T. Alan Broughton: Three Poems




And there we were in Rome together, you

for the first time and I returning to the city

of my dreams. Our history was speeding

toward us as we flew to piazzas where glasses

were always filled with wine as we wound

through days and nights of inextricable tangos.

It didn’t matter that Italians had forgotten

how to be themselves, were crying their way

through evenings of teargas. We saw the water

lit and falling, or rearing Garibaldi’s wife,

and watched old monuments rise up to reach

the stars we knew were skewered there

for us, for us, and in this state of madness

we were right, and still are this night as snow

silts on the eaves of our house, mortgage paid,

no debts, years flying toward us now so fast

that all we can do to slow them is lie still

and at peace in the dark, letting the busy plow

thunder by as we hold each other palm to palm.




This fall brings tokens of your loss

in scuttle of fallen leaf or light as numb

as a hand beneath a sleeping head.

Sun rusts, and full moons dull to pewter.

Beloved cabernets, my zinfandels

are juice extracted from a still life

hanging too long in an empty house.


A book of Egyptian rites tells me

when Pharaoh died, a man chosen

as living twin for all his days

outside the rising pyramid ate

and drank, lay down in sleep

and woke, unlike the body closed

in its linen, disemboweled, in dark

surrounded by carven slaves, bakers

at ovens, fishermen lifting nets.


Some evenings in last rays of sun,

after my sacrament of sole and wine,

eyes closed I stand by the window,

tilt my face to pass light into your dark

where still you live as long

as we who knew you breathe,

blessing such days for you, for you.


                        For Hayden Carruth





Envy the couple in Villa Giulia

reclining, he stretched behind her,

she sheltered in the curve of his body,

both holding up their hands

to lift the kylix of wine.

Their smiles are immortal.


Or the couple on a stele also lying close,

and a servant is filling their cups

which they hold out to be filled

and toast our witness to their joy.

Even a gravestone can provide brute

matter for the alchemy of love.


But I can’t envy the dead. A glass

of the best Bordeaux or Barolo

helps to celebrate the slant of sunlight,

and I’d rather act out love.

If they are Etruscans then so are we

as we linger at dusk, drinking

our glasses dry, moving into

whatever night offers.



T. Alan Broughton  has published four novels, a collection of short stories, and seven books of poetry, including A World Remembered (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2010).  He also has been the recipient of various grants, awards, and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.