Author: Joe Eldridge

That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care.

-William Blake


………………………………………….is Kubla without Khan,

Tintern without Abbey, Ozy without mandias,

me without you—so to speak;


& I could truly embrace the Flower Children loving Blake

in this color print pairing—


[the hallucinogenic; the fire in The Doors; “Proud Mary’s gone wild.”]


—if only the latter hadn’t been “on loan to Liverpool,”

said the docent in clipped vowels (bored out of his wispy skull).


Yet here we are again—as if in an 18th century

clusterfuck of things to come.


I’m the top one (not by choice) of this coupling:

Newton washed in Michelangelo marble,

muscles inflated after free-weight reps,

cloak shoulder-slung like a wet towel in the locker room,

& bare-ass naked (always bare-ass naked it seems) on igneous rock,

compass & triangle in hand—that’s me—trying to science it out;


& you, the bottom, the Nebuchadnezzar of the two prints,

are more sinew of the sort

seen on grandfatherly types at clothing optional resorts;

palms & knees to the floor, crawling back as always,

grazing to engorgement;


& whenever I look at the one I attribute to you, I can’t help

but hear Sophie Tucker vamping a torch song,


& then she belts out, “Oh my man I love him so,”

& it’s like I’ve just sucked a jalapeño—all teary & snot-nosed;


yet there you are creeping back—a rutting boar—time blowing by

like calendar pages in a breeze.

The flowers at first I thought overabundant—

marigolds heartily edging the plat

like an infantry of Roman soldiers

hunkered down in turtle formation,

their bronze shields protecting

the center prize (that’s you, Teutonic

statue of Adonis) against an onslaught

of arrows; & at your base in bold letters

for all onlookers to see: Goethe,

Mastermind of the German People

& get this, of all possible dates—1913.


In Rome, I strolled by your grave, Goethe,

at the non-Catholic cemetery

down past the Coliseum

even further down past the Caracolla Baths

where I’m sure if you had looked anything

like this statue of Adonis,

you would most certainly have been popular.

Quite the glücksfall, it was, to find you

when I was only looking for Keats & Shelley.


Now, here at Diversey Harbor, you are praised

as a fleshy Aryan youth, all Byron spit curls,

totally naked except for a cloak

clinging to your buttocks

discretely covering your schwanz in the front,

which, by the way, is as sexless as G.I. Joe’s.

But it is your chest that truly impresses,

sculpted as a warrior’s breastplate,

& down on your meaty thigh

angled out to best display muscle-mass,

a German eagle perches like the family pet.


I look back inside your border

of flowers and finally see the silvery lamb’s ear,

the blue-flowered salvia

& feathery cockscomb flaming like fireworks;

but borders deceive as yours does—the outer edge

is really nothing more than yellow daisies—so many

common daisies like the ones sprouting wild

along highways, and all yours encroach

on the middle flowers

as if to boot the other blooms out.