Poem in San Pedro River Review

San Pedro River Review, Vol. 1 No. 2I received my contributor’s copy of San Pedro River Review today. This, their second issue, features emerging and established voices from the rural Heartland and the wild Southwest–brimming with Studebakers, bandannas, milk cows, and greasy spoons. Strange company for my tribute poem to the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, wherein I give birth to a twin brother for his “Mr. Cogito” persona in a poem called “Mr. Ergosum Speaks.” Still, this character somehow seems to fit in to such rough-and-ready company, like a sly European gunslinger in a Western saloon.

Sadly, something must have gone awry with my email submission, as not all of the line breaks came out quite right. I didn’t think to ask for a galley. And so, for those of you who might wonder, I include the correctly-formatted text of the poem, below. Despite this minor nuisance (a peril of the electronic age), the issue came out terrific overall. You can pick up all forty six pages of delicious new poems from Antigone Books or Mostly Books in Tucson, Arizona or from Bart’s Books in Ojai, California–or order your copy by mail using the address on their website. It will no doubt turn out to be the best six bucks you’ve spent in awhile.

And now, the poem:

Mr. Ergosum Speaks
(after Zbigniew Herbert)

None of it matters. Let me say
that again: once, it mattered, and now,
when I snap my fingers, only dust.

That absurd cake! Justice. How it tilts
in layers on its pedestal, while party-goers
observe, “how remarkably straight.”

My hat is a chimney, chugging with promise.
What I think becomes soft smoke in the dampened air.
My coattails wave a continual flurry of goodbyes.

The nineteenth century was my favorite. Yes,
I have seen them all, through my monocle–
the one present I kept from the deposed Czar.

All of it matters, of course, actually, to the ants
on the sidewalk, hustling their minuscule lives.
Who can tell if they are small or just far away?

I wipe a tear from the corner of my eye.
The air, full of soot, encourages such weeping.
I wear a monogrammed kerchief in place of a heart.