Eric Ekstrand–LAODICEA

Eric Ekstrand



(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,

Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

—“The Wound Dresser”; omitted from the inscription 

                                     above the Dupont Metro Station


That I can’t have You, rival

to personal choice, completely


without dying as the president’s

helicopters in trinity


for confusion fly low

over the river, conspiracy


black as You are

conspiracy black in low, stern


minerals, is one unconscious

consternation I have kept, Land.


Gripped-down plants

sprung in middle-states


are slightly more

like us to You and slightly


more like You to us. People

can only think of the plants as objects


of beauty or use. In Washington,

all of the plants are protestant,


mid-Atlantic, small and old

like oldest mountains are smallest.


Like Larkin-darkened post-war

Britain, the old mountains

Are concise and Lenten;

Or like Auden (if I were sarcastic

Because they are wrinkled

And in America). But with

Auden, I’m not sarcastic.

He is a great small mountain.

These have been my two simple elegies.


Smallest tear-drop leaves

in republican hunter-green,


green chair-leather

tightened with brass, so that a bush


looks like something a campaign

analyst might strategize upon.


The golden dog pauses

valueless among the muscle


of the word rhododendron.

A little triangular garden


below an equestrian north

of Dupont, west of Adams Morgan


is a leniency city architects

permit You to mark the small


difference between fashionable

young, the rich homosexuals


and a famous Russian restaurant.

The horse strides nobly


towards the edge of an iron block

in preemptive slapstick;


except, if You’ve actually seen

a horse fall, (You must’ve),


You know it isn’t funny.

Constant anonymous grass


and a decorative black iron gate

are all unhurried. A bit of


The Wound Dresser above

the metro entrance is a chilling


way to go underground.

This has been my third simple elegy.


Before the Duke Ellington Bridge

going West on the right


is a plaster finial above the door post

of a row house on which


are cast two ladies gathered

in Elysian roaches repainted:


one as a Greek woman and one

as a black woman of post-social-reform


anachronism, meringued

in olive branches—a refashion


intent, unlike the Elysian Fields, Land,

or the baby panda that rolls-over,


virtual in the DC public zoo

reproduced on the metro cards


because its image is innocuous

and without a sense of symbol.