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Herculaneum’s Fortune


This painting by Thomas Jones, (circa 1777, private collection) illustrates the layers surface terrain; the excavation reveals the depth below.

About Herculaneum’s Fortune:

The volcanic eruption that buried the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii (and their subsequent excavation) is a metaphor for how we experience destruction and survival. In Herculaneum’s Fortune, archeological excavation becomes the way we dig into our interior life, particularly after loss. Grief is both an acutely personal and universal experience.The act of excavating is an unearthing, a careful examining, an attempt to piece together what happened and what it means.

The poems examine how we first weather the immediate catastrophe. Then we must sift through (or begin excavating) the aftermath. Over time we live with the loss as part of the fabric of our lives. These are the experiences the poetry in Herculaneum’s Fortune aims to describe.

Herculaneum’s Fortune, Anaphora Literary Press (2014)



Praise for Herculaneum’s Fortune:

Phylinda Moore describes the poems of Herculaneum’s Fortune as insight into “… chaos, loss, and transition.” I found it also an exercise in imagining the past in fewer words, each “charged with meaning” in ways sometimes quite breathtaking. On time and the circularity of endings she tells us:

you died again last night
a wound at your stomach
still in your car.
In the swirl of your death
time flew back, gave a chance
but it slipped again

And forced to accept absence, she says

I feel love and future loss
two opposites holding hands

“These are wonderful poems, each telling its own story. And taken together something larger: Our Story.” -Beverly Swerling, Author most recently of the novel, Bristol House

“‘Blind Spots.’ It is beautifully written. The first two verses have wonderful imagery and are accessible. The third stanza though requires work. To me, the idea is that we create our own blind spots that help us to keep going, and we do it unconsciously which is why the ‘spot’ or lacunae in our make-up is blind to us but oh so evident, indeed palpable to someone else. We experience the force underlying a behavior or feeling that we can’t control. Our efforts to understand are generally limited to the behavior/feeling and not the underlying force that we are blind to. Ultimately the poem is about the limits of our self-knowledge and the fact that blind spots can be both destructive and life sustaining.” Steve Segal

“Machiavelli, in exile from Florence, (so I read at age 14,) gardened all day and drew in evening into stately garb to talk with the Roman dead. Your Fortune speaks to my own past self that leafed Pliny and Livy and others when we were young. ‘Frailty We Fear.’ It says well much that I have often felt.” John Bertolino

“I found your similes particularly original and often touching. . . I felt the mood was one of destruction and rebirth.” S.O.

Book categories: Poetry