After the Carnage
By Tom Daley
Venus and Jupiter colluding
in the cool tureen of the summer solstice.
And the killer with his pageboy haircut,
resolute as dusty jewels or red pepper,
the myrrh of his indignation
preserving the farewell shock
in the irises of his intended.
His hole-filled, diverted eyes rotting
the fabric of the tabernacle.
His mad infusion of ideology
and skitter cricket. Crossing
state lines like an errant thermometer,
a lightning strike rousing
all the humid vigils of Africa.
Devil caught in mid-air
when his parachute failed to open.
Angel of the supremacist inkwells,
bleached into the battle flag
which stays at full mast
while the crescent moon
numbs its horns,
gnomic and consequential.
Tom Daley’s poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, 32 Poems, Fence, Denver Quarterly, Crazyhorse, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, Witness, Poetry Ireland Review and elsewhere. Recipient of the Dana Award in Poetry and the Charles and Fanny Fay Wood Prize from the Academy of American Poets, he is the author of two plays, Every Broom and Bridget—Emily Dickinson and Her Irish Servants and In His Ecstasy—The Passion of Gerard Manley Hopkins, which he performs as one-man shows. FutureCycle Press published his first-full length collection of poetry, House You Cannot Reach—Poems in the Voice of My Mother and Other Poems, in the summer of 2015. He leads writing workshops in the Boston area and online for poets and writers working in creative prose.
Tom, this is a absolutely one your best, and I’m sure i’m not the only one who’s said it. ” Lightening strike rousing all the humid vigils of Africa” is so very powerful! Your poetry continues to shine and impact! A hundred bravos to you! Kay in Wayland
you had me from Venus and Jupiter colliding all the way to gnomic and consequential. I admire you for doing justice to an act so horrific in a timely way where I can also let myself read it. Thank you, Tom.
Tom, this is terrific. Thank you for sending out the email link. Best line ‘Angels of the supremacist inkwells’, but so many gems.
Thank you Tom for posting this. It’s an event we need to be reminded of often.
As always, as a poet (and playwright, teacher and everything else) you are right on the mark–in a uniquely memorable, valuable, powerful way.
The more I see and know of what you do, the more I appreciate your many gifts to the creative and thinking world.
Board member, Boston National Poetry Month Festival
You have captured something so scarring here–with your customary brilliance for the unexpected, yet connected, image. “Pageboy haircut,” with its accompanying medieval jewels, leads us to the lovely “myrrh of his imagination–” and myrrh’s “bitter perfume,” as I know from the holiday hymn, “breathes a life of gathering gloom.” And the eyes that can “rot/the tactic of the tabernacle” ARE the eyes I see in his mug shots. And I’ll just end with my love for the image of “skitter cricket.” The sonic and emotional echoes bump into each other and multiply.
“The irises of his intended”: not a pun, but a ruthless variation on the romantic associations of one’s “intended.” This followed immediately by “His hole-filled, diverting eyes,” which puts me exactly in mind of the mug shot-like picture of him that was so often published. Thanks for bringing this to us.
Tom, thank you for sharing the link and posting of this poem. The final line “gnomic and consequential” was a one,two punch of truth. Please keep writing, teaching and sharing your work. With good thoughts…
Thanks for sharing this important response, Tom. If ever there were a time for political poems, now is the hour. The particular horror of this church slaughter of welcoming people needs to be remembered and mourned. These lines: “the myrrh of his indignation preserving the farewell shock in the irises of his intended” bring home the killings is a fine visceral way. Congratulations on this. Dolores.
So many incredible lines Tom I won’t quote them but this if there’s any lyrical justice in this world, your poem speaks to the pain many feel and cannot call down. Thank you.
Tom. Another wonder from your pen. We’ll have singular points of resonsance to your pointed phrasings. My father, commander of a field Army Hospital in USAR in 1942, penned a mini-memoir, of which I have fragments of a copy. Memorable was the flag flying over the POW enclave over which he had command. He took exception to their displaying a swastika there and then. It seems his view prevailed in due course.
Last Saturday I brought an inkwell to David Square, hoping to cross pens with you. I’ll bring it again soon. -Malcolm, son of RK Brown MD