Strains ride on billowed
Winds, traveling from somewhere
In time to this place
Like a dream slipped through
Narrow straits, like the sand that
Slips the hourglass
To rouse heavy lids
And to crank the mind awake
From memories locked
Humiliation and then bodily destruction:
The fire burning the bones, igniting
The marrow and crackling merrily,
Smacking its lips, perhaps to the savor
Of the melting flesh, or perhaps thinking
Of the lions enjoying their own flesh
Or the carrion birds and the scavenger
Dogs hunting for a foot poking from
Scant covering of dirt, or a hand
Grasping for the warmth of the sun
That has already descended past the
Hills around the city, sleeping as
Deep as the sorrow of the widow
And orphan, quietly huddled under
The sun beams upon the forgetful memory
Of an indolent island, lost, facing a warm sea,
The days as long and languid as the years
Stretched out. And boys play among the glossed wood
Plantations, aromatic of sugar, bananas, spice, sweat,
And human fear that wafts and billows loose shirt tails,
White as sheets or even sails, rocking tales dreaming over time
And waves to a boy who sits in a preternaturally quiet study,
Idly tracing the embossed figures fighting and dancing
Fan blades parcel apocalyptic light
Within a band, floating in the dark,
Sending sonorous waves of minced night
In a rapid, rhythmic electronic glower-
A buzzing sound sizzling solipsistic-
Metronomic, monolithic, monotone.
She’s solitary, party of one-
Clipped, tight-lipped tongue.
Tile and steel, stainless reflection
Of the gulfing glass chasm reaching to caress
Compressed shoulders that shudder, breathing.
This is the smoky dark of fervid alms and seedy recitations: hats are low
slung frames that shade the barley, that shake the quivering jowls
of stubbed shadows [cigarettes dance in bouncing constellations
that flash moons in the tobacco haze] – and pastoral earth
hugs the ocean against a grey sky and shepherds keep watch
from the hills [they look to the light of the sun frozen in its ascent,
Begin at the intersection of all ways,
the crux of the world – all partings
are merely the divergence of a cross.
Roads lead on to roads or, not taken,
lead on to roads not withheld anyway,
and one may choose to go, crossing
Marie held him tenderly, sweat dripping off her nose, shuddering, sharing his breath.
The French have a phrase, la petite mort. It means “the little death.” People use it to describe an orgasm.
He looked up at her, unfocused, shock written on his features. She was smiling beatifically, her eyes poring forth into his, glimmering his soul at the bottom of a pool, fading fast, deeper and deeper.
The Empire turned in on herself when winter came early — turned to huddle over her hearth and tend the coals, to pull the thin blanket of providence tighter about her shriveling form. If the Empire were a lady, then surely these far-flung provinces were her extremities. The frostbite was evident, even as the gloves were pulled on.
The Saint was like a jewel in the mud, like a shaft of sun cutting through sheets of rain, like a dab of flower in a field of weeds, like a shiny copper bit in a turd. He was like a fair number of other poorly conceived similes, but Farred wasn’t a bard and the scene unfolding in front of him wasn’t worthy of song.
There is life and death, beginning and end, salvation and destruction, and they can all, on occasion, align and blur on the whim of chance. The two greatest people in history never met, but they did, on such a whim, unwittingly share in existence, as he gasped and wheezed in his final hour and she wailed and cried out in her first. Though it cannot be disputed that one saved the world and that the other destroyed it, it is far from clear who played which role.