Pick-a-Poem: “My Herculaneum”


Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of “Pick-a-Poem.” For those who don’t know, we choose a new poem to feature each time Wednesday rolls around. Hopefully, on one of these Wednesdays, you find some new poetry to read and perhaps a new poet whose work you can follow. As always, this week’s poem comes from Poetry Daily, which is a great poetry site. This week we’re featuring My Herculaneum by Jennifer Franklin.

According to her bio page, Jennifer Franklin work has appeared in a chapbook called Persephone’s Ransom. She has also been published in journals such as Antioch Review, Pequod, New England Review, and The Nation. She is the co-editor of Slapering Hol Press, which is the small press imprint of The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center. She teaches poetry workshops at The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center.

My Herculaneum by Jennifer Franklin

When I arrived, I thought I knew how to live.
I saw my future as clearly as new frescoes
On stone. What I did not have, I made do without—

Or invented: the trompe l’oeil mosaic in the summer
Triclinium for a real garden. The songs of birds
From the nymphaeum’s painted trees. Long expert

At knowing the world through the words of others,
I thought there would be time to live. Before her
Diagnosis, my feeling of fortune, ostentatious

As patrician villas, tempted disaster. Like other
Citizens of Vesuvian towns, I feared disaster would find us
But could not bring myself to pack and leave.

Solace comes seldom—as rare as a preserved section
Of fresco, framed in rough wood by archaeologists
To safeguard it still. That’s how my insides look now—

Ruined expanse of smooth stone, graffitied with residue
Of memory, caught under glass, visible if the light is right
With no glare—fragmented, constant, red.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s poem! For more posts like this, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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