Three by Heraclitus


Offend yourself with mirrored knowledge
(where’s that face you wore at college?)
and your sense of life’s no-stasis,
thinking of various times and places,
recalling the endless grandmother summers,
remembering bees and thunderboomers,
and quote, “A boy’s will is the wind’s will.”
All is flux, nothing stands still.


About to vacation some years ago,
it was yourself that you wanted to know,
so you left your wife behind and went
away to the mountains and set up a tent,
and re-read Walton*, and cast your fly
as you did as a boy, long and high;
but something went wrong—and you got a fever.
You can’t step twice in the selfsame river.


Discontent in retirement you stare at your land
(once wild but tamed by the work of your hand).
How long will it take to overgrow
when you are gone, you’d like to know.
You haven’t the strength to do things twice.
It’s all gone now, gone in a trice.
You’re an old dog now, a dog with the mange.
Nothing endures but change, change, change.


*The Compleat Angler, 1653, Izaak Walton



The Bosnian Cherry

. . . the explosion appears to have shocked the tree into blossom. —Reuters

Friends, look with faithless unbelieving eyes
upon this miracle the bomb has wrought,
as now, in shocked conversion, I tell you
of spring against the devastated skies
of winter war, the hopelessness war brought,
and how, enveloped in explosive blue
of acrid smoke, this tree could still devise
beyond predictability. It caught
the shell’s enormous heat, and grew
fluid with sap, miraculous with surprise
of spring, for all combatants to be taught
anew a faith unlearned by deathly cries,
a blossoming the human heart has sought
with every hopeful spring—a sweet Peace Prize.



E.M. Schorb’s work has appeared in Agenda (UK), The American Scholar, The Carolina Quarterly, TRINACRIA, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Measure, Stand (UK), The Massachusetts Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), The Yale Review, and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others. His collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press years ago, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.

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6 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    Wow, and wow. Two magnificent poems. Three by Heraclitus I found full of wistfulness and nostalgia, with pearls of wisdom at the end of each stanza, but ultimately melancholy. A slow roller-coaster ride full of variation it takes the reader to many reflective places.

    The Bosnian Cherry is a wonderful story / moment out of time. I made a cursory search on the internet, found nowt, and was wondering if it’s based on a true story. You did a great job creating something so positive and life-affirming out of such a tragic era.

    Keep this between us, but for a moment in stanza II of Three by Heraclitus, I thought it said ‘re-read ‘The Waltons’.’ A light moment, but I’m glad for the asterisk.

    Thanks for two fine reads, Mr Schorb.

  2. Sally Cook

    Dear Mr. Schorb —

    Your imagination is crystal clear; your manner deliberately takes us to where your conclusive comments lie waiting.

    You are the berry seed. the whip of the fishing line, the kernel in the nut, the meaning in the poem.
    Thank you!

  3. Michael Dashiell

    Nothing endures but change, change, change also events major or minor can likewise repeat since people, nature, and the cosmos incur and maintain qualities and habits for better or worse. Thanks for posting these thoughtful poems.

  4. David Bellemare Gosselin

    I really enjoyed the Heraclitus piece. You were able to take an old philosophical idea and elaborated it with some new fresh metaphors. I could even see a whole series a this kind of biographic-philosophic sketching. Could be interesting.

    “Three by Heraclitus” also reminds me of Schiller’s “The Proverbs of Confucius.”

  5. C.B. Anderson

    By Jesus, E.M.! I don’t think I’ve read anything by you since The Pennsylvania Review went under. If I may express an opinion, I think you are better now than you were then. And even then you always held our attention.


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