The Poetry of Eugene Platt

Claire Bateman Weekly Hubris Banner 2017

“As she sips her cold beer, I my Irish,/ sweet Keats lies asleep peacefully nearby/ on a favorite tartan-covered chair,/oblivious of coronavirus./In previous incarnations, this cat/likely lived through countless outbreaks of these,/if not of one disease, then another./Truly, there’s nothing new under the sun.”—Eugene Platt

Speculative Friction

By Claire Bateman

Eugene Platt. (Photo: Alice Keeney.)

Eugene Platt. (Photo: Alice Keeney.)

Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 August 2021—Poet Eugene Platt, an octogenarian, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. After serving in the Army (11th Airborne and 24th Infantry Divisions), he earned degrees at the University of South Carolina and Clarion University of Pennsylvania as well as a diploma in Anglo-Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin. He has published widely and has given over 100 public readings of his work at colleges and universities across the nation. While studying at Trinity College, he was invited to read in the inaugural Dublin Arts Festival in 1970. Some of his poems have been choreographed. He was the first Poet Laureate of the Town of James Island and was Poet-in-Residence for public radio station WSCI. His most recent collection of poems, Nuda Veritas, was published by Revival Press (Ireland) in 2020. He lives in Charleston with his main muses: Montreal-born wife Judith; Corgi, Bess; and cats, Finnegan and Maeve.

Nuda Veritas

In alcohol-induced sleep deep enough
to allow entry to Eve or any other temptress,
there appears an image of a woman
I have coveted in secret since puberty.  

As I approach her to take her
into what could be the ultimate embrace,
she holds a hand mirror outward to invite me,
rather than ogle her beguiling body,  

to consider the naked truth about myself,
the prototypical Adam inside each of us,
making excuses eternally for shortcomings
we know we must own forever. 

Dresden’s Frauenkirche Weeps for Notre-Dame de Paris 

It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed.—British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a March 28, 1945, memo following the firebombing of Dresden  

Monday in Holy Week 2019 

“Paris horrified” hollers the headline
of my faraway city’s daily the day after
a wartime-like fire jolts the joie de vivre of spring
and ravages the regal Notre-Dame de Paris.
But below the bold headline in a line below the fold,
we are relieved to read no one was killed—
although one of the four hundred firefighters was injured,
moving believers to beseech balm for his burns. 

Ash Wednesday 1945 

Centuries too late to vindicate Dante before his death,
the late-in-the-war inferno inflicted indiscriminately
on friend and foe, civilian and combatant, Gentile and Jew,
by swarms of Allied bombers dropping valentines of vengeance
from the Dresden sky, incites continuing controversy:
Were “only” 20,000 souls immolated in those attacks?
Or was the number nearer double the 70,000 atomized
in the no-less-controversial annihilation of Hiroshima?  

Then and Now 

Safe from harm in the center of a city declared “open,”
Notre-Dame de Paris wept sacred tears that Ash Wednesday
for a sister cathedral hundreds of kilometers away
in once-royal Saxony’s Florence on the Elbe.
The Baroque not-so-fortunate Frauenkirche,
now fully and famously restored, dedicated to reconciliation,
sheds tears in turn today, on their shared road to Golgotha,
for a forlorn lady shivering in the shadow of the Cross. 

Our Cat Eschews the Evening News

What has been will be again . . .
            there is nothing new under the sun.
                                       —Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)  

Keats our cat is so centered, he could not
care less about those troubles on the tube.
Aloof, he’s above the daily travails
of humankind, eschews the Evening News.  

To be sure, his species would be appalled
if he, just like my wife and I must be,
were so addicted to the Evening News,
NBC, ABC, or CBS.  

As she sips her cold beer, I my Irish,
sweet Keats lies asleep peacefully nearby
on a favorite tartan-covered chair,
oblivious of coronavirus.   

In previous incarnations, this cat
likely lived through countless outbreaks of these,
if not of one disease, then another.
Truly, there’s nothing new under the sun. 

Note: The poem “Dresden’s Frauenkirche Weeps for Notre-Dame de Paris” was first published by Into the Void. It has been reprinted in La Piccioletta Barca and Charleston Currents. “Nuda Veritas” is the title poem of the collection Nuda Veritas. It was inspired by the painting of the same title by Gustav Klimt. 

To order copies of Claire Bateman’s books Scape or Coronology from Amazon, click on the book covers below.Bateman ScapeBateman Coronology

About Claire Bateman

Claire Bateman’s books include Scape (New Issues Poetry & Prose); Locals (Serving House Books), The Bicycle Slow Race (Wesleyan University Press), Friction (Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize), At The Funeral Of The Ether (Ninety-Six Press, Furman University), Clumsy (New Issues Poetry & Prose), Leap (New Issues), and Coronology (Etruscan Press). She has been awarded Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Surdna Foundation, as well as two Pushcart Prizes and the New Millennium Writings 40th Anniversary Poetry Prize. She has taught at Clemson University, the Greenville Fine Arts Center, and various workshops and conferences such as Bread Loaf and Mount Holyoke. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina. (Please see Bateman’s Author’s Page for links to all her publications, and go here for further information about the poet and her work.) (Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)
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