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= 18 =

About The Poem

I had a very strong interest in poetry and fiction during my high school years, in a different way from my college days. I took a Classical, college prep course in a Catholic high school taught by brothers, whose strong faith combined with a passion for teaching and for the subject they were teaching. I also studied Latin, and absolutely loved the ancient writers. As always, I was daydreaming. We had these beautiful textbooks with images from Pompeii and other places that seemed to come to life as I sat there and let the teacher drone while I lost myself in my poetic dreams. As I began college, and started working summers for the newspaper, I was growing in many ways but I had that love of ancient poetry in me. I think my sense is that nothing ever changes, and we can feel so very much in touch with those long ago living people. There is just a total aching in me and in looking at an evening sky (as when I wrote this one evening at the newspaper office, looking out through the grimy attic windows of the City Room, at an epic and timeless sunset that a pharao might have seen long ago. And as a science fiction lover and poet, I have to wonder if thousands of years from now some teenage poet or dreamer might not look out at a sunset like that and wonder about us, the unknown and faceless who lived long ago.

Ancient Poets

What do the cracked poetries,
the broken rumblings and mumblings
fleshy buttered lips of Catullus,
windy time streets of Ovidean evenstill,
   tell ME,
who gaze at the crescent moon
dipping its scimitar sail
on the wind-blue sea
of the beautiful city
      city of towers
      city of showers
      brief and sun-flecked,
      city of white ramps and bone arches
      whose immensity spells breathless?

      (Catullus—
      your sparrow never looks up,
      hassling breadcrumbs
      earned sweat-drenched on the latifundia,
      in the microcosm courtyard;
      in these walls
      grasses indefinite as Gallic rain:
      Here is every blade, indeed, a blade of grass.)

      (Ovid—
      I dream of
      golden apples
      & fleeting white limbs tinged with
      borrowed shades of light)

Still, the alleys are blue bone,
though you are both
so many centuries still now, quiet,
I only wish I could ask you questions
about life and love.

Copyright (c) 2017 by A. T. Nager Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy or use this material without the author's and publisher's written permission for any purpose under penalty of US and international law.