The Ancient World – Mark Doty

Today the Masons are auctioning
their discarded pom: a trunk of turbans,
gemmed and ostrich-plumed, and operetta costumes
labeled inside the collar “Potente”
and “Vizier.” Here’s the chairs, blazoned
with the Mason’s sign, huddled
like convalescents, lean against one another

on the grass. In a casket are rhinestoned poles
the hierophants carried in parades;
here’s a splendid golden staff some ranking officer waved,
topped with a golden pyramid and a tiny,
inquisitive sphinx. No one’s worn this stuff 
for years, and it doesn’t seem worth buying;
where would we put it? Still,

I want that staff. I used to love
to go to the library- the smalltown brick refuge
to those with nothing to do, really,
‘Carnegie’ chiseled on the pediment
above columns that dwarfed an inconsequential street.
Embarrassed to carry the same book past
the water fountain’s plastic centaurs

up to the desk again, I’d take 
The Wonders of the World to the Reading Room
where Art and Industry met in the mural
on the dome. The room smelled like two decades
before I was born, when the name
carved over the door meant something.
I never read the second section,

“Wonders of the Modern World”;
I loved the promise of my father’s blueprints,
the unfilled turquoise schemes,
but in the real structures
you could hardly imagine a future.
I wanted the density of history,
which I confused with the smell of the book:

Babylon’s ziggurat tropical with ferns,
engraved water courses rippling;
the Colossus of Rhodes balanced
over the harbormouth on his immense ankles.
Athena filled one end of the Parthenon,
in an “artist’s reconstruction”,
like an adult in a dollhouse.

At Halicarnassus, Mausolus remembered himself
immensely, though in the book
there wasn’t even a sketch,
only a picture of huge fragments.
In the pyramid’s deep clockworks,
did the narrow tunnels mount toward
the eye of God? THat was the year

photos were beamed back from space;
falling asleep I used to repeat a new word
to myself, telemetry, liking the way
it seemed to allude to something storied.
The earth was whorled marble,
at that distance. Even the stuck-on porticoes
and collonades downtown were narrative,

somehow, but the buildings my father engineered
were without stories. All I wanted
was something larger than our ordinary sadness-
greater not in scale but in context,
memorable, true to a proportioned,
subtle form. Last year I knew a student,
a half mad boy who finally opened his arms

with a razor, not because he wanted to die
but because he wanted to design something grand
on his own body. Once he said, When a child
realizes his parents aren’t enough,
he turns to architecture.

I think I know what he meant.
Imagine the Mason’s parading,

one of them, in his splendid get-up,
striding forward with the golden staff,
above his head Cheops’ beautiful shape-
a form we cannot separate 
from the stories about the form,
even if we hardly know them,
even if it only signifies, it only shines.


Baby Shoes – Ernest Hemingway

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
-Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway bet that he could write a story in under 10 words, and this above story was the result. 

So all the lovely people who read this post, I challenge you to write a story in under 10 words. Put what ever you come up with in the comments and I’ll post my favorites to the blog!
Have fun!

The Study Prayer – Denise Figueroa

Now I lay me down to study,
I pray the Lord I don’t go nutty,
And if I fail to learn this junk,
I pray the Lord I do not flunk,
And if I die, don’t bury me at all,
Just lay my bones in the study hall,
And pile my books upon my chest,
And tell my proffs I did my best,
So now I lay me down to rest,
And pray I pass tomorrow’s test,
And if I die before I wake,
That’s one less test I’ll have to take.

The New Colossus – Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

THe wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A Father’s Daughter – Max Miller

He takes a step, heart stops he’s shot down,

Right atrium pierced, a dad falls to the ground.


Teddy bear, old hart crusted to touch,

dead plastic eyes who’ve seen far too much.

A rip in the lining just over the heart,

a smile on its lips but its just a facade.

In a box there it lays with toys that can sing,

three from the thumb, a cold tarnished ring.


A daughter comes running and digs out the box,

she screams and she shouts and she opens the lock.

A Barbie a Ken with perfect blonde hair,

but she doesn’t see them, her eyes on the bear.

She squeezes him cradles him throws him around,

A game! with no guns, where he can’t touch the ground.


She stitches him nicely, wipes dust off his eyes,

she desperately dreams that the toy comes alive.

Her classmates cry for her, ‘the teddy won’t wake’,

but what if her friends, they made a mistake?

The teddy his up, he’s free of his lock,

smiling and happy and out of his box.


If you like this poem, check out more of Max’s poetry here: