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PROMETHEUS ON FIFTH AVENUE. Brett Rutherford. Revised second edition, 2018.

This is the companion volume to The Gods As They Are, On Their Planets, containing the remainder of that 2005 book's poems, many revised and expanded for this new edition, and newly typeset and illustrated. A set of poems from the poet’s childhood and young years in Pennsylvania, provokes the reader to re-think “imaginary playmates,” to re-live the anguish of doomed obsessions, and to revel in tree, forest, lake, and graveyard in his “first-found home.” Another sequence of love poems are sad, astronomical, haunted, and transcendental, culminating in the challenging poem “Triptych.” This book, containing poems written or revised between 1991 and 2004 in New York City and in Providence, RI, first appeared in 2005, released simultaneously in print and as a free PDF download. More than 15,000 copies were distributed to a world-wide audience.


No breath of wind
disturbs this perfect canvas:
dwarf roses, faded, leafless;
twisted branches gray and brown;
intricate overlay
of pristine snow, pyramidal
tracings of every line and arc
in flakes of fallen crystal.
Suspended within
this latticework
a thousand rose hips burn
like sour radishes
or petrified cherries,
a memory of blushes
and blood-flushed passion
caught unawares by winter.

An hour later, I pass again.
The snow’s calligraphy
is still untouched by wind.
Rose hips still beam
their ruddy messages.
The sun has slid
across the ice-sky
to its low-slung zenith
and one hundred
astonished roses
have opened their petals —
dying as fast
as they unfurl,
their wilting edges burned
by unkind frost,
virgin Juliets
no sooner born
than entombed.
The suicidal blooms
lean to the sun, pleading
their disbelief of darkness,
the impossibility
of sudden perishing.

Love comes unbidden thus,
as the capricious rose.

*** ***


Though I thought I had shed it,
this city has grown on me,
my head-top soaring
amid the clouds,
fingers outstretched
toward the harbor goddess.
I am all of it —
luster and greed,
poet and dreamer,
Helmsley and Trump
lording it over the slums of Lorca,
twin baby carriages
with baby investment bankers
scooting past squatter punks
pierced and tattooed in rage,
the towers clean and classic
for an Age of Silver,
the canyons squalid and smoking
with phosphorescent agony.
I can be all and celebrate all,
make my inkwell of the things
you dare not think of:
the crumbling infraworld
of steam pipes that, bursting,
cook office workers like lobsters,
the rivets and spikes that loosen
beneath the wheels of the subway,
the furtive shadow
that gives itself in doorways
to random takers.
This is Atlantis, Babel, Gomorrah and Tyre,
The Temple of Dendur, Tyrannosaur,
Ming, Qing and Tang ceramic,
Carnegie Hall, the Opera, the Symphony,
the thunder thump of 1812 in the Park.
The nights of undulating ecstasy
sparking still in a hundred thousand eyes
in the city that will not sleep
and will not surrender its secret yearnings,
the pagan embrace of gods in underwear
towering over neon flesh amphitheatre,
Times Square unsquaring America
into Dionysian dervish naked dancing.

I am the weed lot strewn with mattress springs,
the chaste fountains of Lincoln Center,
the pride of the library lions on Fifth Avenue.
Long-legged Athena strides here in the sunlight —
behind her, a meth Medusa beckoning.
Forward or backward? Where will this city go?
Where its inhabitants?
Jack hammers and dynamite
remake my countenance,
revise my profile.
I am always fleeing this city to save my soul.
I am always coming back
to make it anew in marble.

Second Edition: ISBN 978-0922558940. Published February 2018. 6 x 9 paperback, 262 pages, $13.95. CLICK HERE to order from Amazon.

Also available for $2.99 as a PDF-ebook. CLICK HERE to order and download from Payhip.


Version 24. Updated February 25, 2024.

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