Ralph Monday is Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 50 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press.
Website: Ralph Monday
Back in the day, those were the
times, much better than now—
little golden paradise
nuggets that make us
Remember 455 A.D. when the
Vandals sacked Rome?
Man, what a time!
Beheadings perfectly legal,
women ripe for the plucking, and
you could be a king with a long enough
Or 476 A.D. when the last Roman
emperor Romulus Augustulus was
deposed by German mercenaries
and the beautiful, light-filled dark
ages began? Sweet!
How about 1346 when the Black
Death cranked up? You could make a
fine living casting chicken bones for a
If that’s not enough for remembering
the good old days, just think back to
1478 and the establishment of the
Be a priest and strip women naked to
see if they had moles or birthmarks,
sure sign of the devil. You could
examine them at your leisure,
probe at will—better than a 1950s
mutoscope card, and no one accused
you of being a pervert. If the witch
didn’t like the love, burn her,
light her up like a Halloween bonfire.
Or just hit up 17th century Salem,
same deal, different Bible.
If all this old stuff gets to be too much of a
drag, skip ahead to the nifty 50s,
you know, post WWII. America
was rocking. Women knew their
place, blacks had to drink at separate
water fountains, pee in a different
pool. Sock hops, soda pops, and love
in the backseat without contraceptives
was all the rage.
Man! Those were the days!
I doubt if the future
will ever be able to look
back on such swell times.
Pandora in February
This one came from the west, the land of the
setting sun, in ancient mythology the entrance
to the underworld, but this was a birth
a gray owl wings billowing out as it hatched
from the clouds, this paradox of a storm named
Diversity flew from your box when you opened the
lid: snow, sleet, rain, ice, all in order like a band
marching the field in time.
Then ice, rain, sleet, snow released from the boxed
sky as though you had long waited, millennia, for
this chance to once again stare at the gifts
provided by the gods. This time you would be a
woman with a mind of her own.
This time you would chide Eve for not doing the
same, tell her that a tree and a heaven-forged
cube are Rosetta stones in their own right,
when carefully prepared,
roasted and turned at the stove, so that
all blends together in a fine recipe, that it is
ok to walk naked—
haven’t men and gods always made us do
so? That it is ok to think for yourself, take
on your own personality not forged by
anonymous scribes. See how I come flying
from the sky? You can do the same and forget
about fig leaves—
you don’t need them. Take my hand, walk with
me. You can open the box as well, and I’ll be
damned if this time I leave them hope.
Strange at dusk two intersecting
jet trails at right angles formed a
perfect cross white-bleeding across the
blue waning to mountain purple.
It was as though history was stitching
a message in air.
This is the cross Constantine saw,
his Chi Rho that would intersect
the paths of history, hanging now
like a clothesline waiting to be
filled from the Inquisition to
Salem to the fog-filled Appalachians.
Inheritance that made acceptable
the wife for twenty years
accepting the drunk
husband—it is my cross to bear.
Or the homeless seeking shelter from the
winter cold—it is my cross to bear.
The hungry scrounging through
dumpsters—it is my cross to bear.
The angry-battered through no
self-fault—it is my cross to bear.
The desert refugee from chattering
guns—it is my cross to bear.
These days even the heavens has across to bear.