Festival, Pompeii

By Eileen Hennessy

Celebration of the harvest.

Something for everyone.

Blue plate special, hot plate,

cold plate, plate of the day.

White-clothed table in the courtyard,

dishes heaped with grains and fruits


spilling onto the paving stones,

the children scrabbling,

their white stick-fingers clutching

at the slippery rolling bits.


A puppet show: Little fish

that swallowed big fish

that swallowed bigger fish

swallows man.  And all the while


people mourning for the old-time feast:

for white bread and honey, for milk

running from silver spigots.

And all the while the grapes waiting,

already dusted with ash.



Eileen Hennessy‘s poems and short stories have been published in numerous literary journals. Her two book-length collections of poems are This Country of Gale-force Winds, published by NYQ Books in 2011, and Places Where We Have Lived Forever, published by Off The Park Press in 2015. She is a translator of legal and commercial documentation and books on art history into English from several other West European languages, and teaches in the translation studies program at New York University.

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