-- Morituri te salutamus. Los Angeles Times, 1927 Maybe it's not the city you thought it was. Maybe its flaws, like cracks in freeway pylons, got bigger, caught your eye, like swastikas on concrete stacks. Maybe lately the dull astrologies of End, Millennium-edge rant about world death make sense. Look. Messages the dead send take time to arrive. When the parched breath of the Owens River Valley guttered out, real voices bled through the black & white. The newspaper ad cried, We who are about to die salute you. Unarmed, uncontrite. Gladiators: a band of farmers, entrenched. And how many on the Empire's side recognized the bitter history of that Bow? Greed drenches itself in a single element, unsurprised. Like strippers, spotlit. Tits and asses flash red-gold, while jets shriek above. Rim-shot. History, like a shadow, passes over a city impervious as a bouncer's shove to dreams. Images tell you what's imaginable. Here comes another ton. We bathe in what's re-routed from the source: a fable of endless water in a dipper made of tin.
From An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems, published by Penguin, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Carol Muske. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 17, 1945. Her poetry collections include Blue Rose (Penguin, 2018), a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Sparrow (Random House, 2003), a National Book Award finalist.
Date Published: 1997-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/like-this