Last night our oldest friend turned Oedipus at
Colonus. It happened right after his shaky great reading.
He stood unfolding his orthopedic cane
Atop the steps behind the Poetry Center,
His macular degeneration now having
Advanced so far he seemed oblivious
To all but the darkness his feet were about to enter.
And waving off our annoying flurry of hands
With his patient-impatient: “Go on ahead. Go on!”
We watched from the lamp-lit curb as he tap-tap-tapped
Each granite step. Tap-tap-tapped as if
Instructing us on how he kept his meter.
93 full post
(157 words, estimated 38 secs reading time)
The prisoners are lugging a cauldron of soup
Suspended from a sagging bamboo pole
That’s stretched across their emaciated shoulders.
The one in his twenties beseeches the one in his teens:
“You must remember these verses, dear Pikolo.
It’s what Ulysses says to shore up his crew:
Consider well the seed that gave you birth:
You were not made to live your lives like beasts,
But to be followers of worth and knowledge.”
All the way to the Lager they sing those lines,
Lugging a cauldron of soup that hangs from a pole
Suspended between their skeletal shoulder blades.
Inferno: Canto 26 full post
(180 words, estimated 43 secs reading time)
I was back in Winthrop, driving though the town
Where I grew up. The radio’s off, but passing
By the brand new high school it’s vintage Motown
Comes blaring through the Bose speakers in Neil
Shapiro’s yellow Camaro. The top is down.
It’s nineteen seventy-one. We’re taking a “beach check.”
The great Temptations are singing as if they could drown
In the waves of what keeps running away with them.
I love the way they stretch out the crucial noun:
Imagin—a—tion. The girls on their towels are lying
Face-up or face-down. Their skin is golden-brown.
Neil is the president of the senior class
Just My Imagination full post
(278 words, estimated 1:07 mins reading time)
Ó-po-po whispered my Arcadian father
As the four of us came over the dazzling slope
Of freshly mown grass aglitter with morning dew.
Open-mouthed, dactylic stress that keeps
The breathless canopy of trees idyllic,
Exactly like in Poussin’s painting, where shepherds
Puzzle over an ancient tomb inscribed
Et in Arcadia ego, not knowing what
On earth it means in their neoclassical Eden.
My staggered father knew, yet didn’t know,
From World War II, that there could be so many—
So many snow-white crosses, and all of them staked
Arlington National Cemetery full post
(217 words, estimated 52 secs reading time)
Hymns and Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations
By Peter Cole
(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2017, 336 pp, $30)