“June 13th, They Say” by Michael Ansara

Reading by the author

On this day,
Alexander died; he had slept
every night with a copy of the Iliad
and was laid to sweetness
in honey, covered with gold,
embodiment of all that is epic.

Improbably, Yeats
was born on this day
in 1865, and what if
Maud Gunn had said yes,
married him, pleasured his nights,
losing us his greatness in a lush happiness?

Today I felt the echo
of tiny worms turning,
pumped through aortic passage,
brilliant in that red-black darkness,
draining; sapping.

Sapping as in how
a Vermont farmer
carefully taps honeyed happiness
from the sugar maple, never
too much, just enough
to boil almost endlessly

until the sugar comes, crystallizing
sweetness on the tongue
of a boy-almost-man who has yet
to taste bitterness,
still dreams the possibility of epic.

Michael Ansara’s work has been published in Mid-American Review, Salamander, Muddy River Poetry Review, Web del Sol, Ibbetson Street, Passager, Solstice, Vox.com, Arrowsmith, and Cognoscenti. He spent many years as an organizer and activist, having served as a regional organizer for Students for a Democratic Society and an executive director of Massachusetts Fair Share. He is the cofounder of MassPoetry (masspoetry.org), serves on the board of Tupelo Press, and is a member of the executive committee of the New Movement to Redress Racial Segregation. He studied writing at Lucie Brock-Broido’s summer workshop, Joan Houlihan’s online workshop, The Workshop for Publishing Poets, and the GrubStreet Master Memoir Class. Michael lives in Carlisle, MA with his wife.

Image by Alan Coon

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