Today's poem is by William Delman

In 1986 My Uncle Jack Sits On His Front Porch

Brown Stetson. As the shadows draw on detritus
he thinks of Dionysus, Pentheus; and his son
immured in some Florida library,
with a man's name on his lips.
Thunder pounds its taiko drum,
over the twilight downpour. In nine days,
Jack will learn that the liver is the organ of anger
from his old Chinese doctor. But now
rolls a smoke and remembers a kid.

Voice or dream, whatever alcoholic nocturne
it is that knots self into self; Hecuba and Paris pled:
burn it. So you fell into a nationless meandering.
The mind entrapped first in Florida
took off for Alaska, then all fifty before
your brief stay at St. Francis. In your version,
Telmachus ran off with the swine-herder,
Penelope enjoyed the suitors
and Odysseus knew enough to stay missing.

The miles traveled as an addiction,
stories like birds flap off your tongue:
one aspect of your generic cirrhosis.
A barred witness, I imagine the hospice,
my teacher of epics, exo-theory,
Joshu's damn dog, barely coherent,
received into the passing of transparent myths,
composing the first line of his death poem:
Elpenor walks into a bar. . . .

Slurring off the stool—you bet a guy
that you could still recite the Diamond Sutra
from memory—which prejudicial jack-knife was it,
or some cocktail of her salary and his choice?
Without words, and without silence; no tincture
could obliterate the failings you recognized,
but couldn't let go. We hefted your body limp
into the back scat, a fallen oarsman
by the herds of Hellos, and took you home.

Copyright © 2007 William Delman All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

Support Verse Daily
Sponsor Verse Daily!

Home    Archives   Web Monthly Features    About Verse Daily   FAQs  Submit to Verse Daily   Publications Noted & Received  

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved