Bruce Harris

Rooms in an Empty Palace

Shrouded chairs and dirt-dim windows

something vaguely scurrying

across a vast imperial carpet

defecating on the way

The finery in the wardrobes

is gnawed in threads and bloodied

when King Charles’ head hit the basket

no gown remained unsoiled

The silver vanished long ago

when the Bastille boys broke in

opening and closing mouths

at a grandeur unconceived.

The battlements are in straggled white

no defence against the pigeons

Boney in an island prison

invincibility is lost

The wind wafts through empty rafters

on naked winter days

like the wails of Tsars and Shahs

in places newly cold

Dark black basement bottles

lie inert in countless thousands

piled above the unseen obscene

rotting Hitlers, putrid Stalins

Lavish wall high tapestries

lately done in vivid red

are crumbling like a certain wall

when the axes did their work

and now the Arabian sofas

gilt edged and velvet lined

are buckling at their nibbled legs

too torn to keep their stuffing

They’ve all been in, one time or other,

the god men and their mysteries

and when travellers break in finally

they find there’s no one there

Bruce Harris © 2011