By Marvin Bell b. 1937 Marvin Bell
The fake Parthenon in Nashville, Stonehenge reduced by a quarter   
near Maryhill on the Columbia, the little Statue of Liberty   
taken from the lawn of the high school and not recovered
             for months,
Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in the tile maker’s shape of a ship   
to sail home in, the house in the shape of a ship near Milwaukee   
where once before the river below rose up to swallow the bank,   
World’s Fairs where one can enter the cell of a human body   
or see Paris, London, Marrakech and the Taj Mahal in
             one afternoon,
the headache that may be sinus or bad eyes or allergy or a tumor,   
the bruise that was blue now yellow the effect of labor or abuse,   
the cataclysmic event in a personal life not totally forgotten,   
the memory of doing well that turned to unexpressed anger   
just because love was everywhere preventing helpless mistakes—
achievement and perfection for the first time considered in error,   
the end of life being life itself, life itself ignorance,
we never tire of making the world smaller, looking in doll houses,   
and a mailman who has picked up every bright piece of glass and tile   
in forty years of rounds retired to build a house of glass and tile
which is his life, no kick coming, while in a suburb of Chicago
a leaning tower of Pisa drawn to scale signals a shopping plaza   
where goods come in from around the world, for the people who
             live there.
And Vico says gods and goddesses are the self writ large—
selves to make earthquakes, tornadoes, eclipses, selves to lift the sun—   
and Vico says all things having been named for the namers, us,   
we give a chair arms, legs, a seat and a back, a cup has its lip
and a bottle its neck, and ever after rivers flow from their headwaters   
and a well-oiled engine purrs at the center of good feeling.   
So take your misery down a notch in aches and pains and   
             little diseases,
in years of photo albums, in journals of dreams interrupted   
             by mornings,
in furniture you built yourself, in copies and imitations,
in scale-model wars and families and the age of fancy automobiles.   
And when once in your life you make the big trip to the original,   
chances are you’ll mainly see your own face in the glass that protects   
everything of which there’s one only in the form of its only maker.

Marvin Bell, “Replica” from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)

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Poet Marvin Bell b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Architecture & Design, Arts & Sciences

 Marvin  Bell


American poet and critic Marvin Bell "is a poet of the family. He writes of his father, his wives, his sons, and himself in a dynamic interaction of love and loss, accomplishment, and fear of alienation. These are subjects that demand maturity and constant evaluation. A complete reading of Bell's canon shows his ability to understand the durability of the human heart. Equally impressive is his accompanying technical . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Architecture & Design, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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