In 2009, after promoting my Charlemagne book and working on projects for other people, I was word-weary and exhausted. To make writing fun again—without worrying about marketability, editors’ impressions, or other people’s needs—I started composing poems inspired by the gargoyles and grotesques that adorn my friendly neighborhood neo-Gothic cathedral.
Three years and more than fifty poems later, this series is complete—and, to my amazement, the gracious folks at the cathedral have granted permission for their typically publication-shy beasties to show their faces in print. Later this summer, Looking Up: Poems from the National Cathedral Gargoyles will be available as a 138-page trade paperback. I’ll donate the bulk of the profits (whatever they may be) to the cathedral to help fund post-earthquake repairs.
Many of the poems will be freshly polished; here are links to the first drafts. (The final two poems won’t be posted here; they’ll appear solely in the paperback.)
A wild boar who wants to rule the world.
An octopus reappraising her lobster.
A bitter but alliterative Anglo-Saxon mother.
A Gollum-like monster on All Hallows’ Eve.
A creepy dragon with an Arthurian autumn elegy.
A tiger mother singing a Midsummer goblin song.
A bird and dragon, doomed to dance.
Medusa, with angels.
A robot camera, conjuring a sprite.
An alligator, delaying salvation.
A rooftop-ruling monster.
A bellyaching, medlar-eating monster.
An insect with an identity crisis.
A skeletal beast decaying on Good Friday.
A unicorn with Easter dreams.
A caveman, soft on the inside.
A scholarly owl with stories to tell.
A dog on the trail of a thief.
Rilke, through raccoonish eyes.
A medievalist goat going all Carolingian.
A skeletal horse, mindful of Mother Goose.
A bird who celebrates Sukkot.
A snake with a taste for antiquarianism, and rabbit.
A smiling dragon.
A tradition-minded frog.
An indefatigable fish.
A monster, begging for silence.
A mouse with his eyes on circling skies.
A devil, exiled from the Garden State.
Two autumn rabbits, one thankful, one not.
A confused Boethian hamster.
Cerberus, barking mad.
A bat-creature, in Nordic disrepair.
A restless, bookish elephant.
An insecure, artsy deer.
The anecdotal basenji.
A lovelorn, molar-clutching monster.
A medieval-minded birdwatcher.
Pan, not even mostly dead.
Baby Pan, undaunted by snow.
A rooster, resigned to vicissitude.
Some vegetation, sinning through the weeds.
An administrator on form and façade.
A fish who spouts one slippery riddle.
An angel on an Easter Vigil.
A monster, with a winter warning.
The bishop, recalling Chaucer.
A fallen angel, who knows his Chaucer, too.
A ghazal by a cicada…
…and a cockroach’s reply.
Thank you to everyone who linked, commented, or otherwise supported this project! I hope you’ll enjoy the resulting book.