has published book-length translations of Virgil and Ovid, and is the author of two poetry collections, If Anything (WordTech, 2004) and Even As We Speak (University of Evansville Press, 2000), which won the Richard Wilbur Prize.
Among his other awards are the Robert Frost Prize, the Robert Penn Warren Prize and the Pinch Prize.
His poems have appeared many journals, among them The Antioch Review, The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, Measure, and Commonweal.
He was a four-time champion on the game show Jeopardy.
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Sans benefit of spoor of any kind
Beyond the hints a friendly docent’s dropped,
I’ve tracked him down deep in these marble halls:
The Quarry of Courbet. Stuck with my find,
I am alone within the gallery’s walls.
Before this strung-up hart, the day has stopped.
The piqueur, in his silly jockey’s cap
And scarlet vest, is giving breath to what
Looks much like a Victrola in the trees.
Winding this silent horn, hand on his hip,
He sits at what appears to be his ease,
Oblivious to the roe deer’s gleaming scut
Distended in a set of three bright rhymes,
The piqueur’s sleeve and two white-coated hounds
The complement. Its saddle brown, one turns
As if in query to the dog that mimes
A fixed intent from which the first one learns
How it must pose and make the proper sounds.
This pupil paws the ground a clotted red
Has soaked, and stiffens, in an arc, his tail,
Which curves in counter to the right hind leg
By which the prey depends. One creature dead,
One quick, their two forms hang upon a peg
A broken bow immensely out of scale.
Such matters weigh upon the afternoon,
And make me want to lean back just the way
The central-figured hunter takes his rest,
Propping a tree he won’t be leaving soon—
Or ever. Always, he will sleep recessed
In dark woods in the middle of the day,
Arms crossed in soft, self-satisfied embrace,
As if no gaze could take him unawares.
For in that look of rigorous content
That slumbers on his ember of a face,
He seems to think he’s thrown me off such scent
As first enticed me up these stone-cold stairs
And drew me to this trophy. What he doesn’t
Appear to register is that I came
For more than dog and deer; for more than him.
He thinks that I was hunting—when I wasn’t—
His prey, but no, I didn’t want the deer.
It was Courbet I looked for in the frame.