I live near Boston and teach philosophy at Boston University. Besides academic pieces, I write fiction (when I’m up to it) and poems (when I can’t help it). I use a fountain pen—my link to tradition—and write to music. I’ve published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals. A new story collection, Heiberg’s Twitch, is forthcoming.
It was in Mars’s month, time of
ultimate frosts, contorted mud,
and day broke brisk; a steel wind
brightened by frozen sunlight
whipped the bedecked catafalque
into a clipper all unfurled.
Schoolchildren marched up the stairs
to look, each with a flower made
of orange, green, or yellow yarn.
It seemed to them the set face still
concentrated on a final story
trapped beneath the map-like brow.
The children wore their leather shoes,
old scuffs freshly concealed by
shiny polish; their small cold feet
clattered on cold pine. They came,
both children and shoes, in pairs,
boy girl, girl boy, hand in hand.
The fat mayor spoke, then the thin priest.
Even ladies minked and muffed who
had slept with the author or claimed to
shivered in that storyless, weightless
atmosphere. A sister spoke of a
brother. A professor summed up.
Safely dead at last, safely dead,
the story of his story’s dénouement,
all complications unknotted, at rest
all energies, fate with character
equalized. He’s his last name now,
a body we can do with as we wish.
This poem first appeared in Piedmont Literary Review as “Death of the Author”
The House Inside The House
The scholar leans into his lamp,
lights up his pipe, digests the mood
of cozy thought. The night grows damp;
rain settles on his solitude.
A conversation outside time
as ears ignore the baffled noise:
the scholar tacit as a mime
attends the resurrected voice.
The quiet of soft rain, still night,
concentrates upon the page
the reader’s eye, the shaded light,
till mind is mindless of mind’s rage
and all the world could not arouse
him from the house inside the house.
It flashes like a helm hard by the dorms,
locus classicus of a thousand forms,
proof against student protest, unions, storms,
distinguished, as one gradually discerns,
from lesser piles with lesser concerns:
there no one teaches, and nobody learns.
©2015 Robert Wexelblatt