“Centripetal Faith” by Andrew Benson Brown

The Greeks observed, in their curving theaters, just how the straight
path of dodging fate revolves one towards its center.
The mask of the tragic presenter expressed each face’s frown.
And to steal another’s crown of fate, that’s twice as grim
when two spools too quickly grow slim, two wound-up knitting skeins
are uncoiled and cut in twain as they hug, intertwined.
It’s true, the planets align once every hundred years
or so, veering to smile at their wandering fellow spheres.
Then the sun’s commandment steers them away to orbit alone.

The Hebrews knew, praying beneath their domes in the sand,
that though cupped in Heaven’s hand, one can’t escape its turning.
When a golden temple is burning and sorrow fills the sky,
and the new moon on high occults each brilliant star
and eyelids close and the scarred breast, submerged in sobbing,
quickens its sharp throbbing till hollowed, voided, cold
fingers can still be folded in prayer: it warms the heart,
unveils celestial charts concealed in infinity—
but it’s not enough to save a temple built of gold.

Andrew Benson Brown was a graduate student at George Mason University before taking too many classes outside his discipline coincided with the reality of Debt. He now works as a children’s caseworker in rural Missouri. In his spare time, he reads obscure classics, writes things of little market value, and exercises far more than is befitting for a modern intellectual.

9 thoughts on ““Centripetal Faith” by Andrew Benson Brown

  1. Much thanks for posting, Randal. This is one of my favorite poetry journals—and not just because you are willing to publish my humble work!

    Just realized a typographical inconsistency: in beginning of the second line of the second stanza, ‘That’ should be lowercase, as should ‘And’ in the fourth and fifth lines. I blame Microsoft Word’s autocorrect when I did some last-minute touch-ups. Oh well, there are worse errors.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for updating. Yes, an infuriating tendency. I am sometimes in the habit of printing off my work, for some reason catch it on the page where I don’t on a screen.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A brilliant poem! Evocative, mysterious, and labyrinthine. My favourite line has to be “and the new moon on high occults each brilliant star” – ingenious use of the word “occult”, which literally speaking means “hidden”, but of course has so many deeper associations. An air of magic pervades. Phenomenal work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A remarkable poem – structurally, but even more importantly in its content: as if some brooding, musing spirit were surveying the two great traditions that Matthew Arnold held responsible for Western civilisation – the Greek and the Hebrew – and each trying to come to terms with some destiny in the stars that simply can’t be foretold. The last line is particularly awesome and ominous whether we consider it an allusion to Solomon or Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem; all those prayers failing, and even gold, the indestructible metal, failing. Wonderful work – and I would echo ABB’s praise of the editor. This is a bold choice to publish. Calliope indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Appreciate your astute comments, James, and your accolades. Arnold is indeed one of my favorite cultural critics, and I did have him in mind when writing this. The importance of the Greek tradition to the west is not acknowledged by fundamentalists on the right, while many of those on the radical left want to discard monotheism entirely. Both made us what we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very interesting poem, Andrew, both in form and content. I really enjoyed the paradoxical descriptions like curved/straight/resolves and mask/expressing and cold fingers/warm heart. This poem shows the depth and versatility of a master poet.

    Liked by 1 person

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