A Modern Epic Poem
By Marcus Colasurdo and G.H. Mosson
At my first reading of Heart X-rays, I was inclined to question its claim to “Epic” status and, in fact, to question if there is enough connection between its various passages to follow a story which is the usual mark of the ancient epics such as The Iliad or Beowulf. Even many of the more modern epics – Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur, or G. K. Chesterton’s The Ballad of White Horse – depended on a clear narrative line, a presentation of history or myth with heroic characters facing great challenges. But then I considered other less conventional modern epics – Hart Crane’s The Bridge, Pound’s Cantos, and William Carlos Williams Patterson – and decided to take a closer look at Heart X-rays. And if we think of the division of modern epics into separate poems, cantos or numbered sections then this small book edges closer to fulfilling its title.
Now I’m not going to claim that this poem is on the same level as the classics but it does have a lot to offer in terms of commentary on our modern, narcissistic, media-driven way of life, though this is not an obviously political treatise. It is also a story of one person’s attempt to make a positive change in the world through the creation of places for hungry people to find nourishment. And the collaborative aspects of the book are often visible in the similar but distinct voices making observations on urban life, homelessness, shocked communities reeling after the commission of blatant hate crimes, and hunger.
And there is some fine poetry in these pages.
Who wedged the universe into an alphabet
within a computer screen? Scroll through
all the way. My homeless heart cannot fit
into any safe deposit box. I just left town.
Behind your tears,
The past, behind your