Today's poem is by John Hennessy

        for Landis Everson

Who'd envy buff but languid Antinous,
the boy he was, a body pricked
by business ends of grappling hooks,
the god revived by an emperor's kiss?
His organs gutted, pickled in ceramics,
he became the Nile's bluest fish,
last in the Pantheon, a stellar dish,
saucer to cup-running Ganymede.
Whether he loved compulsively
or on compulsion, lovingly he
stroked, swam the river until it emptied.
Hadrian built a city there, another
where water meets sky and rushes slit
the wind like spear points, guarding his share
of gilded horizon. The legs they shaved
and painted liquid gold are splayed
across the moon in Saturn's orbit;
midsummer, tenth hour, his torso flares,
abs scored by meteors, his hair
delivers its river of stars. The vine
he climbs was borrowed from Dionysus,
throne from Osiris, bow from Orion,
anemone from Adonis;
the face alone (clear brow, debauched lips
squaring lax contrapposto) may be all his.
He's served as many gods, and often been
all things to all men. So many men.
But here's a new Antinous,
and another again, a cipher, zero, screen,
he populates his own necropolis,
the circumstances of his death
a mirror to the mystery of his love.
And whether he's come by accident
or intent, we know exactly what he's made of—
he's gorgeously pouting , tense or spent,
in leopard-skin cape, leonine boa,
he's epic and song, some hammered coin,
an incantation of infinite function,
Parian marble in endless reproduction.

Copyright © 2013 John Hennessy All rights reserved
from Coney Island Pilgrims
The Ashland Poetry Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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