Monday, October 05, 2009


History is a totem pole, and I am
looking down on it, from the top

of a Roman amphitheater that is
built upon Etruscan foundations.

Below that, nameless skeletons
grimace at the weight on their shoulders.

And one rises up. There is a man
in tattered rags, who looks as ancient

as the stones that surround him,
who emerges from the remains

of an underground tomb, screaming.
Another man appears from behind

an archway, roaring in reply.
Perhaps they are drunks, irritated by

the constant flow of tourists past
their make-shift homes, or maybe,

I consider as I flee past hotels,
mini marts, and billboards in this

most ancient of cities, maybe
history is furious enough

to rise up from its tomb and
scream, and scream, and scream.

Get your poem on:


Derrick said...

Hi Nathan,

You have woven this poem so well, it doesn't show its seams! There must be many ancient sites where history feels like screaming.

rbarenblat said...

This is wonderful -- and I agree with the previous commentor: it's very nearly seamless. :-)

Cynthia Short said...

I really enjoyed this piece...the thought of our ugly, modern and very transient society building upon something much greater...and the past rising forth in despair...GREAT!

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering which animal you are, looking down. I like the two spirit/drunks frightening poetic tourists back into the present.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of history as a "totem pole" and how you sketch that out among real ruins. The image of homeless or derelict men as mummies from the past chasing someone past "minimarts and billboards" in an ancient city is an ironic and potent one.

Linda said...

Quit digging stuff up and moving it. How will anyone in the future know from where anything came?
It's all getting too messed up. The remains have a right to scream. I really like your meshed poem. Questions like which is older the totem pole or the amphitheater come to mind. You have given much to consider in this seamless package of meshed poetry. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ah, would that history could scream. What an insult to culture and the past we have left as a footnote to the present. This poem intrigued me and entertained with the vision you created. I enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

I really love the last three couplets - they bring the dreamy sequence of the poem smack into reality.

Tumblewords: said...

I so wish it would rise up and scream. A fine read!

Wayne Pitchko said...

very nice read

gautami tripathy said...

It is so seamless..


Erin Davis said...

This works so well as a single poem. I am jealous! The last two stanzas especially blew me away.