To you biographers of Caesar, I am that murdered general, a Roman nose engraved on silver coin; an alabaster column in perfect Roman order, a sword, a plough, a prefect, a century of soldiers— a bumper crop in Tunis or in Spain. To you biographers of Peter, I am that Prince Apostle, a Hebrew man enshrined beside the Po; a traitor and evangelist fell prey to Roman order, a sword, an ear, a net for men, a century of soldiers— an empty cross along the Apis train. To you biographers of Arthur, I am that coming high-king, a Celtic myth in Celtic pride entwined; a pauper and a prince, once, before the Roman order, a sword, a stone, a chalice, a fief of noble soldiers— the Cup of Christ long kept by England's swain. To you historians of Athens, I am that naval power, the wisdom of my people long beheld; Master over Sparta before the Roman order, a sword, a fleet, the polis, a city-state of scholars— the light of pagan Europe in my blade. You genealogists of Adam, I am the father sinner, God's firstborn from the dirt of Eden's shade; a farmer and a workman, the sewer of disorder, a sword, a tree, the rocky earth, left to my warring children— their history still in my image made.I wrote this maybe 15 years ago while I was reading Leaves of Grass. The poem is really nothing like “To a Historian,” but I loved that title so much. I think that was the impetus.
To Statecraft Embalmed – Marianne Moore
An early work, and I love it. “To Statecraft Embalmed” starts with an image that might just as easily refer to a certain (current) political figure:
The only version of the full text I can find online isn’t formatted exactly how piece is presented in her Collected Works, a volume I seem to have misplaced precisely as I sat down to write this post.
The whole thing reads to me as uncanny prophesy, hard plumage and all.
Depression – Jane Kenyon
New Poem Published
The Summer 2020 issue of Rat’s Ass Review is now live. My poem, Widowing, is included. This is a strong issue with many great poems. I’m very happy to be included.