The Phoenicians were good at trenches. A channel
with steep sides often broke, they saw, so
they knew to widen out near the lip.
If they were digging waterways, about twice as wide
as volume demanded was optimal
With bridges, not so much. Built a couple crossing
a strait, one made of flax, and the other,
papyrus. That is history. A paper bridge
didn’t hold, though, after a storm, doesn’t. That
is engineering. The final chariot
is the chariot befitting the king, carted right up
to overlook what he had arranged
to surpass. Wouldn’t. That’s policy.
A people far from sovereign.
Good at trenches, bad at bridges.
On the job after the ransack and pillage
of another people. Only in Arizona and only now
is Phoenician a demonym. I mean, what I heard is
there was no Phoenix home
to Phoenicians destroying Greece
for Persia. Only a story of a bird upstart
where another bird burned. Demonym has its own
Wikipedia page. The word is
twenty-two years old. Imagine your own
twenty-two year old [demonym here] here:
curly hair, lashes, headphones if you like.
Tell him, if you like, learning where he’s from,
what he is. Now imagine
learning where he’s from, being what you are,
sending him back. That is
Copyright © 2014 by Brian Blanchfield. Originally published in A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014). Used with the permission of the poet.