Inspiration. Elusive stuff. Find it where you can—ideally, not from a bottle. Robert Eastwood found it Dante’s Purgatorio, and went so far as to use the Italian master’s three-line stanzas. Consider us impressed. Twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, his first collection, Snare, was published in 2016 by Broadstone Press.
Canto XXIII - Old Poets
While I peered up through that green foliage…
Romer met a poet who was soon to die.
Her fourteen-line poems, like leaves in autumn,
settled on musty shelves & forgotten.
Though her root’s been cut, her children
still hear her count feet, thump lines
on the kitchen table’s oilcloth.
She learned to write sonnets one rainy day
after she’d spanked her daughter
for teasing. Her son had wet his bed.
She took a blunt pencil & sought relief from
yowl & din in rhyming & iambic rhythm.
Her mind loved the order of sonnets.
The volta with the shock of winter sun.
The painterly accuracy of rhyme.
The gut-satisfaction of an ending couplet.
Her friends, the old poets, know the body
follows a willful arc, reverses its reach
one day to a slow curl from the sun.
But they believe as well
that poems breathe as live offspring,
they have an iron-sluice of blood.
Some poets die young, some live to see
their beloveds go before them.
Some watch their dogs take the circle
to death with cavernous eyes, a dun silence—
the quiet way God answers us—embodying
the unsayable each poet would want to write.
Her friends gave tribute at her dying—
garments cinched, soft genitals snugged,
toes growing cold—a hum, ice-like,
constant in their ears.
A true company,
which cherished holy meld, its unlikely
weld of petals & dough.
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