Two poems by Stephen Krewson, first place winner,
The College Alumni Society Prizes, 2009


My Mind Wanders while Watching a Free Performance
of the Metropolitan Opera in Prospect Park

This is becoming a bit much, I think
as the tenor and soprano return to the stage
for an eighth encore. I cross

my legs into the style called Indian and twist
another blade of grass around my finger.
Melodrama swoops out over the crowd

as if Angela and Roberto were Blue Angels
soaring above an air show, unwilling or perhaps unable

to land. I listen closely to the way Margaret
and Beulah are praising the singers—
since the best art of all is to inspire praise.

I remember this as being the reason I’ve dabbled
in poetry—a sort of blog among the arts—
which can be written anywhere and
requires no floodlights.

Bats fly in the dusk above our heads: silent,
ultrasonic. They are speaking a language
more piercing, more functional than Italian
which was child’s play for Mozart
and made Verdi the man,

but all sounds exactly the same
to me. The same me who writes this poem
and at the time of writing

can still tell Kelly Clarkson apart
from the Simpson girl whose hair was first dark
then light then dark again.


Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy

Last night I watched Troy
burn and the body of Brad Pitt come
to rest on a patch of grass.

It was Patroclus who brought things
to this climax. Patroclus, the lord of horses,
somewhat older and less pretty in the book.
Someone Homer compared to
a swift hawk, descending on the starlings.

This afternoon I am discussing important
questions with a favorite professor, questions
of race and agency. Talking like this
has gotten us excited by love

of argument—much like Plato who held
Patroclus up as lover, not beloved,
his impersonation a final lesson to the eremonos.

And now I am trying not to concentrate
too hard on the face before me: thoughtful,
kind, framed with forking gray locks.
"This narrative," I say, "Doesn't define

freedom. Only its limits." He murmurs
and I think of love, a maneuver tricky as Odysseus,
and of the girl I call mine: the way she phoned
back last summer in the bookstore on 33rd St
and my heart did something complex

and wonderful for the first time as I set aside
my unbought copy of a lesser Greek's poems,
my finger sliding out from the place where
Cavafy writes that he is sitting

by the cafe door and has just seen
a young man, a form so lovely that only Eros
in his mastery could have fashioned it.