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Max Heinegg

Sisyphus

Poets can't get enough of the boulder.
Camus, who may as well have been
a poet, said he loved that man
in the frozen multiverse can choose
to assert private meaning & justify the absurdity
of existence, laughing back at the deathless
gods, a savory bit of payback.
My students call him Syphilis.
Stop. I say, You're ruining the mood.

Back to the rock: Gluck’s icy, but she rolls it
easily. Homer’s is for Ajax to hurl, a ton weight.
A millstone only Apollo can save Hector from,
for now. I draw mine in dry erase on the wall
by the window. Erudite vandalism? More
small crimes for daily inspiration! Thinking
less of Camus than reading D’aulaires, laughing
when I read the husband/wife team wrote of the wily
king on his return to the beloved, Fooled him again!

Anything to be alive! To bask in the climb
like Alex Honnold on the staggering face
of El Capitan, smiling, granite-minded, all
long handed limberness. Utterly prepared
for the fabulous labor of his scaling.
Or in the TV Avatar, the blind earth-bender Toph,
the teacher who listens & waits, staring down the muscle-
bound Boulder, who learns a sexist is a Pebble!
Or you, my braver, showing me the mundane is not

that every day. To notice the position of the rock,
how it’s emblem also. To mark,
by contrast, the cloud-cover shadowing
it, our grit influencing the ground's give. Our days
spent hovering over what will be
our grave & time. To be taught a better attitude,
a wiser manner to manage a grief perpetual,
to wield this terrakinesis! To never tire
of the flesh, until it tires of us.


Max Heinegg lives and teaches in Medford, MA. He is the author of Good Harbor, forthcoming spring 2022, which won the inaugural Paul Nemser Prize from Lily Poetry Review. His work has appeared in 32 Poems, Thrush, The Cortland Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Nimrod, among others. His new record of poetry adaptations will arrive in late 2021, and his previous solo records can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com

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