Harp & Altar
Roseanne Carrara
To a Translator of Horace

Andy Fitch
from Island

Eileen G'Sell

Amy King

Jesse Lichtenstein

Stephen Sturgeon
Three Elegies for Landis Everson

G.C. Waldrep

To a Translator of Horace
Roseanne Carrara

You spoke of the followers of a mathematician who drew

from his example the promise of a second life. Pythagoras

lived as Pythagoras. And, having chosen the weapon

of an ancestor from a pile, he lived again, or that earlier hero

whose weapon he had chosen lived a second life in him.

Now that it is sure the both of them are dead, your take

on the old question stings us iron and fresh: what good

does it do the hero to have stood for something once?

The sea eats the captain and his crew. The aged still tear

at the bright youths and those in their prime on their way

to the underworld, tumbling down as if they, too,

were young again. Nobody escapes the sport of the old gods

or the shame of the new Christ, cold in his chiefly literal state.

Stay with us. We will need you soon enough. Stay to confound


what might be termed the second life of Edward Teller,

our father of the h-bomb, what with the ethos he delivered once,

his theme, reprised by the stiffs come to trade upon his take

on the human condition: the heart’s essential weakness,

the self-serving nature of humankind, our vision, base,

not visionary, caught wittling down the truth. That Teller

was no Pythagoras, in truth, come tell us. Come sink these stiffs

already bidding in his name for a license to spread a sea of mirrors

into space so as to make the sunlight flicker and to cool

what they have frequently termed this sunken earth. They will ask

to dust the stratosphere, too, with haze enough to reproduce

what Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens threw upon the day-

light once. They will ask to engineer a thick albeit

temporary age of winter, to put an end to the warmth


we forced upon the atmosphere and in upon ourselves

in this (and it is almost fair) our bent for self-indulgence.

Set us right again. Ask this group the old question,

and in an even sharper strain of certitude, what good

does it do you now that you are dead (though they

remain, for all intents and purposes, among the living)

to have treated our predicament from the tips and not

the roots? Ask them, what good, not to confirm in us

our primal lethargy but to make it plain – the most of us

would choose, on behalf of our two hemispheres and their

surrounding gases, to go without our deeper wants

and most of our possessions, with little grief, and long

before we make our way to Proserpina, swung at and torn

by the aged and the youths enticed or bidden there.