DaguerreoTyped #18: Ekphrastic Response by R. J. Keeler

R. J. Keeler responds to our monthly historical photo prompt with the poem “Trade (Among the Equilibrists).”


“Trade (Among the Equilibrists)”

—For John Crowe Ransom

Open systems promote gross imbalance;
promote tariffs, barriers, costs, inequities;
but sadly, blossom into prolific existence.

Closed systems, those rare models of efficiency,
forge chains within chains, forge conservations
between basic parts of self — no profligacy.

Trade for countertrade, action for reaction,
when all is cleared away, the market
captures all extant desires. Encompassing vision

observes all that will be at parity. A deficit
marked down at Jenny’s birth zeros a cycle
begun at the quiet death of a tired, old, unfit

West Indian fisherman last year. Treacle
for a white male system’s limited, non-
connected, hierarchical view — recycle

old polemics, affirm instead striking notions:
all that is given, is given for grasp, for mastery;
our hearts, lyric reeds in stormy, innate oceans.

R. J. KEELER was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, then lived in the jungles of Colombia until age twelve. He attained a BS in Mathematics, an MS in Computer Science, an MBA, and a Poetry Certificate. He was Submarine School Honorman, “SS” (Submarine Service) qualified, and awarded the Vietnam Service Medal.

Each month, Alternating Current Press presents an ekphrastic challenge for writers and lovers of history: We feature a different public domain historical photograph or illustration, and ask writers to respond to it. There is no wrong answer, and no set style guidelines. Poetry, prose, hybrid, fiction or non, experimental — Anything goes that has a history bent. The best responses will be published on The Coil two months after each challenge. Check out our homepage for your chance to participate in the current DaguerreoTyped historical ekphrastic challenge, and read all of the past archives here.