Hayden's Ferry Review

Peter and Lord

T. Zachary Cotler took our poetry editors on a nice little walk through history and theology. Why don't you join us? 

By: T. Zachary Cotler



Wind in the
canyon an
sound: I stand on
a horse-sized stone:
hasn’t moved
since it broke
                      from the ledge
                      years ago... legend of
Peter and Lord and the horseshoe
up-                 drifting to
                                       the mental surface:

Lord sees a bent iron U
in the road and
pick that
he tells apostle Peter, who thinks it
not worth it, so Lord picks it
and they come to a village, and proto-capitalist Lord
sells U to a smith for a single base coin
and buys from an orchardman
handfuls of cherries,
and onward, drops
                                from time
to time in the road, and so
Peter picks
these unforbiddens without being
asked...   I think
about this, crushing
with my shoe,
against the visceral
canyon’s hippolith,
then I go on
the canyon,
trying to
imagine a benevolent
world government.

Theodore Zachary Cotler is the author of a novel, Ghost at the Loom (MP, 2014), a critical monograph, Elegies for Humanism (Rare Bird, 2015), and three books of poetry, House with a Dark Sky Roof (Salt, 2011), Sonnets to the Humans (Ahsahta, 2013), and Supplice (Center for Literary Publishing, 2014). His awards include the Colorado Prize, the Sawtooth Pri ze, the Amy Clampitt Residency, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He is a founding editor at www.winteranthology.com, which recently gave birth to The Winter Film Company, where production has begun on a feature film about poets and poetry, co-directed by Cotler and filmmaker/novelist Magdalena Zyzak.

This poem has a beautiful and seemingly simplistic style which builds on a biblical myth to draw attention to our current living situations. What led you to select religious characters for this poem? Do you feel that choice created an inherent juxtaposition with our current normality?

Thanks. It's hard to be a literary critic of one's own work, always a little impoverishing. I truly don't know/remember what led me to it, and even to say that sounds a bit ponderous, so better to just think it and not confess it. No? If you must have a statement, could it be no more than this:
I wrote on long walks at that time and had been reading Goethe then, so some themes from his poems and some phenomena in the canyon got tumbled with my particular politics/aesthetics, and then, after most of the politics boiled off, this was left. I prefer no statement at all, but I don't want to be difficult.