Poetry: Petrarch translated by Micah Towery

Canzoniere 6

In dreams, my Desire chomps wildly

at its bit, galloping in triplet beats, but

she flees, unburdened by her body, while my

sleep-bound legs are mute and paralyzed.

Even here, I know my Desire is fractious

and surreal, unhinged. Even in my dreams I try to

suppress it, immolate it at the origin, but Love keeps

slipping it the key at night.

So while Dr. Jekyll is anxious, asleep,

Mr. Hyde carries away the good

doctor on his back toward disintegration.

And in the morning quiet, I wake poetic,

underneath a pair of lightning-fractured oaks, fists

clenched around handfuls of hard fruit.

Canzoniere 7

Great heart: they will

not replace the burnt out bulb

in their spirits or hear the laurel murmuring

outside. What difference to fashion’s tin

ear? One clang is like the others.

Each lover they prefer to be blessedly

benign (in their unique way).

“Kudos!” Then the next thing.

Most have forgotten you already, so

it’s even more important now

that you do not fall back

when they fail to note the quiet

rising of your heart like light.

Psalm 2

                        That which acts on all but meddles in none — is heaven.
                                                ~Chuang Tzu

Kings want the monopoly

on violence. The people want

what they want. The kings want

to give it to them: “Vox populi vox dei!” So

the starry silence rustles Fortune’s wings,

the mountains of ore, the rivers

that shaped them—silent speech

to kings, to time itself: I begot he who

begot you; fight that and fight your own life.

My anger and wrath

are only what’s left after

refusing this: what is, is right.

Psalm 1

Blest is the man who doesn’t

walk with the fast talkers or stand

with shit stirrers,

who doesn’t sit listless

with the cynics—

he’s happy to be

and knows it.

And what he knows

he loves,

and so he knows it.

And is satisfied.

But the damned are

always hungry. They always

change their mind.

They’re always leaving before

their footprints disappear.

toweryMicah Towery lives in South Bend, Indiana, where he teaches and writes. His current writing projects involve poetry translations and a novel. Some of his previous translation work appeared in his poetry collection Whale of Desire.