Empire of Wonder

by Chad Sweeney

Then I knew it was dawn

through which we passed


as through a series of revolving doors

backwards into night


where the tender

red of the pomegranite


lit the lamps in the womb,

the last morning


or the first,

the always-not-yet



where mounted on the horizon


the irons we used

to brand the animals with their names


sank back into the alphabet,

and the prows of ancient islands,


heroic, lapidary torsos

swayed untroubled on the harbor,


answering yes to whatever asked,

to carpenters’ gloves


hanging in clusters from their trellis,

to parapets and mines,


to the furious mineral silence

of the chairs.

CHAD SWEENEY is the author of three books of poetry, Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James, 2010), Arranging the Blaze (Anhinga, 2009), and An Architecture (BlazeVOX, 2007) and editor of Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose (City Lights, 2009). Sweeney’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Crazyhorse, New American Writing, Colorado Review, Black Warrior, and elsewhere. He is coeditor of Parthenon West Review and is working toward a Ph.D. in literature at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he teaches poetry and serves as assistant editor of New Issues Press.