Published on Academy of American Poets (

In Our Late Empire, Love

drops from upper air,
                                         like rain,
clinging brightly
                                 to the fresh-cut hair
of children
                          and the infantry:
all hail
                 the clicking heel, all will
                 the shrinking light
with grains
                      of wedding rice, of salt,
of sands as fit
                              a last brassy parade:
the marching band
                                      will soften
with its growing-distant
the oscillating hand
                                        will stop
its waving
                     soon enough, soon
                   here now, the motorcade
                gaily through the citizens’
                       and the children’s eyes
bronze faintly
                             with the glint
of far-off fireworks,
                                    or firebombs,
or falling evening stars.


Copyright © 2014 by Malachi Black. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“‘In Our Late Empire, Love’ emerged from a curious sense of living in the political equivalent of Keats’s ‘posthumous existence’—a post-apex, late-imperial America—and I became interested in the idea of a domestic analogue to the ‘letter from the field.’  Recent events at home and abroad were of influence as well.”
Malachi Black


Malachi Black

Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014).

Date Published: 2014-10-29

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