Stewart Moss

The Book of Forgotten Geniuses
September 22, 2020 Moss Stewart

The Book of Forgotten Geniuses
I can understand why the Egyptians
wanted to be entombed
among the artifacts
of their lived lives –
papyrus etched with a procession of signs
that would never stop intoning
in the silence,
a carved granite ball ready
to be hurled at enemies
in the next world,
and mummified cats hushed
of all but the memories
of their soft murmuring.
But not all were rich, nor am I
and desire only to be buried
with the 3 dollars I got
for shoveling snow
when I was 10 – thus initiating me
into the ancient procession
of capitalists – the obscure poems
I composed with the youthful ferocity
of Mozart, a few amulets of grace
I carried back from the deserts,
and my favorite tome,
The Book of Forgotten Geniuses,
which like the Chronicles,
traces our journey from birth
to the exile from which
we’ve never really escaped,
and I shall gift it to Einstein, who
has rested all these years
among his own relics –
the frayed bow of the violin he played
to scratch out the music of his longings,
and the deflated tire of the bicycle
he pedaled from the beginning
to the end
then back again,
and with his thumbs still dusty
from the chalk he used
to sketch his hieroglyphs about time
onto boards as black
as the endlessness of space,
he will turn the tattered pages,
slap his forehead in disbelief and mutter,
“How come I
never thought of that myself?”

As a former Executive Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Stewart Moss helped establish creative writing programs for adult immigrants and members of the military being treated for neurological and psychological trauma. He has taught literature and creative writing in both the USA and abroad; Scotland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Nepal are among the countries where he has lived and worked. Moss has essays included in Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan, ed. Dario DiBattista (Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, 2016) and Plume Poetry, and poetry in Plume, Goss 183 and Origins Literary Review. His chapbook of poems, For Those Whose Lives Have Seen Themselves, was published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press, and his collection Arrivals & Departures: Poems will be released (also by Finishing Line Press) in 2023. Moss has been awarded an Independent Artist Grant by the Maryland States Arts Council; he has also been featured in “The Poet and the Poem” podcasts at The Library of Congress. A native of Boston, MA, he resides in Annapolis, MD.