It burns up all the grass too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence.
— Pliny the Elder, “Natural History”
On a blood- or honey-colored moon at midnight & no 60-watt abuzz. With
Sirius ascendant. From a dunghill’s punk egg hatched
By toad or serpent. From cold gland & pillaged crib, from ruined sluice,
Bible comics & potshots at swallows. From the Ring of Fire, the Zipper,
The Nighthawk with her victims taloned upside down. From pistis to gnosis
To the midway where they draw a bead on cardboard sheikhs. From no harvest.
From no temperate father. From years borne down tainted water
& all we failed to mark in frequencies cranked up, from
How laughing we cast our own forfeit. O well —
It’s cinch your boots up now, it’s shoulder to the wheel, it’s soldier on
To lay coins on the fang marks & stand already spent,
Condemned for what we wrongly thought exhaustion.
Comes now the bright arrival, comes the pageant rain of ashes:
The seal torn & tablets fixed but still impossible to read.