Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Poem: "A Mad Fight Song for William S. Carpenter, 1966" by James Wright


Varus, varus, gib mir meine Legionen wieder

Quick on my feet in those Novembers of my loneliness,

I tossed a short pass,

Almost the instant I got the ball, right over the head

Of Barrel Terry before he knocked me cold.


When I woke, I found myself crying out

Latin conjugations, and the new snow falling

At the edge of a green field.


Lemoyne Crone had caught the pass, while I lay

Unconscious and raging

Alone with the fire ghost of Catullus, the contemptuous graces tossing

Garlands and hendecasyllabics over the head

Of Cornelius Nepos the mastodon,

The huge volume.


At the edges of Southeast Asia this afternoon

The quarterbacks and the lines are beginning to fall,

A spring snow,


And terrified young men

Quick on their feet

Lob one another’s skulls across

Wings of strange birds that are burning

Themselves alive.

by James Wright


For more information about poet, James Wright, see:


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