Thursday, May 3, 2018

The History of Western Civilization

Red poppies – “you’re in my sun, Diogenes” –
The Attic Aristocrats still cavil – Peripatos in stone –
Gods and man one and the same are buzzing flies in grass –
The shade of the Judas tree at some halfway spot
Between what is and what is not – the checkerboard stage
Where orators played to two audiences, the people in the seats
And the Gods in the temples above – bamboo claps at
Applause lines provided by the sea, but the whispered
Words no longer are clarified – still, a graffiti eye
Stares up at the columns – why were we – O cruel Gods –
Forsaken? The grasses stand erect, obeying the syllables
That flow like water through stones glowing with
Embodiment, placed just so, precarious yet prostrate
In offering – moths float and dogs laugh in consummate
Distances – 
                      From our Civilization to the Gods
Is 30 feet of stairs – but it seems insurmountable –
The first columns stand oblivious to us – the threat of
Destruction we represent – but time has worked its wonders –
The perfection of decline – the scrolls are bit out, gouged,
Browned, the ceiling hollowed out to let in the blue – calling
What is not yet deceased, or born – what we’d call ruined –
Figures unrecognizable, as if what's there was only ever
Decoration – to be cataloged and piled – harmonizing columns –
For humans who build labyrinths – as if epiphanies can be
Sustained – but whose epiphany, and why does order rise
To the top? The cedars at the top shriek as if they know
And need to tell – forever disclosing next to the forever
Undisclosed.
                         I sit on the rock, like the poets before me,
Contemplating the poetry bloodstream of our history –
Only the most pure could make this trek – it is undisturbed –
The discourse that occurred here – spare and precise instruction,
No possible variation in response.
                                                                Over at the Greek flag,
However, the sky is the limit on what can be said now,
Any pronouncement can be unpronounced later – it’s OK
To scream or laugh or cry – the wind will help us forget it,
So when we revisit the same tremulous branch, it will bend
With ease, and we will gallivant as if it never will end –
For indeed it doesn’t.
                                        Didn’t that golden mean equation lead
Only to a library of unsolved explanations? So much blahblahblah
To Athena’s owl, who sees the black cat scamper across the rubble,
Like no human can, suddenly to disappear like the Gods
In the broken teeth of pediment – only the pious Carytids,
Always staring away, see.
                                              The marble that shines from within
Is the ground we walk on – offerings made from far away seem
Clearest in conception; when we get up close, knees weaken,
Words fail, the weight of all we’ve been told to be real lightens
As it deepens – the stones that guided the way through blind youth
Are revealed to be gems after all, more real for being pragmatized
As an ideal, like the dry beds we walk through where there might
Have once been water – a sublime that never needed to be captured –
The structure was built to be imagined into existence – the strongest
Foundation, the lightest air – in the valley, diamonds shine from roofs,
Another worship available from the immortals – art is what is
Crowned in acanthus leaves: the meaning of the Gods.

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