two poems


Zoning Changes

From the Pollock streets to the Mondrian spaces,

I think I’m done with city blocks and interchanges,

I want Rothko style developments,

places where one property, one use, and all history

blend together under an ambiguous horizon.

A Pattern of Others

So your city wants to become the next Athens, well, why not?

Athens was the marble crucible of so much,

gifting the world more than just some amputated sculptures,

it gave us new ways of thinking, speaking, and looking,

perhaps the rebirth of the species too, with Pericles and Socrates,

and you want your hamlet to become a polis

where you can relive that glory and live knowing a legacy

is being generated every single day in your backyard

As it is, your local habitat is ignored, passed over

for the attention of others, hardly mentioned, and only noticed

by regional directors of companies examining

sales and trying to maximize revenues for a franchise or two,

whatever local treasures the city calls its own stink

to you of fish, oil, or nitrates, one day you hope to transform

them into something more pleasant, fitting for Arcadia

though Athens was never there, in myth or reality

Athens probably had figures in the agora like you long ago,

fretting about Syracuse or Miletus, and worrying

how their small city-state would ever get the world’s attention,

what did they do? Well, they went to war

with a major empire that reached from the Indus to the Aegean,

achieving victory on land, and sinking its fleets as well,

but not before giving up Athens to their invasion,

which saw every home and business consigned to the flames,

Do you have that? A major world empire at hand to fight?

Whose forces can come and ruin your life’s work,

as long as they do not spread salt over the still smoking ashes?

Afterwards, you will rebuild, with a chance to go further

by creating a new empire to match the one you outwitted,

a way to feel safe, then grow fat on the proceeds,

until you became hated by all those you claim to be protecting,

and they rise up, with no use for all of your dramas

All this may be too far in the future for you to worry about,

you want to boost your hometown, not go to war,

but you will eventually justify the new fleets as they all did,

claiming a need to defend the comedy and philosophy,

the locally-sourced rhetoric and metaphysics

you dream about your metropolis producing for humanity,

no matter the fate of those cities, yours must burn first,

if you want to live in Athens, that Athens, go find your Xerxes


Ben Nardolilli is currently an MFA candidate at Long Island University. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Slab, and The Minetta Review.