Jutting out of a mountain their stone faces
peer out with their notice crucified in stone.
Crafted to demand a nation’s reverence
visitors would mediate and atone.

But who can expect more than imperfection
now that their sullied reputations bark
from static news chatter and journals that sit
higher up like grand judges of derision?

The chattering ones say that they have failed us.
Their faults make them unavailable witness
to our parents hymns of perfection.
They are reduced to a carved collection.

I would ask that their ordered minds could bless
our endeavors below in the streets,
but do they die today like unworshipped gods?
Is Lincoln just Psyche, is Washington Zeus?

These stone faces hung in a stone wall
should remind but inflict anachronism
on the thoughtless who forget that these men
were more than archived letters from voices pale.

Today demographics seeks celebrity
that must be new, and no verity
can stand even if it was carved in stone.
Those who would reflect must stand alone.


Mr. Toivonen’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Midwest Poetry Review. His most recent book of poetry, Song After a Long Campaign, was published by Great Roots Press in 2015. He is an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and lives in Lansing, Michigan. 

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2 Responses

  1. Chris Tabaka

    Quite an original subject matter, and done very well indeed!

  2. Wilbur Dee Case

    Mr. Toivonen, I agree with the sentiment, and much of your poem’s presentation. The poem itself reminds me of Mount Rushmore: solid, original (echoing Mr. Tabaka), unfinished, and remarkable.


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