Issue 16 · 2012




L’infamïa di Creti

a lyric vernacular


by Carey Scott Wilkerson



such was the passage down to that ravine.

And at the edge above the cracked abyss,

there lay outstretched the infamy of Crete,


                              from The Inferno, Canto XII, Allen Mandelbaum, trans.








Even silence conceals a doomed body

and everyone knows the calculation:

strung out along the freeway,

appositives in the trunk, querulous company,

leveraged on miracles and afraid to pull over

not for fear of accusing stares or merciless critique

but for the self-generative jokes we keep in

quantum states until we need them,

exit strategies in metropolitan deliquescence

vignettes shaped on styles probative small talk.








Your voice here, a droning whisper in drag,

and none but the most cynical will subtract

from tricks of light these speeches, multiply

nominative in the predicates of sleep

singly true in falsities of travel:

your personal effects marking a trail,

and who knows if you ever find your way back?

horses in bucolic posture; you climb the barbed wire

a covered bridge burned by accident, restored by chance

disclosures draped over you all the while you walk,

as perhaps mythic postulations are somehow

better viewed under the sodium lights of

urban perambulations








I was thinking this morning

about the list of things I need

and the list of things I reason

would be among the things I don’t

Some things were on the first list

and not on the second while

others were on the second but not the first

And then I started thinking

about what kind of thing would be

on both lists, that is to say:

both things I need

and things I don’t.

It seemed to me that this

was somehow more than a

wandering idyll or

an idle wonder

or a trick or a game or a vision








I have seen a shattered foot

from the Colossus at Rhodes

and I have smelled perfumes of

of cedars Africana in the North.

And that is a dazzlement

I am scarecly poet enough to write

whether I need to or not,

dreaming of the Fontano Minotauro

water-falling fountain in Taormina, Sicily

or perhaps the appeareance

of the Minotaur in Canto XII

of the Inferno, languid or dying

at the edge of cracked chasm

splayed there for inspection

in the bumbling gloss.








Creature/Creteure                     knowledge in its/their discontents/(dys)contents/Dis

                                 On what scale

Of intimacy does

does the monster arrive in                                           (simple undifferentiated brutality,

seminar vestments,

                                which list is invoked to take a roll?


propagators of violence

blasphemers                                                         something disconcertingly pre-Hellenic)


those with bad credit history

Ovid’s two-formed spectacle

Plutarch’s wretched imposture of incurious villainy

Hesiod’s stranger textures, his Titans with their primordial preoccupations

Freudian family values

Lacanian abyss








And if the fountain is fluid with stories

washing over stone as through

capillary parodies of blood in your hand

in your head, in the hard fictions of straight lines

etched in unread books, sketches lost among

derelict marginalia of your provable transgressions,

here then is your sculptress, lithe and learned,

it seems, in this light of close study, parlous

perforated in a graphicality of cataclysm

held indeterminately, or else terminally,

on the axis of fluxions in history

inflections across terza rima

schema for un-named investigations

pushed through

the troubled dusts

of secret work.










Carey Scott Wilkerson is online at His new book of poems is Ars Minotaurica (New Plains Press, 2012).