Aug 19 2015

The Executioner


stands in a lake

of silence.

Hours termite

into hollow trees.


Published in The Dressing Room Poetry Journal

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Aug 18 2015

Brian Henry is a poet who likes to play. In the following piece, you will note lines of precisely 5 syllables in length. He once told me he wrote a sonnet a day for a year for fun, I think. Or maybe it was a story Hayden Carruth told about Ezra Pound who once wrote a sonnet a day for a year and then threw them all away. Carruth told the workshop he was guest-teaching, “and if you can’t do that, then you’re not a poet.” Either way, as the wondrous Tomaž Šalamun would say, it’s good mythology. In this vein, I am asking my poetry students to write their own small offerings, inspired by Mr. Henry’s piece (Brian might say here, Mr. Henry is my father), of 5 syllables per line, and at least 5 lines in length. You can play along too…


Revenge is no dish

and should not be served

at all, much less cold.


But as a guiding

principle, revenge

can cast quite a light.


Although it begins

in darkness, it breaks,

so timely, toward

any little shine:


may your object of

revenge be standing

or, better, kneeling

in front of you when

that light breaks to sun.


Poet, translator, and editor Brian Henry earned his BA at the College of William & Mary and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His collections of poetry include Astronaut (2000), American Incident (2002), Graft (2003), Quarantine (2006), In the Unlikely Event of a Water (2007), The Stripping Point (2007), Wings Without Birds (2010), Lessness (2011), and Doppelgänger (2011). An advocate for Slovenian poets and poetry, he has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (2008) and Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things (2010). Henry’s translation of Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers received a 2011 Howard Foundation fellowship.

Henry edited the collection of essays On James Tate (2004). He is the cofounder and coeditor, with Andrew Zawacki, of Verse Magazine. Henry and Zawacki also coedited The Verse Book of Interviews: 27 Poets on Language, Craft & Culture (2005).

Henry’s poems, essays, and translations have been published widely in journals such as Jacket, the Georgia Review, the Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright Program, the Slovenian Ministry of Culture, and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. His honors and awards include a Distinguished Educator Award, a Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, an Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and a George Bogin Memorial Award. He teaches at the University of Richmond.