Peter Weltner ~ Late December


The year is turning. A hard wind blows the crows
and gulls in the loops of a Chinese ribbon dance.

Of if they flap their wings, test their strength
against the air’s, they fly nowhere, suspended.

All is beautiful, what stays or goes, the waves’ white
water tumbling to the sea’s tympanic rhythm

that like desire loves itself and in its pulse,
its steady beat, repeats, “This never changes.”


Antigone knows that for the dead any deed done
must be holy, must leave its sacred mark.

Creon chose city over awe and so he wails:
fate, not their own hand struck wife and son.

What is lovely to the gods is piety. Yet they stab,
they hang, and make a bridal bed a grave.


Nails driven in, a spear, soldiers’ apathy,
his mother’s tears, a restive crown, agony.

Torture by the Roman book: a cross for Jesus,
no broken temple, no noontime dark, no thunder.

His father can’t watch, is shocked, hides in horror,
fears for his son, betrayed, entombed, decaying.


Annihilation is absurd, death is obscene, sears
all sense. The gods know holy bodies rot to bone.

Yet, dead when their caves are unsealed, Antigone,
Jesus, rise in their stories. Legends. Myths,

Poems of what the world is like, the tragedy of wind,
how it blows all away, its force too strong to resist,

and of birds, playing in the air, making a game
of a stormy day, elated by the currents they ride on.


from The Outerlands, BrickHouse Books, 2011

Read more of Peter Weltner’s poetry in
DM 108 ~ Pride
Now open @

Peter Weltner has published six books of fiction, including The Risk of His Music and How the Body Prays, and, in 2017, The Return of Whats Been Lost, five poetry chapbooks, among them The One-Winged Body and Water’s Eye (both in collaboration with the artist Galen Garwood), and six full length collections of poetry, News from the World at My Birth: A History, The Outerlands, To the Final Cinder, Stone Altars, Late Summer Storm in Early Winter (with photographs and paintings by Galen Garwood), and most recently The Light of the Sun Become Sea.  He and his husband live in San Francisco by the ocean.

Danse Macabre is proud to name Peter Weltner our 2017 Artist-in-Residence. May our dedicated Macabristas delight in his wondrous poetics in both DM and DM du Jour throughout the year – and heartfelt thanks to Peter for his generosity in sharing his artistry with us. Cent’anni!


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