Our unknown gods are always here with us
investing shadows on the street with shape,
the cracks in the horizon with their shine,
our speech with their songs beyond mortal hearing.

We step into their darkness, our sure step
dissolving as we walk. This is the underlife,
the Lethe running straight through every choice.
We’re being broken as we walk, each hour

not ours but theirs, each step their wish foretold.
Today is glorious. My face sunshine,
its features some known god’s lineaments.
I am Jove, heroes I have tried to be

in imitation of epics I’ve read.
Write it all down, the unknowns keep repeating,
the gods so certain of its perishing,
gods assured of immortality,

jealous, enraged that they are one of us
only by trickery. And shadowless.



Peter Cooley has published poems in recent issues of Bennington Review, Notre Dame Review, Colorado Review, and other journals. Carnegie Mellon will be publishing his tenth book, World Without Finishing, in February 2018. He teaches at Tulane University.