- Inadvertent Mousetrap, and: The Roman Names, and: Marbles
The moon doesn't look different despite our having been there. That's the exception. Even the slopes of Everest are stained with urine and the bodies of fallen climbers. Just look at Brooklyn. It used to be farms, and before that, forests. Last November I stood a bottle in the shed. By the time the lilacs had broken out, the bottle was full of dead mice. It's just another story, another attempt at tranquility, undone by our lightest touch. [End Page 179]
The Roman Names
Zeus became Jupiter and so forth. That was the first diminishment. Then Christianity seeped in and cracked the boulder of Rome. When you lose territory to the god of meekness, it's hard to keep your swagger. The temples fell into disrepair. The ash on the altars washed away. True, the planets still bear the Roman names, but how many of us notice them as we're taking our taxi down the esplanade? How many of us can even be certain they are not merely stars? [End Page 180]
At a certain point "manic depression" became "bipolar disorder." The world has always been in flux. Just look at the sky. There are fewer stars now than when I was a boy. I cannot say who took them; I cannot remember the pictures that they made. Consider Istanbul. It used to be Constantinople, and before that Byzantium. Nothing endures. I had a jaw that men wanted to punch. Now the ground I stand upon feels like it's made of marbles. In Wyoming, they've just begun hunting the grizzly bear again. It is finally safe enough to be killed. I can't get over it. My teeth were once a dazzling white, all three of my brothers were living. [End Page 181]
charles rafferty's twelfth collection of poems is The Smoke of Horses. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Prairie Schooner and has won the 2016 NANO Prize. He directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.