Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Panel (a poem)

(W. W. I Engraving)

Why does the one heave between his shoulders
a sack full of bees, staggering under the  imperious din
of their queen, or is the infliction simply fatigue
which has laid down fully the one face up
while the others obey an obscure command, leaving
under the shaded blur of the tree the trench
which might actually be a grave, but no, this is wartime
a trench then, gaping but not a grave, the difference,
just timing or chance shaking blossoms
from a dogwood full of daylight in spring, the difference
mere words, yet how we name the dead, build the given:
poppy and love-letter, pepper, and neck-bone,
so the head might turn at mention of the far,
which as we know takes root finally, one way
or another, the distance which blossoms in the body at last:
wide shore, dazzling kingdom, a friend or an older brother
pausing ahead, still waiting to be caught up to. 

-Christopher Volpe


  1. Chris - I tried locating the poem online with no luck. The soldier standing under the tree appears to be wearing an Australian soldier's type headgear. Two of the fellows in the trench also appear to have similar headgear. Can you shed some light about this poem and where the depicted scene is supposed to be?


    1. Hi Ed -I confess that I'm the author of the enigmatic little dirge. I don't know anything about the origin of the engraving - it must have popped up online during some search or other and for whatever reason, it inspired the surreal meditation you see before you. I wrote it some years ago and only rediscovered and revised it yesterday.