Purity The legions pause in their advance on Rome. They doff their armor, take up rakes and staffs, aid widows in spring planting, lead flocks home, and, gentle to a man, commit no gaffes as such invading armies often do. Meantime, in Rome, the squabbling factions meet, break bread, share wine, and coax the stubborn few toward acts more temperate and speech discreet. Though Horace smiles, poor Juvenal despairs, whose satires of the harsher sort require the ruthless to be ruthless and affairs of state and taste be wallows in the mire. With vulgar peace comes ruin, as with strife, for someone’s pure, imaginary life.
Less Is More Still less is so much more, and so on, till we have to say that nothing’s everything, then build accordingly, and send our bill for services to someone simmering away to vapor, which, attenuating, breaks down into less than mist, which none the less fills up the universe, as string arrangements fill a darkened hall with sun. One spoon of tea with lime and crumbs once spun its taster into ecstasy: a case in point. The next two spoons felt overdone. With empty spoon, or no spoon, one could trace the constellations, tell their stories true to life, and see them fade in depthless blue.
The Palms Our caravan makes progress toward the palms and fountain. Look: the moon is new, which is to say, not there. The stars rejoice. It calms, to see them shine so brightly, distances between them deeper than a well. Look back: the breeze already smoothed our tracks away. Soon we’ll be gone, the brigands who would sack us sadly disappointed, who would slay us made ridiculous. The crescent moon shall reappear, and wax to full, and wane again to absence. Absence has its noon, the same as any day, come loss or gain. Scratch out the fire. A sleep will do us good. The path ahead has vanished, as it should.
Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and co-editor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. Dan’s poetry has appeared previously in Grand Little Things and in Able Muse, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Think, and many other magazines. A selection of his poems titled The Mirror Test will be published by MadHat Press in 2022. Dan also has another book on the way. A Playbill for Sunset will be issued on July 14 by Ice Cube Press.