This poem originally appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of The Antioch Review.
THE UNFINISHED SLAVEby Bruce BondAfter Michelangelo
The man we see writhing in the marble,
what is he without the strength of all
we do not see. A slave, we are told,
though to what: the rock, the king, the world
that, cut or uncut, we can’t remember.
To be distinct, chiseled as a number
across a grave, that was his dream once.
If only he could shake the rough stone
from his back, instead of being one.
Or if he stood naked before the tomb
he was meant to guard, perhaps then
he would wear a god’s glass complexion.
As is, he is abstract, and so closer
to us, to the life that makes a future
the anticipated past, our heads half
buried, blind, disfigured by the stuff
to which we owe our restlessness, our art.
The hand that carves its figure in the slate
abandons it, thinking it will lie
beneath its work some day, beneath a sky
that refuses to commit, to lift.
It’s in there somewhere, whatever’s left
of those who drive a hammer into us.
With every blow, a little bloom of dust
flies. Time keeps its promise to itself.
Bruce Bond is the author of fifteen books including six forthcoming: Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (University of Michigan Press), For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize,University of Tampa Press), Gold Bee (Crab Orchard Open Competition Award, Southern Illinois Press), Sacrum (Four Way Books), and The Other Sky (Etruscan Press). Presently he is Regents Professor at University of North Texas.
This poem is from the Winter 2012 issue of The Antioch Review.
CIRQUE MIDNIGHT AND BEYOND
by Angie Hogan
Two hands on
one pedestal, free-
standing, I curl in
on myself, tail
scorpioned. Your comparison
then, the four‑legged clown,
carries his own limp
appendages in a basketed
balloon. If this turns out
to be more than less
than a dream, do you
try to wipe the acrobat’s
thick black do not pass
lines from the basin
of my eyes? A mime’s dart
sinks you like bait.
And svelte feet still,
negotiating rope’s void.
Then I do not need forgiveness.
I have had my fevered revenge.
Angie Hogan’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Hudson Review, The Journal, Ploughshares, Quarterly West, Subtropics, The Threepenny Review, and Western Humanities Review, among other journals. She lives near Charlottesville and works in the acquisitions department at the University of Virginia Press.
This poem first appeared in The Antioch Review, Winter 2014 issue.
by Ralph Tejeda Wilson
And here I am thinking a thought.
I'm thinking & drinking & feeling blue. I'm feeling blue, and
it ain't around midnight. It's later than midnight. Darker than midnight.
Darker than me feeling blue, than me feeling brown, than me feeling down,
than me feeling half-Mexican.
And I've been feeling half-Mexican all damn day.
I've been working and playing hard and somewhere along the way
tore some cartilage requiring some stitching, some hydrocodone & sitting
still, and now listening to some jazz and blues: to Coltrane, Miles, Theloni-
ous, and poor Chet Baker packed in ice.
Meaning them, meaning myself.
Who can't heal under the poultice poured from a pure horn? Who
can't heal under the weave of Monk's bandaged fingers as they pluck the
bones down to the song, to the fret and stammer and stop of the ivory keys
God keeps dangling down & down & down.
Blues is for keeping, but jazz is for getting up,
at least in dream where I kept it with the coats of many colors
and prophecies of uncles that the half-brown boy by way of Anglo-sax
would never steer deeper than this steady mud.
What'd you'd think
the weddo was thinking?
All this time steeping myself in the classics: living my
lush life straight with no chaser, getting lost among autumn leaves & funny
valentines, and drinking in that bitches’ brew (which was not one of my
favorite things), until I finally caught the blue train & fell right into a love
Do you drift & get the drift
of the play & patter of that fat sweet horn?
Do you get the drift
under your feet, maybe onto the floor, or figure, if you're a fat cat, the fix
laid in of eight balls or teen-agers dancing the dirty cut
anyways unto their own sublimes?
Meanwhile Miles is climbing & climbing
farther & farther out, chasing Bird or bluing
dreamily into empty spaces where meaning flowers
between the notes & brass begins to melt
under the hush of the high-hat & brush brush brush
of the lambskin snare soft as a lotus petal where my mind keeps going
on toward almond skin and Cupid’s lips
& white or brown some swinging hips
coming back to me like Buddha or maybe
Basho under his banana tree whittling down to seventeen syllables the sentiment
the same way Miles is breathing each note through the temple bell of his horn.
Who can't heal under the poultice poured from a pure horn?
Who can't walk out to meet John wading in the river?
and/or my love of the contrary inside the coincidental,
which is just the kind of shit one says
on hydrocodone without a filter, while listening to Coltrane
becoming contrary inside the coincidental.
That fat sweet horn
has got my number: which is three for no other reason than the Biblical
& umbilical lack of attention I keep feeling I have not received.
A love supreme,
a love supreme, a love supreme . . . .
And the rhythm of rain falling on the slats of
the porch & roof. And now some thunder & the weatherman on muted TV
tracking funnels across Alabama, as I lie here in bed, crutches against the
wall, a glass of gin on the night table & an endless loop of Coltrane, Miles,
Thelonious, and poor Chet Baker packed in ice, meaning them, meaning
myself falling down the rabbit hole toward morning.
For Jeff Cebulski
Ralph Tejeda Wilson is a Professor of English at Kennesaw State University and a graduate faculty member of the Masters of Arts in Professional Writing program. He was awarded the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Poetry in 2002 for his book, A Black Bridge (University of Nevada Press). He has published work in numerous literary journals.