PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


Copyright © 2011 Pirene's Fountain.


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D. Eric Parkison studied English at St. John Fisher College, and then the University of Rochester. His Master's Essay was a small collection of poems written under the advisement of the University’s resident poet, James Longenbach. He has had one poem published in the online journal, Conte. He is concerned mainly with narrative poems of place. He currently teaches English at Monroe Community College.




The shutter opens with a sound like someone snapping his fingers.


Imagine the photographer facing the Coliseum:
It's too big, I don't
Know what to do with it:How to make
That appear in film, or draw

Lines that mean it.

Or take words
From a mind –  grasping,
Slipping in its own sadness,

Overwhelmed –  And push
Them through a throat:

To make those sounds into

words, again: It's just a building

Where some years ago men were made
To pick up swords, spears, or stones with which, they

Were told, they could earn their freedom. Live. Make
It the death of someone else –

As long as the other, likewise masked, likewise
On legs exhausted from steadying

A scored and aching body,

Found his way into the dirt,
Dripping, drop by hot drop the hope he had
From the wounds he hadn't,
Minutes before.


Arched upper levels curve off
Into the night, washed in creamy

Yellow light spilling
From street lamps. Footfalls resound: heels,

On the rounded,
Blackened stones. But

How can you

Create something that is bigger than the space it occupies? Something
That isn't
Just what it is,

But is what it means: How long it has lasted – In

The center of Rome, bricks the shade
Of dried blood – not rich, bright
Red, but, the muddy red of clay washed
In the rain of early summer – rain that is only a soft mist,

Hanging, urged on by a languid wind to
Fall through trees heavy with young leaves:

The same sound for hours, until the ground
Is slick, filled up, taking in what
Can be taken in, swelled
With all the weight of the rent sky –
How many times
It's been rebuilt – renamed, dedicated again,
Not hearing the voice
But the echo of the voice of Vespasian,

Then hearing the voice of Titus, the voice of
Domitian, ringing up

Into a crowd of fifty thousand, until the words aren't
Words, but sound, again and again:
Ringing off the bricks, drowned

In the shouts of the audience;

How many times
An earthquake, or stone-robbers have reshaped
The amphitheater, taking, taking –

The shutter opens with a sound like the snap of fingers,
 Hesitates, then shuts,
With the same sound, again.