Four Poems

by George Moore

In the Days of the Flood

and in the days before the Great Flood
the minister is saying

but I am drifting off on the undifferentiated
current of his accusations

on my own small wooden ship of a pew
a Viking searching trees on the horizon

for trees are more valuable than land
and my cramped legs tucked up under me

on a shield beneath my bony bum
and he goes on in praise of sacrifice

like our ship were on fire and headed out
into the still water of an eternal lake

and I am so hungry I could peel the gum
from beneath the pew

and the minister’s voice tastes of tin and ash
and my Viking gods of mist and ice

and the sun cannot shine through
but its rope of light suddenly descends

into the stillness of the cathedral
and I climb to the freedom of a Sunday afternoon


Reading Georg Trakl

Reading by this light is like
seeing in the dark

the warm dark of your hair
the moist dark of your mouth

But you still haven’t said anything
and I’m forever waiting

under an elder tree bare of leaves
where the moon gets caught

tangled in a difficult time
when we could not be separated

And now that the rush of summer is over
and we can settle down

each in his own dark furrow
each the reflection of an empty park

and each with their purpose
as you cross the road from Starbucks

steam angels in your palms
woman bringing a beating heart

the cold northland thawing
to the promised land


The Loved One

                    After William Prescott by way of C.P. Cavafy

For a full year he’s loved in exaltation
carried through the streets by the crowd

wherever he goes whatever he does
up the narrow steps of the pyramids

through the halls of the stone temples
carried on the bare shoulders of the men

everyone adores him and he’s bathed in wine
and covered with mimosas and the Flamboyan Real

Washed by the most beautiful citizens of the city
whoever he chooses whoever catches his eye

feel themselves blessed to be chosen
the love of a god for the boy is truly Tezcatlipoca

he who was most beautiful among the captives
the quiet one untouched by blood

A poet sees his face as the reflection of a cloud
and at year’s end one last time

he is bathed and dressed in royal finery
and carried through the streets in a rain of flowers

and to the cheers of blind adoration
until the priest lifts his heart beating

from his immaculate chest
to feed the hungry gods


Zoo of Sighs

                        for Rosemary Tonks

I would like to share the son
I have never had with a few friends

so that their journeys toward gravity
might be complimented by that pain

only a fallen apple can imagine
I would allow them to take him

to the zoo for a single day
when his eyes big were as balloons

with elephants and kangaroos
twice his size and orangutans all

within the steel fences of a cloudless day
Then I would fold my umbrella

into a fin and pretend
once again that I was his Stegosaurus

and watch from the edge of a giant pit
where the bears rock back and forth

and remember although I am
already starting to forget

the day he was born before their poems
became the stones of a road

where no one goes anymore

George Moore’s poetry collections include Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FurureCycle 2016). He has published in Arc, Poetry, Colorado Review, The Atlantic, and Orion. A finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Brittingham Award, and recently longlisted for the Gregory O’Donoghue and Ginkgo Prizes, he lives with his wife, a Canadian poet, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

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