On Alma Tadema’s Coign of Vantage

Flora peeks over the marble parapet,
a dizzying perch above the azure Aegean.
The Roman fleet is returning. ‘Tis the season
to flirt, to catch a lover in her net.
Julia and Livia stand close, her bosom friends.
Tomorrow they’ll break their sisterly pact—
each flaunting girl-flesh in the public baths,
vying to beguile wealthy centurions.

Lying prone, his back turned, a lion of bronze,
neck adorned with forsythia. His tail flicks.
If asked his opinion, he’d lazily yawn,
contented to bask in the warm sunlight,
surveying human follies from this sheer height.

Bright sun, blue sea. The galvanic, dazzling ships!



The Education of Wisdom

Athena at sixteen: a taciturn girl,
inattentive in class, instead she’s obsessed
with War and Peace, concealed under her desk.
Hers is not Edith Hamilton’s myth. The whirl
of college, her doctorate; she flails about,
non-tenure-track, staring down career doom.
A Burmese cat and a booklined bedroom
soothe her. Drinking wine alone, her escape route,
she morphs into a drunk, “recovers,” but then?
AA’s fatuous platitudes cannot nourish
an idea-besotted mind. So, what to do?
Scribble sonnets! urges Euterpe, her friend.
Welcome to our bardic tribe. We cherish
Tolstoy’s wisdom: the rare, the beautiful, the true!



Mary Jane Myers resides in Springfield, Illinois.  She  is a retired JD/CPA tax specialist.    Her debut short story collection Curious Affairs was published by Paul Dry Books in 2018.

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5 Responses

  1. Paul Buchheit

    Mary Jane: Very descriptive, expressive, image-filled poems. You didn’t just “scribble a sonnet,” you wrote a beauty!

  2. Jeremiah Johnson

    Love the Tadema sonnet! The way you animate that lion – obviously one couldn’t talk about this picture without addressing it (like the elephant in the room) – but I don’t know if it would have entered my mind to give it a consciousness. Great way to contrast the licentious frivolity with a sterner perspective on the world.

    Do you know the site? “ekphrastic.net” They would eat this up!

  3. James A. Tweedie

    Delightful wit that tops Jane Austin even at her best. How you can be terse, florid and seriously amusing at the same time is an absolute wonder and all while chasing tenure, PhDs and moonbeams! Quite an accomplishment.

    Enjoy the wine, dear Athena—but don’t sell AA too short. You may yet have need of it!

    As for you, Mary Jane, I want more and more after that!

  4. C.B. Anderson

    These top-drawer poems fairly defy my ability to explain why I like them so much. They are vivid, yet subtle, almost the ideal of what it means to say something well — in vino veritas.


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