11-4 poem

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.



A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

11.4 (Fall 2011)




courtesy of artrenewal.org


Two Poems by Michael H. Lythgoe


Mike Lythgoe teaches a course on The Literature of Espionage, and coordinates a course on local artists and poetry for The Academy For Lifelong Learning at USC in Aiken, SC. His website is BrassBard.com. Mike’s poems and photos are forthcoming in The Petigru Review. He will read at the SW Christianity and Literature Conference in Abilene in the fall.


   Meditation in a Recession


Passover means blood on the door.

Some sons will be spared, others die.

Last night in the garden betrayal bloomed.

The treasurer of the tribe lied,

embezzling more than thirty

pounds of flesh. Friends fall asleep; thorns

crown a teacher sweating blood. Come

the thugs as forecast for Good Friday.


Lightning by three, then hail fists drum.

Kneel. Kiss the Cross. Taste vinegar.

Denial sounds like a rooster.

Two revolutionaries broken. Soldier spears

Messiah. An investor bought the tomb.

Debtors lay claim to the remains.

Another sad Saturday, wounds

to wash, a body to wrap, a cave to seal.


Spring surprises Lazarus—

who rises like a crocus, fertile.

Birds nest in a wreath, knock on the door.

Hyacinths spring along a white wall. More

and more divinity appears to be mortal.  


    Of Generals & Catacombs


The general honored the dead in the ceremony,

his last, at Bagram Air base, Afghanistan.

A steel girder, tumbled from 9/11 towers—

a piece of sculpture—is a present from Brooklyn:


burned art bent; hard to face the missing piece.

At Fort McNair in Washington, DC,

the general’s quarters face the parade ground

where assassins—who plotted to kill Lincoln—were executed.


The rear view sights the Potomac—

a good spot to fish for bass, or daydream.

The general escapes with his family

out of the Capital, to the Shenandoah Valley;

back to boots, buckles, bullets, battlegrounds.


He is a contemplative. Even “snake-eaters”

feel the ground call; holes under granite.

Do no take them for granted.

They eat dirt for us. The rest is taps.


Sometimes they slur their emperor.

Warriors wander off their reservations;

when their clan dies of thirst, they surrender.

Some feel stars & stripes forever.


The divine seems touched by lightning.

What is the meaning of an angel fish?

Once, in my face mask, I faced one.

I believe they swim out of the catacombs,


off walls of bones as migratory birds cross battlefields,

above a general who reads historic markers, muses.

A priest wishes us peace for our household.

A sanctuary is elusive, like lights glowing underwater

Atlantis-like, after Katrina, or mysterious fish signs.