The Worker at Babel

Ever since Cain built a city, and Enos
called upon the name of the Lord,
we've been mad for both. So we thought
we'd build our city up to heaven:
the elders spoke, and everybody heard.
It was splendid work--I was foreman on top.
We were years into it, and then a moment
when I called down for more bricks,
and I might as well have spilled a hod
on their heads the way they squawked.
I barked back at them, and so it went,
bleatings and gabblings down the stories.
It was almost comical--not such a racket,
I suppose, since the ark thumped Ararat.
I found my kinsmen and my in-laws,
and we went forth and multiplied
the earth with new names. Lord,
it was Adam all over again. One of the names
was Babel--in another tongue it means
Gates of God. Because it was a way in:
though not, as we'd thought, through heaven.
Birds of Hoboken (Orchises Press). Among his awards are Pushcart Prizes and an
NEA Fellowship. He teaches creative writing and modern poetry at Texas Tech
University. His recent publications include poems in
Poetry, Tin House, Ninth Letter,
The Greensboro Review
and Ontario Review, and critical essays on the craft of
poetry in
The Yale Review and Kenyon Review.