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Look On My Works, Ye Rebels, & Rejoice

A Cycle of Imperial Comeuppance

I. Cobblestones

(Age of Jupiter)

I don’t know, but I’ve been told
The streets in Heaven are pav’d with gold.
They wrote that in the Holy Writ
When Caesar’s reign was pav’d with shit,
Mud & blood & bricks & bones.
Now it’s mainly cobblestones.

How hard I wonder, could it be
To conjure up Eternity
Beyond the reach of urban sprawl?
My Heaven hath no streets at all.

* * *

II. True North

(Age of Enlightenment)

How fierce and pestilent it seems,
When captur’d from a satellite-
This rash of incandescent dreams
Upon the fever’d Earth at night!
Old enemies who radiate
With ultraviolet unity
Agree enough to infiltrate
The Heavens with impunity-
For round my light, a little moth
Went straight from his cocoon,
Circulating in a swath
As men once did the Moon,
Mistaking our malignant lamps
For patterns in the sky-
The flighty little tragic tramps
Get lost and wonder why.
At any rate, they see our race
As terribly Titanic-
Lords of Earth & Outer Space,
And when we swat, they panic.
I wish they knew the truth of it,
That we were merely elves,
Kinetic tricksters tightly-knit
In orbit round our selves.
With peace like that, who needs a war?
All nations are imperial,
The city lights a mildew spore,
Fluorescently bacterial.

He’d ask me where Polaris went
(And if I might remark)
I’d say we flood the Firmament
Because we fear the Dark.

* * *

III. In God We Trust

(Age of Pisces)

The little plane let out a groan
And scamper’d like a skipping-stone
Across the grim Alaskan lake
Where businessmen had come to take
A tall, majestic rutting moose-
Until they met a wayward goose
Who blew a kiss into the prop
And brought them to a grinding stop.
The pilot didn’t stand a chance-
His client, though, by happenstance
Surviv’d- and like a seal pup,
He fought the water, reaching up
Towards a vague, familiar light.
He muster’d all his manly might
To push his body on to breach-
And like a slug, he took the beach.
Pathetic, for a millionaire
To grope & flop & gag & swear
While Arctic breezes blew forlorn-
“Good Lord,” he said, “I’ve been reborn!”
Around him ragged ravens croaking,
Flocking, squawking, mocking, joking,
Filter’d through the tops of trees
And watch’d him tremble on his knees,
And snicker’d as he labor’d on;
Twas rather like that fateful dawn
Of Genesis- that sacred quest
Of one great fish who fill’d her chest
With visions of a new frontier
And spawned us all, that pioneer
Of life unshackl’d by the sea-
Miraculous! Potentially.
His brain, he felt, was in a vice-
His blood was blue & cold as ice,
And so he could not find his way
Through lowly clumps of moss & clay;
The bramble-briars cut his face-
He fumbl’d forth in senseless grace,
When in his hunting vest he found
His wallet, wrapp’d in plastic, bound,
With true salvation standing by:
A hundred dollars, tinder-dry!
And so he pull’d his roll apart
In sacrifice to warm his heart-
But just before he struck his flint,
He read the motto of our mint:
In God We Trust, a simple verse
To give him hope & make the curse
Of hypothermia relent-
Despite his lacking of a tent.
Around him, still, the ravens sat
And watch’d him shiver through his fat-
“Ravenous,” he thought, were they
Who chuckl’d at him, human prey.
If only they had known his name,
Known the chair from whence he came,
Known the company he’d ruled,
They’d earn a place among the fool’d.
He hated them, the devil-birds,
And tried to speak the magic words:
He vomited a Christian prayer,
And cross’d his heart, the millionaire.
If God had sav’d him in the lake,
Why not on land, for Heaven’s sake?
The odds were clearly on his side.
He clutch’d his money & he cried.
He couldn’t bear to see it burn’d.
A penny saved, a penny earn’d.
Still, he fear’d of being dead.
He tried to burn a rock instead.
He tried to burn a coffee can.
They say he died a wealthy man.

* * *

IV. Atlantis Revisited

(Age of Aquarius)

I dreamt of something lovely
In a monumental way-
Twas something like a temple
Underneath a brackish bay,
Where alabaster pillars
Loom’d about a batter’d reef,
With strange, exotic figures
In precision-carv’d relief.

You’d think it was Atlantis
By the architecture’s look,
For barnacles encrusted
Ev’ry crevice, crack & crook-
But lo, it was a vision:
Mother Nature would arrange
For bottom-feeding slugs to eat
The New York Stock Exchange!

L’Envoi

And what have the Romans done for us?
“They built the roads & gave us bread!”
Indeed they have, while Caesar Gus
Hath lin’d our aqueducts with lead.


J.B. Turnstone

Is a gardener, shepherd, hunter-gatherer, scryier, Enochian caller, exorcist, and UFO enthusiast living in Occupied Dakota Territory, Buffalo Ridge, South Dakota

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