Jazz, and An Aside from Critias

MICHAEL YOST is a poet and essayist living in rural New Hampshire with his wife and children. His essays and poems have been published in places like Modern Age, First Things, The University Bookman, Dappled Things, The Brazen Head, and others. He substacks at The Weight of Form.


Smooth and liberal,

It mounts and valleys down, percussive,

Tempoed to itself, accustomed nowhere.

In pulsing figural

It floats; a summer gown, successive

Patterns born and dying in the show-wear

Donned by limbs as loose

As birdsong larking through the growling

Traffic down by ninety-five; the silence

Short, the sound profuse

As flesh in Rubens, pain in howling,

Or leisure in a world convulsed by violence.

An Aside From Critias

You see how Socrates, in fact, is dead.

All talk of immortality aside,

There is no touch of it in that bald head.

And neither does his daimon still abide.

And I see also how the just are paid –

The bastard filches birthright from the heir,

Good kings go mad and die betrayed,

As doves go gracing, landless, through the air.

I see the grass push up between the garden stones,

As mobs push through the guard at courts of law,

Or as the maggot pushes twixt the bones

Of some philosopher, the rib and jaw.

Then come on wildness; blast both weak and strong

Since nothing is forever, or for long.