The youthful maiden
toying with the threaded tapestry
of fate with her two sisters
about her, behooved the hero
to take up title and sword.
She said to win himself a place at the table —
the head of the table —
where he could recount the glorious
battle that leads to greatest honor.
“For what is worth the price of life,”
she asked with her palm, cool
against his sunburned cheek,
“If not to be gambled with?”
Fool that he was,
he thought himself in love,
Proud of the cane between his fingers
The starched uniform holding in a stiff embrace
By those many friends, forever young.
A slave passing by the agora sees the marble face of the dead warrior he once rode with to battle. His breath catches and shakes. His knees tremble at its youthfulness and thoughtful stare, at the lips he once coveted and dared to press against one evening, soon after conquest had sparked a fire that ran its voracious course between them.
He turns away, ashamed at the calluses on his ankles where the chains cut him for months before he yielded. But when he turns again, heart aching, he finds the statue no longer wears the visage of his beloved. And he, who for a moment, was a man anew, returns defeated to servitude.
A boy embraces the keys of a piano
And runs his fingers where another once played.
If he sits still, the instrument warms.
If he closes his eyes, he can smell tobacco.
Soon, he hears the full-bodied laugh
Which trembles through him like brontide
And sweeps him
To where his father might be.
If you are not mine
Then do not be his
Or I shall tear asunder
That chain which binds you.
He who speaks
In forked tongue
Foul and black —
If only I could have
Alas, in lieu
Of an impotent kiss
There is only:
The rusted red wagon
Anchored by granddad on the porch
Once roamed the seas
With little boys battling Midway
And in royal gold filigree
Pulled Ms. Queen the border collie
On bumpy London cobblestones
It cradled the sod for mom’s petunias
And spilled with cloying sweetness —
A childhood Garden of Babylon.
The clouds gather overhead
To duel with the noon sun.
A clash, a skirmish
The fall of fox rain.
Fierce intentions crystallize
With actions hybridize
Movements opposite totalize
Wars consume and monopolize
Slice of heaven toppled and eulogized
History resurrected and demonized
Peace, a moment, realized
A red river rises to the East
And the conch call echoes through the mountains
The men sharpen their axes and tighten their bows
The women salt meat and wrap flour cakes
In the dawn, the plateau is empty of tents
In the sky, a lone falcon reels
Shrieking mournfully over the grass