October 2, 2013

Dan Albergotti

A BRIEF HISTORY OF POETRY

All day the man threw the stick for the dog.
All day the dog brought it back. The beetles
crawled on the branches of small trees, and clouds
drifted along without being noticed.
The man threw the stick. The dog brought it back.

The trilobites scuttled along the floors
of the oceans, the crocodiles crawled out
of the rivers to sun, the mastodons
died off, and the cheetahs stalked the gazelles.
All day the man threw the stick for the dog.

The Phoenicians contrived an alphabet,
and Sophocles wrote some plays. The Romans
raped and pillaged and crucified. The Huns
did what they could to leave a mark themselves.
The man threw the stick. The dog brought it back.

A splinter got lodged in the flesh, a mote
got stuck in an eye, and some angels danced
on the head of a pin. Some babies died
of malnutrition on this golden earth.
All day the man threw the stick for the dog.

A crowd gathered to watch the dog and man
play their game. But the dog and man saw it
as work. They knew everything was at stake.
With each throw the man sent the stick farther.
The man threw the stick. The dog brought it back.

The atom was split, an ant moved a grain
of sand seven yards, and the Khmer Rouge
rose and fell. And somewhere along the way
the dog disappeared, and only the stick
returned to the man. A moment’s magic.

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
Tribute to Southern Poets

__________

Dan Albergotti (South Carolina): “They just seemed like lines of type on a page at first. And then John Keats was in the room with me. He was still in the ground in Rome, but he was in the room with me too, holding out his living hand, palm up. How could I refuse such an invitation to transcend?”