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“This speaker, seeking renewal, takes a journey from continent to island, train station to campsite. And yet it also feels as if he crosses over to some mythic, self-absorbed world where he seeks out violation, and the truth of his condition throbs: he is alone.”
Greg Wrenn

Island

I took the night train there,
never dreaming.
To cross the straits
my boxcar crept onto a barge—there was screeching,
several tremendous thuds,
then with a growl
we sailed.
I was already half-awake,
anxious for a volcano, neolithic shrines,
islands to explore
off the main island…
At my stop,
early morning’s tarnish
fell on a shuttered newspaper stand
and torn campaign posters.
A child playing near a livestock car
sang about a weapon
detonated in another nation,
another hemisphere.

From the station
and the song,
I walked up the mountain road
to a garden where grizzly men with camera phones
greeted me, sleep still
in the corners of their eyes,
bougainvillea around their tents.
I was to be eternalized
and therefore loved.
They waxed my nose
and powdered my nether regions.
After oatmeal and coffee,
I was Jupiter’s—
his bardash, his
Ganymede, ningle, ingle,
trug—bracing
against a Doric column.

I felt numb a night later as rosemary blew through the lava
      fields.

Copyright © 2015 by Greg Wrenn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Greg Wrenn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Greg Wrenn

Greg Wrenn is the author of Centaur (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). He teaches at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, California.

by this poet

poem

And the morning, too,
falters,
struggles to
assert itself,

burn through
the errant
fog, the pines,
scorch the

whole grove
of trees
and crooked
streetlamps. Your

body’s turning,
turning
beside me
in my bed’s—