Travis Wayne Denton


—For Kate Johnson

The spiders in my house wear bells—
Little ones so I know when they are near.
New borns pour out a carol from the chimney.
Black widows and wolfs clang
From the toes of my shoes in the closet,
Kindly letting me know the danger they intend me.
They are soft with fur and some have claws.
They are cats and we are birds in the yard—
My wife and daughter and me.

Their every step and ring polites, Next, please,
As we move from room to room.
At night, their tiny lights bead from under the fridge
Or a cabinet’s corner as I reach in for a mug,
Testing their hunger and resolve—
Their contentment with bellyfuls of fly and moth,
Proving that our truce is a golden mean.
I nap, they range and bring music
From the window sill, picturing
Our bodies caught in silk—
Empty vessels to be filled.


Do not think of Achilles staggering—
That storied heel and poison arrow.
But think of him lying under whatever sky you can imagine,
Under whatever constellations a hero of his stature
Lies under that gets him contemplating lofty things—
Not thinking of his own unmaking, but of Patroclus,
Put down, his lover, in borrowed armor, brought low,
Arms, legs, cock and balls like sullied prunes,
And from there, that one grief,
How he ponders everyone’s unmaking
No one left standing, no planet turning,
Every camp and city fallen—
Tents left to cinder, kicked-in doors, walls down,
Hector cut down.
But what’s more than that single grief
Set in the old time story of loss and revenge,
Achilles grows lonely to understand
He’s even unmade the Gods who made him,
That not a godammed thing is wrought or destined,
Something the least of us find—
No divine mover, all moving in retrograde or rusting,
And from then on he sees only fire, nothing but fire.


Travis Wayne Denton lives in Atlanta where he is the Associate Director of Poetry @ TECH as well as a McEver Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech. He is also founding editor of the literary arts publication, Terminus Magazine. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, such as MEAD: a magazine of literature and libations, The Atlanta Review, The Greensboro Review, Washington Square, Forklift, Rattle, Tygerburning, Birmingham Poetry Review, and the Cortland Review. His second collection of poems, When Pianos Fall from the Sky, was published in October 2012 by Marick Press.