Jack D. Harvey

Jack D. Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, Mediterranean Poetry, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

Mark the Dwarf

Mark the Dwarf
by Jack D. Harvey (Author), Shannon Harvey (Illustrator)
Format: Kindle Edition
Print Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Publish Green; 1 edition (18 Dec. 2015)


Hannibal at Zama;
among the cannibals
an eye as fierce as any.
A quick revenge
proved slow as sand
in an hourglass;
the swamps, the lake,
like dreams
on the long marches
back and forth
across the Roman boot.
Elephants wonder
how many there were to
defeat, again and again;
so many legions,
beast against beast.
Then a pause.
Loss follows loss,
an old general
makes his last stand;
unfortunate palaver
at the end;
then slaughter
complete as a harvest.
Down the drain
goes Carthage,
gone for good,
and history can’t tell
us what was
left among the ruins,
and what was not left.
We see Cato’s fields of salt,
the old Greek
tells us a thing or two,
sharpening his point,
and then
blue skies
under which
paints with red paint.

The bodies glisten
at Zama
the bodies glisten;
and then zebras
and then the brimming sand.


We have here to speak
of stone benches,
hard and uncomfortable,
mostly antiquarian,
of peculiar significance
in the lives of those citizens
of the world, those old Greeks
and the others,
scholars and vagrants,
walking and sitting, sitting and walking,
thoughtful heads, sensitive souls,
sore behinds;
philosophers all, of one
sort or another,
but a hard bench
is a hard bench.

The way in which they
won comfort from the hard stone
was by fortitude or willpower
or plain indifference,
standing the pain on its head,
or, for the less limber of mind
or more resourceful,
by collecting rags in the streets
or boughs fallen
from trees along the concourse.

Symbolizing the common rights
of noble-minded men they sit.
Their tired feet become
precious necessary relics,
delicate and easily broken.

Their thoughts collapse
on their own lives,
troubled by too much
time spent on the road;
the bleak consequences of
loneliness and deprivation
make them old
before they know it,
cold to the world
and even wisdom and
history have no comfort,
no good end.

Like the hero of the Odyssey
they return eventually,
but they return unrecognized
and leave again incognito.

Sitting alone, in the days,
in the nights, wayward
in their thoughts,
the history of Rome, eternal city,
compassed in blocks of
stone on the hills;
the tragic emperor’s reign
no more than the life
of a precocious child.

Michael the Paphlagonian

Michael’s fingers
were big as his arms,
riding in from
a good war;
sick as a dog,
he won acclaim.

A long disease does more
to our souls
than our bodies;
the fretful blood
and flesh accept.

God called,
Michael answered
at the last;
the crown of gold
exchanged for
the white robes
of the anointed,
the helmet of salvation.

At the sacred font,
omphalos of
God’s mother,
Michael stands;
dipped in the
watery hole
Michael emerges,
waiting on death
like a good servant.
The mystic waters
close again,
as Christ’s belly.

Take, O take
these bleeding guts
away, whispers Michael
to his servants.
Tottering off,
he remembers Zoe
betrayed in her palace,
a moment’s pleasure repaid.

He has gone to
his reward,
they say,
looking skyward.
In a golden halo
he smiles from
his beautiful picture;
art for life.

Psellus told too much
and not enough about
those troubled times;

again and again
never to touch
the groping fingers
find the reins.

On the March

It’s a long high fly,
going, going,
the slow army,
elephants and all,
from the Alps descending,
going deep towards the belly button,
the breadbasket of Rome.

Along the Trebia flats,
the shores of the Trasimene,
Roman soldiers fell in droves,
legion by legion,
covering the ground
like the glittering leaves of autumn
or driven to drowning in the lake;
the silent uncaring water
swallowed them whole.

Fabius Cunctator, old and wily,
waiting in the wings,
patient for the reckoning;
but not his turn,
not his time;

Hannibal marches on.

You’re Only Dead Once

(Odyssey Book XI- Nekuia)

Farming not at all
we like,
the pasture boggy and
the day dirt-long with toil.

In the kingdom of the dead
Achilles’ flap
about working a live sharecropper
than ruling the death-house-
he must have been kidding.

He was.

Toil is lady luck’s backside,
unfurnished and smelly;
give me ghosts and
the rest of eternity.

For other contributions by Jack D. Harvey, please follow the links below:

Poetry in this post: © Jack D. Harvey
Published with the permission of Jack D. Harvey