Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 9 April 2010




When the gods die

the myths

are lifted off our backs.

Peace be with them.

They were heavy.


Indian Head nickel (obverse): designed by James Earle Fraser, 1913: image by Einar Einarsson Kvaran, 2005
Buffalo Head nickel (reverse): designed by James Earle Fraser, 1913: image by Einar Einarsson Kvaran, 2005


aditya said...

Splendid !!

Peace be with them.

Wonderful from the start, till the end.

I have been grappling with major internet glitches meanwhile.

Feels good to have reached here and read this poem and very strangely to have landed straight onto this afterwards.

aditya said...

A measure of a text for the coincidence at your place.

gamefaced said...

simply perfect.

Robb said...

Tom, you have a way with the simple stuff that I admire. I felt the weight lift off my own back with the last line.

Robb said...

Wait, "simple" is not the right word. Nothing simple about it. I just meant the shorter poems. They always feel like skilled punches. You are a word pugilist.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, they were!

What a strong poem. So much meaning and sentiment in such concise lines. You are a true master of words, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Exquisite wording.

TC said...

Now that we no longer have the gods and the myths to blame for weighing us down, we have each other... to blame or console, as the case may be.

In this case, it is entirely a consolation to have such friends. Helps one to lighten up a bit.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Elmo St. Rose said...

I dreamed there was a cyst
above my eye
When I cut it off
it was an Indian head nickle
with skin over it

60,000,000 endless
food source......mostly slaughtered
for what?

TC said...


Many thanks.


Plain enough that in the case of the buffalo as in the case of the sea otter and so many other creatures that made the mistake of existing on this continent before white eyes got here, and possessing some real and/or perceived value, the only credible answer to the "For what" would be: for nothing.

(And by the by, about what those images and those words might be saying to each other in this particular conversation... I'm still straining my ears to make it out.)

Anonymous said...

actually, many were slaughtered for a reason; whether it be a good or bad one is another question: their hides, tough and durable, were made into the belts that transferred energy from water or steam sources to factory machines...the death of plains animals making the industrial age possible...

TC said...


Yes, I take into account the industrial age and its products when I say, not without some sadness, nothing much came of it all. The general destruction of what was here before, I mean, with various gods and myths as permission and empowerment. But perhaps what I really mean is, nothing much good. And perhaps that view is so coloured by personal and private considerations as to be worthless. (This is why I have attempted from the outset to keep my opinions out of these posts, since they are worth neither more nor less than anyone else's... that is to say, I'm afraid, nothing).

Now and then, though, opinions in a comment box do, it seems, have a relatively salutary use. That is, when they are, with or without meaning to be, humorous. This however is not to say that the decimation of an animal species is in any way a joke, or worth a joke... more like, a not very successful attempt to smile through the tears. (Problem with the lacrimal duct, again personal, this unfortunate strain of apparent affect one can never completely eradicate or efface!)

My rather forced attempt at demonstrating nostalgia for large ugly ancient junk, for instance (see comments on "Education", two posts above this one), has a private dark joke hidden away somewhere in it for me. If you could see the ruin amid which I live, you too would I hope have a bit of a laugh... at rather than with, of course.

TC said...

(Speaking of old coins and quiet laughter, by the by, I couldn't help enjoying the fresh view I gained recently of the head of Mercury on those old Liberty dimes -- a coin roughly concurrent in use with the Buffalo/Indian head nickel -- when reminded that the head is modeled on a side view portrait of Wallace Stevens's wife. I recalled hearing it said that poetry isn't worth a nickel, but a dime -- well, I can remember the day when that meant something.)

Anonymous said...

my comment wasn't so much in response to your poem as to the comments in the comments string. The poem is beautiful. Thanks.
And as far as your pairing it with these 5 cent images... I found that it illuminted one possible meaning of 'gods' in cultures...and their weights, both literal and numastic (sp?).

TC said...

Thanks Anon, and yes, that's exactly the meaning (relative weights and values) I think I overheard when eavesdropping on the conversation between the nickel faces and the text.

(I think this is just about my value level, nickel & dime without the dime... but then as a small child I always got a bigger kick out of Woolworth's or Kresge's than Marshall Field's. At the former venues the nickel in my pocket at least got me a leg up.)

Here's to numismatic exegesis on another cold wet and windy Sunday... Too bleak for words, think I'll go have a lie down. Cheaper than a phone call, anyway. (Though to be honest I have no idea what a phone call costs these days, I always just assume that since everybody is always making them, the price must be right.)