the long the winter sky
Elagabalus (born Varius Avitus Bassianus), the sexually ambiguous ancestral head of a Syrian sun cult, ruled from 218–222.
These poems present a re-appropriation of Elagabalus's life and the text into which that life has been subsumed. Earnest Cary's translation of Cassius Dio's Roman History and Anthony Birley's translation of Suetonius's Lives of the Later Caesars provided material for many of these poems. The facts of Elagabalus's reign are unclear. Roman historians largely falsified materials as part of a propaganda campaign. Time and mendacity create a kind of material silence, like spaces before and after a question: a convex or diabolical quiet.
Philip Sorenson lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. His creative work has most recently appeared at Action, Yes; elimae; and Strange Machine. He just co-wrote a pedagogical essay, "Rats in Labyrinths: Constraint and Freedom in the Creative Writing Classroom," about employing Oulipian techniques in the teaching of writing. He teaches Composition and Literature at Loyola, Northeastern Illinois, and Roosevelt Universities.