It is a city of spectacle, and I suppose
the best and worst of men have loved
these: the marble whiteness of gulls
whirling in the wind about a vacant
patch of earth that seems to contain
something to attract them,
or in the circumscription of the sky
clouded and chill above the back alleys’
apartments, a stirring that will yield
who knows what tomorrow – a beginning of
thoughts ready to form the indelible.
If we look at the thinghood of monuments
we might miss the feathery homage of bare
trees, branching to the sky. Yet I suppose
that the worst and best of men have loved
these: the Attic reach of columns, an occasional
building, seeming to be the edifice of power,
something after all dark and brooding
over an inhuman and inscrutable intent.
J. H. Beall is a member of the faculty at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, a senior consultant to the Space Sciences Division at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. He was a Congressional Science Fellow and an employee at the Office of Technology Assessment for the United States Congress from 1978 to 1979. Beall was a co-moderator and co-organizer with Maxine Kumin and William Meredith for the symposium, Science and Literature, held at the Library of Congress in 1981. He was also the project administrator for In the Shadow of the Capitol, an oral history of the Black Intellectual Community in Washington, DC between 1922 and 1963, which culminated in a colloquium at the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1981. His work has been featured on Grace Cavalieri's "Poet and the Poem" program at the Library of Congress. Beall has published in the Hollins Critic and the St. John's Review. His first book, Hickey, the Days, was published by The Word Works in 1981. His second book, Republic, was published by Toad Hall Press in 2010. The Italian translation of Republic is forthcoming.