Byzantium

Standard

Bystanders look

to the lumbering mass,

leaving long shadows

across their paths.

Marching at glacial pace

it shuffles in place,

too dense to move much.

Stained glass windows

at the ground floor

obscure a well-appointed lobby,

unoccupied.

The designers weren’t that clever,

everyone knows all the decisions

are made in the basement,

where there’s insulation.

Everything outside the tower

is a blind-spot to the operators

while they pull the levers

and argue amongst themselves.

The decaying superstructure,

rarely course-corrects –

it’s well-suited to clashing

with other titans of its kind,

and much better at picking on others

smaller than it’s size,

and little else.

An illusion of imposing strength,

a well-placed stone

is all it would take to

topple the colossus.

We already live in the ruins,

might as well act like it.


Defenestration

Standard

This has gotten out of hand.

It’s not the way,

I would’ve planned,

to make an exit. 

Angry crowds coalescing,

twelve stories below

expressing discontent.

Maybe 

I’ll catch an updraft

and glide away.

Maybe I’ll land

on all fours, catlike.

But they know my name,

they’ll give chase

with pitchforks and pikes.

This is getting out of hand.

Maybe they’ll leave the back door

unlocked for me,

or I’ll end up in the moat.

I sure hope so.

It’s my turn already?

This is getting out of hand,

I don’t know where I’ll land,

this might get a little

uncomfortable.

Hanging Gardens

Standard

Please,

please stay.

I’ll do

whatever it takes.

You’ve come a long way,

and I know it’s not ideal —

It’s a huge adjustment

and you miss home so much.

If it helps,

I’ll bring the oasis

to our backyard,

to take your mind

off the dry heat.

No more mirages,

no more marauders —

only figs and pomegranates

in the shade.

Trickles of spring water,

date palms,

verdant vines

that wind and climb

up the bricks.

Brisk breezes

and reliefs along the walls

that tell our story,

it’s all for you.

This isn’t home to you,

not yet,

I get that.

Please,

please stay,

I’ll make it worth your while.

———————————-

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Still Life

Standard

Arranged meticulously,

posed purposefully,

captured faithfully —

life not as it happened,

but a skillful composition.

Sliced pomegranate,

with a few loose jewels nearby,

a vase full of poppies,

wine glasses half full,

a fresh loaf of bread

a steak knife flanking

an empty plate.

We stand on the outside

looking in,

a window to a moment,

forever undisturbed —

not life as it once was,

just an arrangement.

Take this with you,

only in memory,

no flash photography.

Pig Iron

Standard

I will serve you well

but please be patient with me,

take great care because I’m brittle.

Have your finest blacksmith

forge me with precision, fold and fold

until I hold an edge that slices through armor

Like a scythe through long grass,

I am purpose-built.

Then have craftsmen

pour their hearts out

ornamenting, doting on and refining me

so that I’m form meets function.

I’m impure, but that’s not to say

that I’m not worth it.

The discipline it took to make me pales in comparison

to what it takes to wield me.

Keep me polished, oiled and sharpened.

Hold me tight,

and swing lightly,

I will do the rest.

When you sleep,

keep me on the wall,

so no harm comes to me.

If you bring me with you,

young samurai,

keep me sheathed

unless I’m absolutely needed,

so I can’t harm a soul.

Keep me safe,

and I’ll do the same.

I’m a little rough around the edges,

but if you’re looking for a fine sword,

I will serve you well.

Paper Tiger/Straw Dog

Standard

Paper tigers are

saber rattlers,

neighbor tattlers,

favored whiners and

major prattlers that

savor decline,

yet cannot fight.

To do away

with a roaring beast

only to find a

fragile feline

in its place

should not be surprising.

A splash of cold water

shows their true form,

and they never really recover

after that.

Sometimes stripes are earned,

sometimes they are merely projected.

Straw dogs are routinely discarded,

after their special day,

not because they deserve this,

but because this is their purpose.

Dressed to the nines,

blessed and

lest we forget

left in the street

once their job is complete.

No matter how many times,

they are thrown away,

straw dogs return another day,

to be a display,

that cannot stay.

You’d be Surprised

Standard

At the open-air bazaar of ideas hangs

A smog of apocrypha,

So thick,

You could bottle it,

For any one eager and gullible enough,

To buy.

Yet filtering the miasma,

Of misinformation,

For its kernels of truth,

Shows how easy it is,

For certainty to be crowded-out

by lies.

It covers your face,

With thick soot,

The smell lingers

And stains your clothes-

The gasses

will burn your eyes.

But just because the truth is scarce,

Does not mean it’s not worth the trouble,

Of uncovering-

Keep your hazmat suit handy,

And your goggles on.

Prospecting is a hard days work,

For little pay,

But, nevertheless,

You will find it enriching

If you see it through.

Tulip Mania

Standard

You’ve heard of that old saying, right?

“One man’s trash,

Is another man’s,

Economic crash,”

You know?

The humble tulip,

A discovery from the new world,

Became a Dutch sensation,

Overnight.

With this bulb-market,

Came speculation,

Large amounts of liquidity,

And rising valuation,

That sowed a coming disaster.

As quickly as it came,

POP! went the bubble,

Consumers, cultivators,

Merchants, kings and peasants,

All came tumbling down.

Player Piano

Standard

A musician never acts alone,

Unless, of course,

they happen to be a drone.

Pay no attention,

To the fact that,

There is no one in front of the curtain.

Études are meant to showcase one’s skill,

But with the amputation,

Of middlemen,

There is no risk,

No drama,

In such a piece.

Chopin’s Opus 25 Number 11,

“Winter Wind”

Played with ruthless calculation,

Feels like little more,

Than a brisk,

Cakewalk.

Corrosion

Standard

Hello old limestone sculpture,

Of an ancient, armored,

Sword-toting,

Roman soldier-

Meet acid rain.

Your chiseled face,

Buffed away,

Until the once completed visage,

Looks like modeling clay.

Slowly, but surely, we return to square one,

That marvelous, marble base,

Laid bare,

Then swiss-cheesed,

By sizzle drizzle.

Behold the disappearing monument,

Matter cannot be created,

Nor destroyed,

But that’s neither here nor there,

Until we put real effort toward conservation,

Of the curated.