Year of the Labyrinth

It was October and the tourists who barricaded the Venetian Port had boarded their ferries and airplanes and like climbing down into a blue door in the sea, were gone. The ghosts returned from the mountain in pairs, holding torches you could see from the square like headlights. The baited lines of the fishermen pulled up fenders and bicycles with the wheels still spinning. I go for a walk underneath the still-working streetlight on Odos Lithos. It is contagious as language, this repeating city, where the dripping of the octopus limb on the table, the swallowed coin of the child, the fallen apple quickened to static in the whirred room of the wasp return to their originals. Had it not always been there, translated in our sleep, I would not know which came first: the labyrinth or the entrails of the lamb.


Brian Sneeden is the author of the poetry collection Last City (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2018). A 2018 PEN/Heim recipient, his poems and translations have appeared in AsymptoteBeloit Poetry JournalHarvard ReviewTriQuarterlyPrairie SchoonerVirginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and translations of his poems have been published in international magazines in Greek, Italian, Albanian, and Serbian. His translation of Phoebe Giannisi’s poetry collection, Homerica (World Poetry Books, 2017) was selected by Anne Carson as a favorite book of 2017 in The Paris Review. Brian received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship in creative writing and served as poetry editor for Meridian. He is the senior editor of New Poetry in Translation.

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