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 divides his time between his home near Albany, New York and his plantation in South Carolina. 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)

Orestes and Perseus

(in the Louvre 2001)

In the window of wit and myth,
what contradictions of
heat and light;
limned over and over
on bell-kraters, wine jugs, hydria,
Orestes moves in for the kill;
detailed on the crockery
the forever silent onlookers
seem to know but
don’t care,
detached and forbearing;
witnesses of
static enlightenment
caught on lawns
of melancholy fright.

Ordained by Apollo,
in the heat of horror
he did what he was told;
the Furies, furious
unrelenting, horrible,
speed Orestes
into the limelight;
mad as a March hare,
he dreams in terror
running and staring;
straight out of midnight
Gorgo returns
with her strange frightful hair.

On the unbalanced pediments
the gods revert to beasts
or worse
for the dock holds Orestes,
fated vengeful youth,
whose enterprise ended
in murder most splendid,
like a butterfly unfolded,
in murder at the root.

His mother’s bountiful breasts,
dominions untold,
bootless shadows of doom,
loom from the past;
awe-struck, open-mouthed,
he stands
as Athena speaks.

By that utterance saved,
redeemer, murderer,
phantom of blood,
Orestes’ station
in the long cool Louvre halls
becomes offensive as fate,
as the sentence denied.

Forgetful, the Furies turn
from dread Orestes’ bane
to wanton reproaches and
half-familial caresses.
Much taken
with Medusa’s headstrong ways,
with justice not paid out,
the Furies look
beyond despair
to a better day,
a newer rite
to suit the hour,
a chance at power
in the marketplace;
beyond recall,
a hint of destiny
for a younger race.

Moving down the
long cool Louvre halls,
imperial Rome, in its
decadent light of
semi-heroic gesture,
to preserve the simple
faraway grace of Perseus
exhibited the graceless power
of stone;
here it is.

Perseus stands,
isolated in air;
his foot-wings
are spread but
he does not fly
and Orestes does not
flee this monolith.


(Pindar’s fourth Pythian)

Triton, snowy-haired,
in splendid seeming
graces Euphemus
with a hunk of earth.
At sea
carelessly lost,
a glebe
brought up on the
shores of Thera;
sacred wet black meat,
like a toy limousine,
rolls up
at the crossroads,
confounding Hermes’
stylish stone
to its mossy base.

Material stuff, divine power
ripe for the plucking;
the leavings of a continent
content an island;
its petty king
legend enough
to rule the hours.

The fields full of corn;
herm with a phallus
a stone
surrounded by
crows eating,
eating the dead black meat;
their resounding beaks clatter
on more than hard seeds.
Harvest after harvest
the passing seasons
bury a clod, light as Lazarus,
awaiting intervention.

In the harsh sky
wheeling wings
blacken the day;
Euphemus arriving
in some small state,
in slow display
proceeds up-river;
on stony bank
hesitates in dismay,
unused to destiny
footloose and
knocking at the gate;
taken to task
by the powers that be,
asked over and over
by the prophets of old
the same old questions,
like a splendid top,
spinning and rolling,
dumb as an ox,
has no answers.

Dismissed out of hand,
Euphemus departed,
Libya’s hope and bane.

Come, come, unruly
citizens, haphazard
peasantry gathered
for no good reason,
dead men, untrue
to the proverb,
tell all tales,
speak beyond oratory;
like the mask of Agamemnon
here is one who,
true to form,
sounds beyond
prognosticating Sibyls,
fretting the bars
of sense; here is one
with a clinging, ringing
hope that belies
the silence of death,
that sends us on
with a kind of music;
his cadaver leans out
from the kingdom without people,
his words, his hands
unwrap the cerement;
yonder the grave,
the beehive tomb,
the cold stream of Lethe,
but not for him;
his strong medicine
goes by another name,
heating the wandering crowds
like the thin flame
under hot air balloons.

Seed after seed,
lifeless lump after lump,
his kindling clod
makes all things wake;
not too late
came love and holy power;
like brazen ploughs
from the island earth
plowed up,
raised up,
dragon’s teeth.


There is that in God
which is not gaud
feeding the chickens
Honorius muttered in Latin,
not brooking a report
that Rome
how you say?
had been
like a chicken
its neck wrung.

Jesus, the beautiful faces,
the villas where Sallust
the beautiful noble stones
the shithouses, aqueducts, roads
but she fed the world
a long time
a line of law
and reason

Lars Porsenna
and the bloody emperors
hairy Vandals
Alaric alert
All honor
her hills, her people,
her purple
covered the steppes,
the western isles.

In the ruins of Rome,
in Illyria, in Britain,
bitter winter brings down
heaven’s wrath;
hailstones spatter
like pennies,
clattering on bronze
and marble alike.

We will not see Hadrian
again rebuilding the walls.

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