A Bedpan for Icarus?

Red Wolf Journal recently asked writers to create a poem “borrowed” in theme or language from a famous poem. I’m delighted that they chose my poem”Bedpan for Icarus” which was inspired by W.H. Auden’s work “Musée des Beaux Arts“.

You might recognize the opening lines. But the rest of the work is my own take on his theme. Auden’s poem means a lot to me because I kept reciting it in my head as my mother was dying. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that she passed away long before Dancing With The Stars existed. (She would not have been a fan!)

Read the poem here: http://redwolfjournal.com or below:

A Bedpan for Icarus

About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters. How well they understood
its human position, how it takes place
when someone else is just scarfing down a burrito,
or adjusting their earbuds.

When my mother lay dying, her heart skipping beats,
her pulse losing rhythm, the nurses stood in the hallway,
outside her room, chatting normally,
taking bets on “Dancing With the Stars”,
ordering Mexican food for dinner.

Mother could have been Icarus, falling
from the sky, Icarus needing a bedpan.
I shook my fist at the nurses through the hospital curtain.

And yet, I should have known, we all turn away, quite leisurely,
from disaster, just as Breughel drew.
We run our eyes down the screen,
clicking even as the typhoon hits,
the mosque is bombed, the small child drowns in the Rio Grande.
We hear the splash. We gulp and shake our heads, maybe
mutter a prayer. And then, quite calmly, we move on.

Red Wolf Journal also recently accepted another one of my “borrowed” poems. Grounded:Seventh Day” was inspired by Wallace Steven’s famous “Sunday Morning.

You can read the poem in this link: http://Redwolfjournal.com or below:

Grounded: Seventh Day

Complacencies of the sweatpants,
and a late latte, and those really good blood
oranges from Trader Joe’s.
Stretched out on the couch, pecking at the tablet
like a cockatoo, in the holy hush
of NPR, with the news shrunk and week-end withered,
and then, later, after the laundry’s done, a few
hours along the river, barely a job,
the day like wide water
without sound, not even church bells or a call to prayer,
disinterested in sacrifice or sepulcher,
just grounded on the soft moist earth
holding the entire bickering planet in the Light.

Published by

Gabriella Brand

Gabriella Brand is a writer, adventurer, and educational consultant. She can't stop teaching and learning foreign languages. She would like to walk on all the continents (three more to go!). Her husband is extremely patient and her children are, fortunately, all grown up.

6 thoughts on “A Bedpan for Icarus?”

  1. Amazing poems, Gabriella! Thank you for sharing them with us. I don’t seek out poetry very often-it tends to make me sad. But when it comes my way, I am almost always grateful for it. These make me sad in a way that is good for me- reality that I need to be conscious of, even as I long for my next mocha….

    I’m grateful that you have the courage to write these things down. Merci


    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Dear Gabriella,

    I just enjoyed reading both of your poems based on “borrowed” themes or language. I’m needing this day of solitude and quietude, after an overload of 80th birthday celebration and other scheduled events during the past few days.



    > WordPress.com


  3. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Gabriella,Congratulations on having your poem chosen. Although I am not familiar with either original poem, I do like what you have written.Will see you soon now. I leave this Friday, back June 8.Take care,JudyThanks for sending me the poems.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad


  4. Thank you, as always, for sharing your poems with us. Your “borrowed” Auden poem was very meaningful, and led me to read and read about the original ,which I did not know. Wonderful….

    Could we survive if we internalized all the sadness, cruelty, destruction, etc. that takes place daily? So much here to think about and discuss.



  5. Gabriella, this poem is a marvel! Thank you. I’ve always loved that painting, and you have made it so alive in our world today.

    Keep up all your wonderful work!


    On Tue, May 28, 2019 at 10:16 AM Gabriella Brand wrote:

    > Gabriella Brand posted: ” Red Wolf Journal recently asked writers to > create a poem “borrowed” in theme or language from a famous poem. I’m > delighted that they chose my poem”Bedpan for Icarus” which was inspired by > W.H. Auden’s work “Musée des Beaux Arts”. You might recognize ” >


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