Ulysses Recapitulates and
Other Poems


Ulysses Recapitulates

N’apparve una montagna
—Dante, Inferno, Canto 26

Not a wreckage so much as a slow
                                                                              slipping-under-the-water,
which, what with the good wind from the east and the good
rocks underneath,
                                     we might have seen coming,
had we not had our eyes fixed on it:


                                                                     the seven ridiculous plateaus;
the arrogant spiraling up and out from the waves; and, too
(though they could’ve been slow-
                                                             moving trees from that distance),
the penitent faithful, hunched and sleepwalking
                                                                                          from garden to garden . . .


*


Of course we didn’t believe
                                                    until then. Who could?
Foolish to put too much stock in another life. Not when this one
(I say this one, though I mean
                                                        that one) is (was)
staring you down. Not, at least, without some proof.


*


Still, a sight’s a sight better than most get—
                                                                                 even if I did feel,
I confess, some relief when it was over. Always easier to sit
than stand, or so
                                 they say in here (though down’s more accurate,
if more expected) . . .
                                         But you do wonder, now and then, especially
when a little breeze gets in and you taste the salt in the stale air . . .


You wonder, that’s all. Such a hounding. Such shiver.
But what’s a tadpole
                                        to a God-spewed river?


The White Flags That, for Years, You Took to Mean Surrender

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