Ceramic tile made by Pewabic Pottery of Detroit. Photo courtesy of Greg Sendi.

By Greg Sendi


What’s the thing he says after the parts
are dealt, in night-before-the-battle mode,
blurting as the dopey troupe departs?
A kind of grave hoo-rah or lock-and-load—

as if their oafy show were Agincourt
or Bosworth and his overwrought goodbye
a see-you-on-the-other-side-old-sport—
maybe with forearm-clutching, thigh to thigh.

And later, in full-on asshattery
under the moon, the way the sprite queen dotes
pub-drunk on nonsense love, the flattery,
his appetite for headscratching and oats,

the berries and bouquets each nymph extracts—
the gag is she’s the only one enchanted.
He’s just himself. He likes the snacks.
He is a sop for adulation, granted,

but, to her roiling hungry panting, cold—
a masterpiece of lunacy, cemented
glazed and cast on cladding tile, the mold
an inverse to disunion unpresented.

Applaud the nameless potter for the arms
devised a telltale way—his in distrust,
crosscut, hers tendering him a plea of charms
as if, aware their dreams are drawn in dust,

to ask, “What will become of us, sweet love?
What part of promise may survive unspelling?
What docile breeze won’t scatter us above
the distant sundering sky and past retelling?”

To which, if you and I had been supplied
with parts, would we recall how underneath
this same moon, at his slo-mo suicide,
we nearly peed our pants and couldn’t breathe?

The poem is (among other things) a reflection on a work of ceramic tile made by Pewabic Pottery of Detroit showing the scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Bottom is transformed into an ass and Titania is in love with him. The original of this tile is included as part of a fireplace compilation of story tableaus located in the children’s reading room of the Detroit Public Library that was installed in 1926. So, you see, there’s even a library connection to this one!