Published on Academy of American Poets (


Sisyphus punches in, each morning,
At a mountain he must face all day,
In hell, for eternity, and at night,
Having not reached the summit
Again, he walks down slow, where
The rock rushed by, careful to see,
With new eyes, where it all went
Wrong, again, and then later,
At the bar in town, sits cooling his
Bleeding hands against a whiskey,
On the rocks, and maps new paths,
On a napkin, inside the wet ring
His tumbler made, again and again,
The routes running on to absurd
Lengths, hands shaking, and if it
Wasn’t a map, you might think
It was the history of history
Or parts of a nude in repose,
Patient with death and belonging.


Copyright © 2016 by Aaron Fagan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 8, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Last fall, I attended a Dash Snow retrospective where they screened his film ‘Sisyphus, Sissy Fuss, Silly Puss,’ and it reminded me of a Sisyphus poem I began and then abandoned in 2004. The film sent me to dig it up and try again. The original effort was responding to two lines Camus wrote that have consistently haunted and inspired me: ‘Myths were made for the imagination to put life into them’ and ‘One must imagine Sisyphus happy.’”
—Aaron Fagan


Aaron Fagan

Aaron Fagan is the author of Echo Train (Salt Publishing, 2010). 

Date Published: 2016-09-08

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