Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

The Little Red Wagon



Three poems 



The Little Red Wagon


hoc est corpus meum 

so much depends

a red wheel

      – William Carlos Williams


My soul’s own Radio Flyer sags with age,

   chipped and patched, it’s carried me along

   from year to year across the bumpy stage

of earth’s uncertain highways, distance wrung

   from wheels of no Merkabah chariot,

   no desert tabernacle, earthly bung

of heaven’s influenza, no tidal knot

   of singularity, no laddered rise

   of Jacob’s dream, vehicular gavotte,

St Francis’ Brother Ass[1] in steel devise.

   Just a means of getting here to there?

   Of negotiating time’s and space’s lie

that spreads a treacherous floor, so hard to square

   with all that springs from deeply delved desire?

   The steep descent from etheric repair

to realised intention trips the wire

   of fortune’s booby traps laid cunningly

   beneath the enfilade of stellar fire,

arrayed athwart our paths, necessity

   made visible in zodiac display –

   marquee emblazoned over tangled destinies.

But my red carriage rolls its trundling way

   beneath the glare of that auroral show,

   its flakes of rust conceding time’s betray,

the toll imposed on Adam’s clay in slow

   extraction of deep veins of anthracite

   laid down when Death was young – his undertow

had barely just begun its work on site,

   to grind the gears and squeal their tuneless whine,

   to draw the shades that linger past this light.

However worse for wear, this wagon’s mine.

   So much depends upon our fates conjoined,

   as we rattle down this winding serpentine.



[1] St Francis of Assisi referred to his own body as ‘Brother Ass’, an affectionate acknowledgement of its slow, sturdy and stubborn utility to the spirit’s higher agenda.



Child of Adam

Dante in Low-Earth Orbit


I was born in free-fall. Liberty

subsisted in my power to consume

the weightless, substanceless commodities

that followed like a cloud, a glittering spume,

ejecta of my exit through the gates

that closed on paradise once I’d been flung

to tumble down the slopes of times and fates

and off true being’s edge, where I’ve since hung,

head cauled by this debris, an awkward pall

of orbital particulates that obscure

my view of purgatory’s mountain wall,

where I must find some purchase for my cure.

   A common ill: mortality’s attaint

   and hollow cheeks – consumption’s long complaint.



Post Mortem


Once I have sped, how shall I then express

   my changed condition, how find words to tell

   what scenes accommodate my soul’s recess?

Old words, congealed of air and blood that wells,

   might simply settle sodden to the floor,

   too weighted still with clay and Adam’s fells

to rap a table or stir a creaking door.

   All clocks disarmed, what aspect, mood or tense

   could flick my verbs with morphologic spoor

once I have stowed my metamorphic tents

   and stepped unveiled beneath the heavens’ crease,

   as sky breaks blue and morning dews condense,


unheralded in drops on grass and fleece

to lens in small the rising sun’s release?




Robert DiNapoli is a medievalist, poet and translator whose latest book of poems, The Gnostic Hotel, was published by Littlefox Press in 2021.


Topic tags: Robert DiNapoli, poetry



submit a comment

Existing comments

Highly accomplished, multi-valent and elegant writing Robert - even when addressing the apparently mundane, as in "The Little Red Wagon".

John Kelly | 14 February 2023  
Show Responses

Thanks very much, John. I'm glad you found it worth your time. 'The Little Red Wagon' just about wrote itself once I got the image straight in my head. As for 'the apparently mundane' . . . the Williams poem just about says it all, doesn't it?

Robert DiNapoli | 15 February 2023  

Similar Articles

In conversation with Helen Garner

  • Paul Mitchell
  • 17 February 2023

Arguably Australia’s most celebrated living author, Helen Garner has built a reputation as a fearless and unapologetic writer whose work has remained fresh and relevant for over 45 years. We sat down with Helen to explore the challenges of confessional non-fiction, her fondness for church, and her commitment to unsparing self-analysis. 


Conjurer of the Infinite: Memories of Mama

  • Binoy Kampmark
  • 15 February 2023

Mama was a master of the kitchen, revered for her culinary magic and domestic miracles. Her cooking was an unsurpassed conjurer of traditional Bosnian pita, a sublime miracle that drew the infinite from the minimal. Mama's death left a void of ignorance, indifference, and inability that hovered over the village, mourning the loss of an unassailable figure.