"Capriccio of Roman Ruins" by Giovanni Paolo Pannini‘Departure’ and Other Poetry by James McKee The Society January 13, 2017 Beauty, Culture, Poetry, The Environment 4 Comments Departure Like escaping through a siege, growing older Hampers itself with hopes of return; So if, over your bare shoulder, Upwind palaces start to smolder, Let them burn. Woken by ax-hack and sword-clang, at once you knew Better than to arm for the defense Of gates your foes stream through. You’re free to act as the conquered do When a war ends. Whatever you cannot bear, you must jettison To gain the stealth of lacking a past. You’re not safe till you outrun Hearing the hoard of spoils you’ve won Unamassed. Shrieks. Towers crash down. Yet back-alleying At a pace fit for fifty, not twenty, You must curb the urge to cling A moment to some random one or thing, From the passing plenty. Beyond the walls, your descent shoreward lies Through olive groves long since laid waste. Dawn miscolors smoke-splashed skies, Leaving you no shield against hunting eyes But further haste. What exiles converge on this fringe of wrack-strewn sand? What refuge beckons from this blank sea? Comes there no one to command Our foretold voyage, to a land Called Italy? Urban Life I’ve got all the nature I need, here in the city. Blocks of green speckle its grid where parks and zoos Nestle like pets, cosseted and car-ad pretty, While vermin and weeds, too close to us for pity, Adapt to every toxin we dare to use. The one time I went, the Orchid Show was as hot And human-humid as the subway. I had to leave. In its crowd, each splayed plant dangled from a pot As if petaling just to please us, which it was not. Out where the traffic sang through the streets, I could breathe. Crews plant trees now with a bark said to repel Pollution, which I call progress since whatever Kills them is plainly killing us as well. Down my block, saplings stand yoked between parallel Uprights, the better for breaking them to our weather. I saw a hummingbird last week, which was weird: A hovering emerald, exotic even for Queens. Something like joy rayed through me, only to disappear Since wherever its wing-blur belonged, it wasn’t here. I try, but cannot not know what it meant. Means. A New Yorker by birth (and likely by death), James McKee enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting cultural onslaught of late-imperial Manhattan. After holding a number of ludicrously unsuitable jobs, he spent over a decade teaching at a small special-needs high school. His poetry appears in Ploughshares, Acumen, The Raintown Review, Saranac Review, The South Carolina Review, THINK, The Worcester Review, The Rotary Dial, and elsewhere. He currently works as a private tutor and spends his time, when not writing or reading, traveling less than he would like and brooding more than he can help. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 4 Responses 绿山从 From Green Mountain (Cong Lu Shan) January 13, 2017 James also writes classical poetry. A breath-taking sight. Reply James McKee January 24, 2017 Glad you like it—thank you! Reply James Sale January 17, 2017 Very skilful work – I like this a lot. Reply James McKee January 24, 2017 That’s very kind of you—thank you for saying so! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.