Fragments of a Myth: Modern Poems on Ancient Themes

by Charles Muñoz


Medical Records

One night there was a flood
in the hospital basement
where everybody's records were stowed.
Water lifted those records
off the lowest shelf, floated them upward.

Water took the folders, flopped
them open, mixed the papers.
Ink swirled in the water, diluting
names, dates, diseases and disorders,
smudging outcomes; all in darkness
in the basement of the hospital.
Water snickered back to the sewer,
and the records lay scattered
on the puddled floor.

Under the one unshaded bulb
three clerks chatted,
their shoes damp, their voices
echoing from the cinderblock walls,
judging those records, peeling
papers apart, passing wet papers back and forth:
interpreting smudged ink.

They could hear water trickling, hear scurry-foot
of rats in the passage, mumble of the generator,
and they could hear the sigh
of a patient far upstairs, a sigh brought
down to them by a channel in the dark wall.



This introspective book offers glimpses into the essence of being, first dissecting the myth we inherit when we are born into this "toady, warty world" and then integrating those fragments of existence into a satisfying whole. Divided into six chapters ("News from the Family Bible," "Air," "Earth," "Fire," "Water," and "Frogs, Clowns, and Old Friends"), the poems flow around the basic "elements" of our lives, bringing clarity, humor, and continuity to the seemingly incongruous patterns we face each day.


Charles Muñoz's poetry brings us that old, lost, grainy news we so much need but often tend to forget or overlook news from the caves of the imagination. His poems put us where unborn people watch sex and the stock market, birth and dying. Muñoz's words remind us how fascinating the world is, even in its terror and especially in its delights. Here is a bold poetry, one that asks us to live in this world amused and alive, alert and inquiring, valiant and compassionate.
— Christopher Bursk, author of Cell Count


Charles Muñoz has a voice like no one else comic and gothic, witty and gothic, scientific and gothic, and filled with longing for life.
— Lynn Levin, author of A Few Questions About Paradise