Home > Poetry > Invitation au Voyage: Baltimore
Published: Mon Oct 15 1984
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Invitation au Voyage: Baltimore

Egyptian freighter, whining Arabic tunes,
muddy coffee over the galley name . . .

What explorers we are, testing the gangplank
of someone else’s ship.

On the wharf, Helen’s Bar:
she’s welcomed sailors in
for fifty years, manning the counter alone, upright

as a new bottle. Dog asleep
in a rocker, jukebox fat as a pope. Enter the swain
bearing his nightly gardenia, for her,

for her brandy glass.
We travel back
to my frostbitten garden, where you try

to harvest gourds by moonlight, filling the alley
with arias, you’re that drunk

and in love
with the impossible, I’m that drunk
and in love with some

idea of you, revenant
from another century:

when we turn to kiss,
the whole sea swarms between us.

An abyss.

See what's inside AGNI 21

Rosanna Warren is a member of AGNI’s Advisory Board. She is the author of five full-length poetry collections: So forth (2020), Ghost in a Red Hat (2011), Departure (2003), Stained Glass (1993), and Each Leaf Shines Separate (1984), all from W. W. Norton & Co, and one chapbook of poems (Snow Day, Palaemon Press, 1981). Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters (2020) and Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry (2008), a book of literary criticism, have also appeared from Norton. She edited and contributed to The Art of Translation: Voices from the Field (Northeastern University Press, 1989), and has edited three chapbooks of poetry by prisoners. With Stephen Scully, she translated Euripides’ Suppliant Women for Oxford University Press (1995).  She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Fund, and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, among others.  Stained Glass won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has also won the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lavan Younger Poets’ Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Award of Merit in Poetry from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the David Ferry and Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize from Suffolk University. She was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004–2005 she was president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. In 2009 she was appointed Secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. (updated 10/2023)

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