The Mad Scholar

 Gary Dop



They’ll say it was a dream, but the dirt

in his hand was old, and blood slipped from

his nose to the pocket of his chin

when his eyes first opened up

on the light behind

the streaming leaves.


He could have still been there clutching

a spear, holding the boat’s side, moving

toward Heorot, the waves lapping the wood

forward, covering his sneakers

in dark salt water.


It had worked, standing on the old text,

on the third hill on the long stone

outside Copenhagen leaning

forward, striking the flint together

in the air, seeking some redemption. 


The beast would have killed him, but Beow’s

hands took Grendel’s arm and in the scurry

out the tall door, in the ripping,

bleeding, dying, the creature’s good elbow

caught his arm and shoved his watch into his

soft nose and he saw the leaves above him

battle with the modern sun. 


Gary Dop received his MFA from the University of Nebraska.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, AGNI Online, The New Formalist, and South Dakota Review, among others.  He directs the Taproot Reading Series in Minneapolis where he is an assistant professor of English at North Central University.