November 14, 2012

James Valvis

Firing Squad

Most hide their delight
darkly from themselves,

hide from defeat
when it is the fruit

of any decent taunting
of vacuous belonging,

hide when facing
the firing squad,

one assassin standing
and one kneeling,

rows like metered feet.
Demand not a duller fate.

A man is only a man
up against the wall,

accepting the cigarette,
refusing the blindfold.

Our Greatest Play

Perhaps you do not know
Shakespeare wrote Hamlet
a few years after his son,
Hamnet, died at age eleven.
It is often this way:
from the greatest grief
comes the greatest art.
Though it need not happen.
I too have suffered sadness
enough to buckle an Atlas
and yet have never penned
anything close to a Hamlet.
Undoubtedly you also know
what it means to despair
but your soulful soliloquies
are not swooned over.
All the many mountains of hurt
humanity has piled into its history--
yet there has been but one Hamlet,
written over 400 years ago.
It's a testament to Shakespeare
and his melancholic Dane
when we read or watch the play
all our pain seems worth it.

This Is Just to Admit

after William Carlos Williams

I did not really eat
the plums that were
in the icebox

as you well know
I hate fruit
especially plums

no, it's just I knew
you were saving them
for breakfast

and we had quarreled
so I threw them
into the trash

forgive me
but revenge is delicious
so sweet

and so cold.


James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). If you don't buy it, small children will pelt you with rocks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love it! I hated that original poem with a distinct passion because of how vague and pointless it was, and your play on it made it so much more direct. Great job. =)