The Mad Scholar
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.