Home > 22. Local Poets, Local Heroes > Little Apocalypse, a poem

Little Apocalypse, a poem

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RT has been uncharacteristically silent these past few months as various matters tangential to his writing but nonetheless important (for instance, his health) have continued to preoccupy him. The good news is that he has made significant progress on tablets 5 and 6 of Gilgamesh, hoping to finish the poem by fall. He has even at odd moments set down a brief poem.

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This particular piece was inspired by Peregrine, the recently (and first) published collection of fellow scribbler, Tom Donlon. Tom’s impeccable craftsmanship and domestic themes have won RT’s admiration, especially since his poems have a way of opening out on broader perspectives.  Sadly, Peregrine (Franciscan University of Steubenville) is not commercially available, but the poem that sparked this piece, “Tsunami” is available in the collection, ONLY THE SEA KEEPS: Poetry of the Tsunami (Bayeux Arts, 2005, available on Amazon). 

A fine poet and a fine collection. Here is RT’s response:

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little
apocalypse

(for Tom Donlon)

the voice of the day proceeds carefully

through the clouds, the

ritual of its trajectory a carpenter’s pencil

sketching out the pilot in his craft, the

child tottering through its first step, the

ballet lessons and headless Barbies. 

the

stillness of sermon, like sitting in traffic 

on route 9, tsunami of grace overwhelming 

the driver, pushing aside everything else, 

leaving 

only the fact of its words shining in the long

silence, to be approached on knee over 

snow, rough tezontle stone,

tearing postulant flesh—almost as 

if with obsidian knife, the truth pouring out—

as once before jadeite gods opulent

in the carven glyph, now overturned

in the high, thin air glinting with dust.

Malinalli
, our lady of waving grass, 

Marina, one of the native gift to Cortés;

the horse rearing muscular like an angel,

panicked eye, flaring nostril—

Calmese! the ships are burning.
 

Copyright, Eric Quinn, 2017

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Drawing: Cortes and Mallinali meet Mocteczuma II, November 9, 1519. Unknown Aztec artist. Public Domain. 

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  1. August 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    A delight of words and image.

    • August 14, 2017 at 12:51 am

      Thanks as always. I would add that Tom wrote Tsunami while standing in traffic on the way to work, a datum that may make the poem a bit easier to follow.

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