Aftermath

(After rereading To the Lighthouse)

Almost dealt:
the decisive stroke of sword, of brush, of pen,

of light. The rhythm of the beam, its music,

and the drumming in the attic no longer echo gusts

passing through a cloud streaked with lightning

and chaos. Now there are just these little nails of rain.

Reading of the battle and voyage of Aeneas

to that metric tapping on the roof, dream on,
old poet, Augustus Carmichael. The navy ink
of experience re-turns

to its impossible blue. Past that, the gemlike hint of sun

followed by a new kind of penumbra, the next day,

the bootless shadow of the hat
crossing the page, nothing

but a shade of thought,
of that time of evening, of dusk, when the old world

hangs in the balance, the wind
picking up, the towels lifting,

as if just before daybreak,

the stout white liners pushing out
under squabbling gulls, my nib, and where

the sky clears out, the word.

 

About the Author

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award, and others. His recent collection, The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, was selected in the Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize contest, and his volume Almost a Second Thought was runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy. He has also received the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday (CUNY); the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; multiple Pushcart Prize nominations; and other honors. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and The New School.