William Trowbridge

On Brueghel’s the Tower of Bable
January 25, 2023 Trowbridge William



Anybody calling this scheme stupid
was no doubt dealt with, and nobody
here looks like they’re talking union.


The builders can still understand each other,
and the work, with a pot bellied cannon
pointed oddly skyward, has reached


the clouds already. But they’re all too deep
in the project to notice the foundation’s
nowhere near level. It’s tilted enough


for the tower to pole-vault before even
Heaven’s underside’s in sight. Some
arches at the base are already giving way.


Yahweh wouldn’t need to lift a hangnail
for this affront to fail, but He must think
the babbling part will make a better story.


Down in the far lefthand corner,
some peasants grovel before Nimrod
and his toadies as he spreads his cloak


to show off a shapely calf. Someone,
boss courtier perhaps, could be offering
the king advice on celestial real estate.


Off in the upper left, a small flock of birds,
probably annoyed by the god-awful racket,
flies off high and away.

William Trowbridge’s ninth poetry collection, Call Me Fool, was published by Red Hen Press in the fall of 2022.  He is a mentor in the University of Nebraska Omaha Low-residency MFA in Writing Program and was Poet Laureate of Missouri from 2012 to 2016. For more information, see his web site williamtrowbridge.net.