Jalina Mhyana is a two-time Pushcart nominee and graduate of Bennington College’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Mhyana’s second poetry collection The Wishing Bones was chosen for publication by Pudding House Collections’ 2006 Chapbook contest. Her work was also a finalist Perigee’s 2004 poetry contest. Mhyana’s first chapbook Spikeseed was published by Bad Moon Books in 2004.
Major Jackson wrote, "One admires the high-spiritedness and Dionysian spirit that sings loudly in [Jalina's] poems as well as the large-scale intellect that ranges over various cultures.”
Villanelle inspired by
Piero di Cosimo’s
Circa 1505, oil on panel
Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford
The Villanelle, a poetic form that focused on pastoral themes, became
famous during di Cosimo’s time - the Italian Renaissance of the 1500’s.
It’s been burning five centuries. Beasts long to escape
the painting’s few feet of imaginary damnation.
But hoof and wing are fenced by the frame’s dire
straits, a fence they pray will fall to di Cosimo’s fire.
They dream of the wall’s green meadow—a migration
into Michelangelo’s verdant Virgin and Child, to escape
the hemorrhaging paintbrush. The artist was inspired
by Lucretius, one candle lit by another, a conflagration
of Renaissance thought. di Cosimo painted flame directly
onto wooden paneling—only arsonists would conspire
to burn so brightly. Ironic the artist’s benign flirtation
with fire, as he ate his meals raw in the chill to escape
flame within the frame of his home, a pyre
lit in his nightmares. Better the forest’s prostration
to terror: he traps his fear inside the frame’s dire
embrace and watches it consume his empire.
Animal instinct turns man to beast—a translation
even cave men could understand as they escaped
caves of small skulls painted with shadows of fire.