At the Cemetery

Cloud cover from horizon to horizon

like an inverted topographical

map identical in scale

to what it models—


gray mountain ranges darkening

as they rise downward,

the crease of valleys

thinning upward


into paler grays, thinning and thickening

along lines that shift and merge

like a map in motion,

a phantasmal


time lapse of tectonic plates, of every

upsurge and subduction

going nowhere on

and on on


courses intricately fated, haphazardly

minute and massive while

below them sprays of

fresh-cut flowers


invisibly decay and leave

brief trails of sweetness

all along each newly

chiseled name.




Born and raised in Boston Massachusetts, Alan Shapiro is the author of 12 books of poetry (including Night of the Republic, a finalist for both the National Book Award and The Griffin Prize), two memoirs (The Last Happy Occasion, which was a finalist for the National Book Circle Critics Award in autobiography, and Vigil), a novel (Broadway Baby), a book of critical essays (In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination) and two translations (The Oresteia by Aeschylus and The Trojan Women by Euripides, both published by Oxford University Press). Shapiro has won numerous awards, including The Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize, The O.B. Hardison Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library, The William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, an award in literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2 NEAs, a Guggenheim and a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His new book of poems, Reel to Reel, was published in April 2014, from University of Chicago Press. Shapiro has taught at Stanford University, Northwestern University, Warren Wilson College (in its low residency MFA program for writers), and since 1995 has been on the faculty at the University of North Carolina where he is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing.



Issue #41 November 2014
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