Neons welter, -
dim sparks writhing,
the river lies, without motion,
along its banks the white horses are tied
by beaten ropes, and the streets are packed
with a cadaverous congregation.
A cat staggers
by the cyclamen, dazed and drunken,
the shards of its teeth glisten
in the yellow moonlight.
The prophet is dead.
The kings emerge onto a balcony,
the mist-cords begin to stretch, unchallenged,
chariots creep from the vaults, bearing flags and banners,
damp violas cast rickety tunes, and the vair canopy, -
it reaches, embroidered with dragons and cuckoos.
The bright rags of a virgin
climb from a manhole, - the horses, awoken
with memories of destriers, break
from the riverbank. And she, she
smiles at a slumbering cat, and does not acknowledge
any reason to wake it.
The morning rains
past the garret window.
On the bed, a mass
of fat and silk sprawls
on the blonde.
Far off, against the hillside, the heat
gathers and swirls on the floor
of the amphitheatre. And in the parados, the procession of gold
armour barks anthems of victory, marching with flags
and banners, - vair, bronze, tigerskin, - projecting the gold
face of the trophy. Ragged children
crowd the theatron, crushing the foreign grapes
underfoot, singing and shoving while they chew the meat.
On the orchestra Paris stands,
riven and bleeding, his head upturned, his chin erect, -
she leans against the window.
Wrapped in a frayed gown,
she shivers, behind her,
the commander smirks,
humming his distant tunes,
watching the harlot’s hair fade further.
R.G. Foster © 2013
to the balcony
of the watchtower,
beyond the city walls
dance on the plateau,
stagger from bordellos,
children shiver and stare
at the gallows, and here,
on the balcony,
carving a fresh language
into the railing,
for his smile is consumed by the fog.
‘Repent ye before the sword be unsheathed, while it be yet unstained with blood...’ - Girolamo Savonarola
By the gallows
a gathering of women
sit bent, heads turned upward,
Young men shuffle
about the river,
would come with the torrents.
Not far, old artisans chuckle
at the bright fish dancing
in the boxes.
Children see parents
give cash to a general,
away, and will soon canter back.
The cathedral sits empty, -
the paradise on its windows
blurred in the unhampered sunshine.
R.G. Foster © 2013