A.E. Stallings


Herrick, Light, Us

Lane told me, Tony Harrington, she told me you were dead.
She’d driven me to visit you, beside your hospice bed.
I smiled as I remembered how often you and Gene
Debated books and poetry and all things in between.
You’ve dragged on your last smoke, your wisecracks have waxed sterner;
I hope you’re back to badinage with Hendricks, Stone, and Turner.
We’ll miss you here, where nightingales are scarce. And what is worse is
Death takes us all, the bastard. Cheat him, Tony, with your verses.

Author’s note:
This poem nods to several Callanwolde poets (named after the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, where a series of poetry events took place), a group of poets active in Atlanta through the late 20th century and the beginning of the 21st—including me, Lane Young, Tony (Anthony) Harrington, Eugene Ellis, Ron Hendricks, the physician poet John Stone, and Turner Cassity. It also nods to William Johnson Cory, to Callimachus, and Heraclitus of Halicarnassus, and, for the heck of it, one of Tony’s favorite poets, Robert Herrick.

A.E. Stallings‘s most recent book of poems is a selected, This Afterlife (FSG), and her most recent translation is the (illustrated!) pseudo-Homeric The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice (Paul Dry Books). She recently began a stint as the Oxford Professor of Poetry.