When the Art No Longer Remains. 3 Poems by Ralph Monday

Rome’s Mythic Hills

Among  Rome's mythic hills 
this is what I told you:
The Moon is an old and silver rimmed lover,
blood burned pewter at night prowling
the Colosseum's sands.
Why are Americans so savage?
Look to the wolf nature engendered by Rome,
bird Auguries spun into DNA across a
time never ended. The world did not
become dark. The wolf retired to her lair
and slept while the West went into
supernatural amnesia.
Reason and fancy are strange bedfellows.
Shall you undergo Inquisition? Perhaps
it's been following all of us.
Come now, take my hand. Let us 
stroll through these familiar ruins, Faustina.
Soon the mother of the world will be dead.

Bring Us Soft Graces

If we only could achieve a kind
of grace,
to love and feast as the ancients
did, like gods turning in bed on
Mt. Olympus.

I think we both have long been
(futilely) looking for Plato’s sphere
but we can’t even find half an orange
to piece back together, let alone imagine a
future spoken out in syncopated syllables.
If we could we would incarnate both spirit
and flesh in moments undarkened by
the past pains that others have brought.

But one can never escape those textured
times, for what we were always walks
with us, like shadows cast on a yellowed

The body we once had is not the
flesh we now carry, for the cells
replace every seven years. The
mind that we once had has been
tempered with interactions of others
where we listened to their foolish

Abstracted form does hold meaning,
and that is what we have become: a
type of fragmented cubism rendered up
in 1920s Paris.

If only we could embrace soft
graces. If only we could make the
pieces fit a new puzzle. 

Ah, wouldn’t it be pretty to think

When the Art No Longer Remains

Seventeen turned to thirty-five
deep in the troughs of his own tides
he will presently forget the nights and days 
with her, the shared moons from month to

The tales that they created, moments of
ice and fire, of victories on the playing
fields, defeats that were ignored.

Stories can only carry so far, before they
settle into mystery and myth, into buried
layer after layer, where they change,
through the years and move us back to

truck headlights knifing the dark on the
interstate, to going down to the still
waters and drinking, to wash off the
deep sins that can never be winter white.

They weren’t really battles, no
dark ages crusades, merely seasonal
skirmishes that neither knew the meaning

I have seen many autumns with Bradford leaves
blazed and burnt reds, oranges, and yellows,
the ripened pear and apple, leaves burnt
with frost, foliage like some randomly
thrown design, an Arabian carpet thick
with memory, desire.

Is there a Mind producing a Design?
This is a mystery that cannot be
plumbed, only hinted at by art, and
we never had a design, only a random
blueprint made up as we went along. 


Ralph Monday is Professor of English at RSCC in Harriman, TN. Hundreds of poems published. Books: Al l American Girl and Other Poems, 2014. Empty Houses and American Renditions, 2015. Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015. Bergman’s Island & Other Poems, 2021, The Book of Appalachia 2023, and a humanities text, 2018. Member Lincoln Memorial University Literary Hall of Fame. Twitter @RalphMonday Poets&Writers https://www.pw.org/directory/writers/ralph_monday

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Transfigured Face. Bilingual Poems from Spanish by Ángel Huerga


don’t want		not to go		don’t want
can’t		not be		no
dancing to this blood divides
sequences dreams cloud by cloud
enclosed behind fingers		last night
crossed the pavement on the corner
perplexed to see you again on the screen
as if someone had been silhouetted against the sky
or a bulldozer had piled up all the light of the slowness as it passed through


no quiero 			no ir 		no quiero
no puedo 		no estar 	no
bailar en esta sangre divide 
secuencia el sueño nube a nube
enrejado entre dedos			anoche
crucé la acera	justo en la esquina
perplejo al re-mirarte en la pantalla
como si hubiera ido surgiendo alguien en lo alto
o una excavadora hubiera apilado toda la luz de lo lento al pasar 

where you touch is not mine		i just want
you to be an other		willing to explore something new
perhaps what used to be constant 	may explode into shared fire 		
the helipad where we used to get dressed
i just want		the fuel of breath	breath		breath
to flare up


donde tocas no es mío		pretendo	
que seas otro		para algo nuevo que explorar
quizá explosione en incendio común	   lo que solía ser constante
la helisuperficie donde solíamos vestirnos
solo pretendo 		que sea brote
el combustible de respirar	respirar	respirar 

he kept on talking about movies
amenabar		juliette binoche		cary grant
alice in wonderland
[alice’s adventures under ground]
sit down		tie my shoes
he pretended to fly like an airplane 	    with his arms outstretched 
north by northwest
get on your knees 		why are you crying?
did I tell you not to go? 

