Dan Campion


The Ars Longa Vita Brevis Fest

They’re here, the Mozarts, Chattertons,
The Shelleys, Keatses, Byrons,
The Jimis, Joplins, Morrisons,
In pastoral environs,

To celebrate how much they did,
Allowed so little time:
Kick out the jams and smoke a lid
In Art’s eternal prime.

Titus Hydroponicus

If only those heroic brats
Ty sacrificed to Rome
Had been green sprouts in water vats
Beneath a sunlit dome,

The Caesars would have thanked him for
Fresh salads every day,
And Shakespeare’s fans be spared, in gore,
One bloody awful play.


The climbers who succeed in summiting
Mt. Everest stand queuing up, these days,
Like crowds stuck in a breadline. Not so Tenzing
And Sir Edmund; it would seem the craze
At present bears a scant relation to
Their feat, if any. Doubtless, at the peak
The snow and rock are trampled, and the view
Obstructed by the selfies climbers seek.
Analogies need no hard climb to find:
“Excelsior”s get one “Eureka” each
And epigones and accolytes then wind
Around the height they’re not the first to reach.
Priority is everything. Next climb
May echo steps, but never be their rhyme.

Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism (Bucknell University Press) and coeditor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song (Holy Cow! Press) and a contributor of poetry to Light, Poetry, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.