Poem of the Week | August 09, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Memento Mori” by Virginia Konchan!

Virginia Konchan is the author of three poetry collections, Hallelujah Time (Véhicule Press, 2021), Any God Will Do and The End of Spectacle (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2020 and 2018); a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (Noctuary Press, 2017); and four chapbooks, as well as coeditor (with Sarah Giragosian) of Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems (University of Akron Press, 2022).


Memento Mori

For the time being I am all parenthesis,
deferral: a placeholder for meaning,

bones exhumed by vandals
to meet the misanthropic air.

Exile’s not for the faint of heart.
My mode of transport: trudging.

What if romantic disillusion
is the last and final mirage?

J’accuse, loan shark.
J’accuse, voyeur.

Today is a good day
for local prostitutes,

for retching into porcelain.
Who invented hell, anyway?

I’m sad to say I made it look easy:
the moon, too, abases its subjects.

Can we ever win against entropy?
Can we ever just choose the self?

Scripture or sculpture:
you think you can choose.

Behold the lamb: behold the I,
abacus it took forever to learn.

My morbid shame rushes to the future:
the body knows what it needs to burn.


Author’s Note

Ontologically, Christianity posits that our being is coextensive with God (Acts 17:28); modern psychology with a self or ego. “Memento Mori” explores the mystery of subject formation from theological and secular (linguistic and aesthetic) perspectives, in remembrance of our mortality.