Maze without a Minotaur

By Dana Gioia b. 1950 Dana Gioia
If we could only push these walls   
apart, unfold the room the way   
a child might take apart a box   
and lay it flat upon the floor—
so many corners cleared at last!   
Or else could rip away the roof   
and stare down at the dirty rooms,   
the hallways turning on themselves,   
and understand at last their plan—
dark maze without a minotaur,   
no monsters but ourselves.
                                       Yet who
could bear to see it all? The slow   
descending spirals of the dust   
against the spotted windowpane,   
the sunlight on the yellow lace,
the hoarded wine turned dark and sour,
the photographs, the letters—all   
the crowded closets of the heart.

One wants to turn away—and cry   
for fire to break out on the stairs   
and raze each suffocating room.   
But the walls stay, the roof remains   
strong and immovable, and we   
can only pray that if these rooms   
have memories, they are not ours.

Dana Gioia, “Maze without a Minotaur” from The Gods of Winter. Copyright © 1991 by Dana Gioia. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: The Gods of Winter: Poems (Graywolf Press, 1991)

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Poet Dana Gioia b. 1950


Subjects Home Life, Relationships

 Dana  Gioia


It seems almost a requirement for a poet to have an unconventional résumé, but Dana Gioia’s is perhaps notable for being so conventionally unpoetic. A graduate of Stanford Business School, Gioia claims to be “the only person, in history, who went to business school to be a poet.” He later rose to become a vice president at General Foods, where he marketed products such as Kool-Aid. These experiences in the corporate world, Gioia . . .

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SUBJECT Home Life, Relationships


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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