[I have all your pictures and emails.
And don’t tell me you have no father, ‘cause I know he goes by Arturo and 
he’s a delivery man.
I have all the information needed for the danse macabre to start.
Will you please take off your t-shirt?]


hablaba de cine
amenabar		juliette binoche		cary grant
alicia en el país de las maravillas
[las aventuras de alicia bajo tierra]
siéntate			átame los cordones
imitaba el vuelo de un avión		con los brazos extendidos
con la muerte en los talones
ponte de rodillas			¿por qué lloras?
¿te he dicho yo que no puedes irte?	

[Tengo todas tus fotos y tus correos. 
Y no me digas que no tienes padre porque sé que se llama Arturo y que 
es repartidor de café. 
Tengo toda la información necesaria para que empiece la danse macabre. 
¿Puedes subirte la camiseta?] 
                                                       to the seasoned traveller
                                                       a destination is
                                                       at best
                                                       a rumour

the real issue is 
how to locate the narrative line that allows for a beamline beneath the door
we’re talking about infinite degrees of freedom here
you can rotate it
it’ll remain in the same place
do we know the rules? who’s up or down? who’s at the steering wheel?
we can look for (all the) tracks in the carpet
the traces they left we left		a return covenant	       quizá
blah blah blah 		blah blah blah
line = broken line
we retrace our steps and nothing is familiar nothing
which crossbars will be forded		by our caesura?

                                                   para el viajero con experiencia
                                                   un destino es 
                                                   en el mejor de los casos
                                                   un mero rumor

en el fondo 
se trata de la estructura
de localizar la línea narrativa que deje la línea de luz bajo la puerta
hablamos con un grado de libertad infinito	aquí
puedes rotarlo una mil veces	
sigue en el mismo sitio mismo
¿sabemos las reglas?	¿quién sube/baja? ¿quién sigue al volante?
podemos buscar (todas) las huellas en la alfombra
huellas que dejen dejemos		un pacto de vuelta		       maybe
bla bla bla 		bla bla bla
línea = línea rota
re-trazamos los pasos	 y nada familiar nada
¿qué travesaños vadeará		nuestra cesura? 

helicopter. beach. he was walking alone. sometimes we need just one reason to quit. 
an aim over which the skin can be spread. it was just a breeze. smell of newly purchased salt. 
as if uncovering waves. why create such a stir. walking. crime against public health. 
remote database access. they landed. they escorted him. from both sides. just in case. 
in view of the risk. in the line of duty. 


helicóptero. playa. caminaba solo. a veces basta con una razón para huir. 
un objetivo en el que extender la piel. solo era brisa. olor a sal recién comprada. como destapar olas. 
por qué tanto revuelo. caminar. delito contra la salud pública. acceso remoto a todos sus datos. 
aterrizaron. le acompañaron. a ambos lados. por si acaso. por si el peligro. en cumplimiento del deber.  

transfigured face
head and floor separated by a trickle of blood
the gaze walled by an animal silence 

do you believe in life or death?
in life, definitely

both the fall and the body embalmed by the blasting
until the parquet floor pattern is reached

what is it that remains after the last anchoring?

face down he expects something to move
the start of a sob, or a void, or a question
or a delay as abrupt as an ending


se desvive la cara 
un hilo de sangre separa cabeza y suelo
un silencio animal cubre de pared la mirada

¿crees en la vida o en la muerte?
en la vida, por supuesto

la detonación embalsama caída y cuerpo
hasta el patrón del parqué

¿qué permanece en el último anclaje?

bocabajo espera algún movimiento
un principio de llanto o de vacío o de pregunta
o una espera tan simple como un final 

Editor’s Note: The latter two poems were performed at the online venue Transforming with Poetry
8/1/21. by the author. See Facebook page.

Ángel Huerga (León, 1971) has collaborated in literary magazines such as Nayagua (Fundación Centro de Poesía José Hierro, nº 33), Solaria, Siete de Siete.net, and Las hojas del foro, as well as in the book of essays Poetas asturianos para el siglo XXI (Ed. Trea, 2009). Currently, he attends the Camaleones en la Azotea poetry workshop in Madrid, Spain, where he is based, and has contributed to the release of the a4rismos cardboard book edition (Fundación Sindical Ateneo 1º de Mayo y Taller de Poesía Camaleones en la Azotea, 2022).

He is a lyricist for Asturian-based band Fantástico Mundo de Mierda (FMM) (https://fantasticomundodemierda.bandcamp.com/), which has released the following albums: New Software (Lloria Discos, 2005), La Furia del Fin (Algamar Producciones, 2013), and La Fortaleza (self-released, 2018).

Additionally, he has contributed to translating into English some sections of the following works: El genio austrohúngaro. Historia social e intelectual (1848-1938), by William M. Johnston (KRK Ediciones, 2009), and “In bello fortis”: la vida del teniente general irlandés Sir William Parker Carrol (1776-1842), by A. Laspra and B. O’Connell (Fundación Gustavo Bueno, 2009).

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