Tower of Skulls
When I think of Timur the Lame
and his Mongol horde descending on
the Hindu Kush, the hack and slash
of swords, the mortar mixed and poured,
the severed heads--some smashed, others
almost smiling--placed between bricks
by skilled and unprotesting masons,
I conclude that Gandhiji
was wrong, that the human soul
is not a refuge for charity.
I believe then the Great Chronicle
of 1240, which judged the average Joe
“brutal and beastly, rather more
a monster than the progeny of God.”
Yet just at the moment when
my own skull seems to be untethering,
there comes the memory of crabapples
falling last October: my cracked suburban
sidewalk covered, as though the world
were so bounteous it couldn’t help
but give and give and give.
Tar (Oulu, Finland)
Dazed, the old heroes
of capitalism stand on the sandy shores
of the nineteenth-century. Heart-shaped
faces staring out at the rocky islands
dotting their little sea. Reveries
of misalliances, awkward truths transfixed.
Sailing ships. Smouldering, turf-covered pits.
Barrels and barrels of this shit—all vanishing
under the weight of market logic, etcetera.
Maybe Time is nothing more
than what’s left when dry earth is scorched;
and everything old men touch now, everything
they’ll ever touch, is sticky, hot and black.