On First Looking into the Collected Poems of Philomene Long

After Keats’ On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

By Jim Smith

Much had I traveled – or so I thought – in the lands
made brilliant by the poet laureate of Venice
‘til this mammoth and beautiful book
revealed to me my ignorance.
But now, with book in hand,
I can journey to every realm
under heaven and beyond the stars.

I took this magical tome in hand
and opened it at random.
Three baby pigeons flew out
and began chirping
Philomene, Philomene.
The room came alive
with gulls, doves and
regal Ravens

Turning pages,
I was now on Paloma’s beach
The sun became bright
and chased the fog away.
I looked up at an old castle
and saw two poets
standing in the window
their gaze was upon the ocean
far away.

Storm clouds appeared
as suddenly as turning a page.
The poet appeared as a giant on the beach
gliding toward me out of the setting sun
Twenty feet tall at least.
Her voice roared like a winter storm,
A booming roll of thunder seemed to say,
who will walk upon our footsteps
that the light of Venice not be extinguished?

Then I was in her room
high up in the Ellison
She was alone,
but a presence lingered.
She spoke to John
across the chasm of death
as if it were of no consequence.
As she told us, her poems
have conquered death.
They are beyond his reach.

I closed the book
and looked around
at my familiar room.
I will return often
to this magic book,
I vowed.
I thought of Philomene
and the journeys
we would have together.

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