Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Like This

                     -- 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.

Credit


From An Octave Above Thunder: New and Selected Poems, published by Penguin, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Carol Muske. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Author


Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 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