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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