Michael Homolka


Michael Homolka is the author of Antiquity, winner the 2015 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry from Sarabande Books. His poems have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Boulevard, Antioch Review, Agni, and Poetry Daily. A graduate of Bennington College’s MFA program, he currently teaches low-income high school students in New York City.


Rhapsody with Impasse

My father visits in August
We speak for a moment
at the door then wander the lanes
toward the museum
On the second floor
we hang back by a glass case
with George IV’s breeches
massive enough to fit us
both inside a few times over
The Pavilion lawns
flare in the cold
the cockle shell dome
the low stakes seaside waning
like an empty auditorium
The day of my college graduation
my father and I went
for a walk around campus
in search of things to say
Same thing most of L.A.
when I’d notice other fathers
having lunch with their sons
fathers on cell phones
fathers in sun glasses
fathers in town for a day
We eat chicken korma
at a place I’d wanted
to show him and he asks
if I still follow the Dodgers
It’s tough out here
I say Well maybe we’ll go
to a game when you’re home

Soon we ascend the back roads
lined with stone walls
reach the edge of the hill
by the trains and look out
at that Old Masterish
perambulance of roofs
late afternoon already
casting its weird glow
over the reddish bricks
and aging aqueduct
where nothing lies
waiting to catch us

One of the most difficult and transformative periods of my life was the ninth-month block of time during which I lived in England and studied at the University of Sussex. I went for long walks every day out past St. Nicholas Church (built in 1086) and along the ocean which was always gray. Several people form the father figure amalgam in this poem. I had a few visitors while abroad, but spent most of my time reckoning with the truth behind what an English gentleman said to me once about graduate study: ‘You have to be good with your own company.’