New Splendor to the Dead

We have lost our soul.  O, I don’t know,   
The city is still bright and beautiful.
Look: Even in defeat we shine, we show
Advancement.  Scan this fresh memorial
Verse…His name was Aster?  And the sculptor?
You knew him, Socrates.  That Socrates?
Was there named another?  Not another
Of that trade or of that name.  Poor old sleeves
He’s of the past, fashioned odd, out of style.
His tongue was sharp.  He cut with blunt chisels.
Bruised his stone, damaged his ephebes.  We failed. 
He failed, yet our city will excel.   
Our seed is sound.  Maybe.  What comes after?
Who will write the epitaph, like Aster’s?

Michael Curtis is a classical sculptor, painter, and architect who lives in Alexandria, Virginia. His verses have been published in Candelabrum, Blue Unicorn, The New Formalist, The Lyric, American Arts Quarterly, Amphora, Pivot, and many other journals. His translation of Afrikaans verse, “Land of Sunlight and Stars” will be published in 2012.