Alan Shapiro

At the Cemetery
November 10, 2014 Shapiro Alan

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.

Alan Shapiro is the author of 13 books of poetry, two memoirs, a novel, a book of critical essays and two translations. His awards include the Kingsley Tufts Award, 2 NEAs, a Guggenheim and a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. His newest book of poems, Life Pig, was published in 2016 along with a book of essays, That Self-Forgetful Perfectly Useless Concentration, both from University of Chicago Press. He is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina.