Pantheon and Other Poems
Drawing on myth, literature, and the Bible, Arnold Asrelsky's poems create surprising and illuminating connections between quotidian events and larger themes. In the stealing of a comforter, he sees the rupture of the social contract. In a father's pontificating at the dinner table, he hears the voice of the enthroned Zeus. In the works of a still life painter, he sees a secular way of celebrating the created world.
His poems range from the struggle for New York City's taxis to the eventual heat-death of the universe. His often witty language underscores the comedy inherent in man's longing for transcendence, but it is also suffused with sadness at the inevitable failure of such desires. Many of his poems reflect his love of Chinese poetry and his fascination with the thought of Zen and Daoism.
An important influence on the poet's development was his early discovery of Manhattan as a playground. Its streets introduced him to the world's culinary delights in Chinatown and Little Italy, among the Armenian restaurants of Murray Hill and the Greek restaurants of Times Square. The coffee shops of Greenwich Village were his debating halls where he and the other would-be intellectuals argued passionately and endlessly among the cups and croissants.