Photo of the Day Poems – Post #10

Echoing my earlier post, “Perspective” (3/22/20), these three poems from my collection of last year’s The Guardian Photo Poems presents compositions that explore the idea of perspective inspired by a parachutist over Turkey, decaying monuments in Virginia, and a pre-dawn sky over Dunstanburgh Castle, UK. (All poems by Vincent H. Anastasi)

Falling Over Mersin

It’s hard to enjoy the view
when you’re plummeting to earth
like Icarus at 9.8 meters per second squared,
the air too thin to offer any resistance
to slow my flailing frame
wanting all form and grace
drawn relentlessly by gravity’s pull.

One doesn’t stop to think,
“My! What a sublime skyline!
See how blue the Mediterranean grows!”
One fails to appreciate
the gateway to Tarsus
where Saint Paul’s well commemorates his birthplace
and Cleopatra’s Gate stands resolutely still.

One only thinks,
“Will any mark this meteor-man,
incandescent in rapid descent?
What will I feel
when I finally smite the ground?
Will there be a split-second-pain
before my rip entry into eternity?”

Croaker, Virginia, USA (4/10/20)
Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Presidents’ Heads

Presidents Park’s gone bust:
The twenty-foot sculptures
discolored and leprous —
Silent pillars,
Ancient ruins.

Truman peers over Reagan’s right shoulder,
men who ended wars and tore down walls.
Eisenhower, ever a soldier in file,
lines up behind Hoover,
weathering this depression,
Carter, standing in Nobel peace,
and decomposing Wilson,
a league of nations couldn’t preserve.

Among this great society of busts,
LBJ stands ever in the shadow
of Theodore Rex:
Rough Rider,
Trust Buster,
looking no worse for wear.

Forty-three crumbling heads
abandoned beneath a somber sky,
grim reflections in a muddy puddle
waiting to be seen,
wanting to be heard
in Croaker, Virginia.

Dunstanburgh Castle, UK (4/11/2019)
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Pre-Dawn Whisper

In sights such as this
I can see why King David
questioned our worth
when stars saturate sky
and eternal breath fogs
heaven’s glass in the wee hours
of a Thursday morning over Northumberland.

Without perspective
these perpetually exploding spheres of gas
held together by their own gravity —
white dwarf, pulsar, Wolf-Rayet, supergiant —
appear small,
dwarfed by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle,
symbol of defiant opposition,
survivor of the Wars of the Roses
now fallen into decay.

But all this has been said before
and my voice, but a pre-dawn whisper.

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