Steven Reese

In Translation

Instead of wings
say you bring
only your bull head
to the labyrinth,

beating it against
the wall’s inscriptions.

Then someone hands
you the thread,  
the clue to teasing
their meanings out.

How glaring those
passages now,
how they sting

the mind’s eye like
sun off a sea
you’ve never seen

on the wall’s other

The Minotaur, Stuck in His Head Again

and finding no thread yet
to follow back into the world,

    as he’s learned to do, this
being a bull’s head, after all,
insistent, not to be dodged or
hurried.  He waits

for the voices crowding that space
with their doubts, their denigrations,
crying him down, calling
him out, waits

for them to build and echo,
to talk over and turn into each other
until they become a single noise,
one mass, a drone, a hum,
and at last a tone.

And that tone is his thread.
It summons his senses to choir,
cues his body to stir, to stride,
and he becomes a time kept,
a rhythm again,

tuned to the light’s changes,
the season’s, balanced but spinning
through space on the ground
he’s crossing, the voices all coming

from outside, surrounding him,
very few human, but all
like his now, singing.

Steven Reese is the author of three collections of poems: Enough Light to Steer By (Cleveland State), American Dervish (Salmon), and Excentrica: Notes on the Text (BlazeVOX), as well as two volumes of translation, Synergos (Etruscan; poems of Roberto Manzano) and Womanlands (Verbum, Spain; poems of Diana María Ivizate González). His work has appeared in The Journal, West Branch, Poetry Northwest, Atlanta Review, and a host of other magazines. He teaches in the English Department at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and in the Northeast Ohio MFA program in creative writing. He lives in Youngstown.



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