trucks, night watchmen, lost cats, abandoned dogs.
The study window is knee-deep in frost.
To be snug, sometimes, is sin.
Wandering with his yarns of waves
Heaving heavenwards heroes' hulls,
Of sword-oaths swiftly sworn,
Shattered shields and lopped limbs
Stuck in blood-pooled battlefields,
Tales of dragons dragging men to devour
In dens dug deep in Danish dirt,
Skald staggers, stumbling into snow,
lordless, frozen, and forlorn.
A rapper's vanity is rhyme
And meter that keeps perfect time.
Ferociously he barks a story
Glorifying his own glory.
Spiders from their guts extrude
Intricate skeins to snare their food:
To the trapped flies, all webs are rude.
His colleagues at the bank smirked when they learned
Hanson wrote verse.
They thought it like hugging oaks or cooking quiche;
Not on their lives
Would they poetize, worse than collecting
stamps or stocks-or wives.
"So, I hear the banker amuses himself with poetry?"
scoffed the president's son.
Hanson smiled, put down the phone, drew himself
up with pride.
"No," he replied. "The poet diverts himself with banking
on the side."
Academic poets flock to their retreats,
careful not to mistake commoners for lords,
hot for chapbook publishers, fighting
back the urge to quote themselves and the inkling
that the only good bard is a dead one.
Sooner or later the finest Chinese
poets were all banished to the boondocks.
The weak, bitterly sentimental, wrote
eastward-facing lamentations while the
strong opened their eyes on fresh landscapes, threw
their arms around new subjects.
children's rice songs and lyrics on medlar trees,
verses dense as bamboo forests, Li-du his
On A Peasant's Wife Giving Birth Beside Her Sow.
They say the great Chu-po bravely quipped, "It's
the Emperor who's in exile from Chu-po."
In the cold Bulgaria of his soul, on
the shore of a black-flowing Danuvius,
he sees himself metamorphosed from
lion to exile, feels himself bursting
with unsung verses, bereft of listeners,
rivals, even critics. How does one resign
oneself to the exile of one iron desk
and to a doubtful immortality?
Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University's College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his recent novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction.
"Loaded with wit, bristling irony, draped in erudition and studded with metaphysics": so wrote The New York Times Book Review about Robert Wexelblatt's work.
This warm and witty novel of ideas shows that goodness is possible-and in Zublinka palpable-but that goodness is seldom unalloyed. As Zublinka and we learn in the course of this richly rewarding story, the discovery of truth and one's self is the work of a lifetime. Wisdom is possible and hard won.