saliva, ignoring the thorns
Stabbing like satisfying hunger pangs
Into my disappearing flesh.
There was no intervention, no dramatic
Segue into rehab. I enlisted headfirst,
Discharged in shame, sheepish
And dazed from the fights. After a war, soldiers
Can say with pride, I fought for my country,
For freedom,
For peace. But in the aftermath
Of the war with the self, there’s no pride,
No glory. Just the battle scars of a heart
That began to fail, the tissue-fine skin
With no meat to cling to and the knowing
That I can let my body consume itself
While I sit back, the silent, stupid onlooker
And watch the troop’s parade roll by.
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