Listen to Stephen Massimilla read "Northern Anniversary":
Willow banks of Scotland are phantom fountains
thinned in wind; coal-black spires of Glasgow
still whispering near stacks, hills and mountains
mooned in green haloes, the last sky now
behind us. Blue mist fills our quiet terrace
as we stare down toward a blooded maze of walls
under bells that cloak the orange sun in blackness.
Friend to itself, but otherwise odd, what appalls
is her whisper: it is sober, and the gas lamps
float in schools—no hopes, no flagrant dead.
I wish I could tell her that what stamps
out the fire was wine that had gone... to her head
and so remind us: don’t survive. Relax,
as winter closes in behind our backs.
Listen to Stephen Massimilla read "Apocalyptic Swan":
Swan—your molten neck
flexes like a tube of handblown glass,
Venician sunset rebirth
where a torch-strewn palace sinks.
You're the flame
of rapture in the loins of Jupiter.
Yes, the ghost of Juliet, the Grace
of suicide, and Nemesis, Cassandra, Rama, Krishna,
death-in-life, an oily slick that plunges
from a heaving tank of crude. Leviathan has
capsized and the Swan has come up black!
Anhinga, drape us in your wings.
Deliver us from evil. It is midnight;
the plague has struck; the gourd is rot;
the ancient world is snow-heaped,
and our bird poems deep in paper.
All your homeland has to offer
is a crippled aqueduct of swans,
Ledaen echoes paddling past
the wreckage of Parnassus.
You, who split the Cosmos
in the egg white of your eye:
Look to the Pacific for your signet,
white “S” by an atoll that reeks of iridescent
black. That neck is not your missus’s
plunging under, rippling wide. The tail comes up atomic,
buoyed by a trillion feathered cupids. Mister,
won't you take her for your bride?
Stephen Massimilla is a writer, critic, and painter. His books include Forty Floors from Yesterday, which won the Bordighera Prize, the Grolier Poetry Prize, and others. He has new work in many print and online journals, including Agni, Denver Quarterly, and Grey Sparrow. He teaches literature at Columbia University. View his website at stephenmassimilla.com.