riding the hills of Hellas I think of
. The landscape rich with bright
rock parting soil old pines older
mountains. That alphabet’s sounds
and symbols that with a little practice

our tour guide’s tense wanders—
Persephone is going to be taken
the world has been punished
Xerxes again is moving on Athens
Odysseus will have a clever idea

loud and sure sun on white stone
the temple of Zeus here
and in ruins

those anthologized ones could sing

a line like beaten gold and decree

the world this way or that for time

 

present and time to come but now

we face exile if we fail to laugh

at those who reach deep into earth

 

and instead must waste so much

pixelated paper for no

more than a productive cough

 

our hands are too weak for oars our

feet too tired to climb the hill

and report on the clean air so

 

we ask the wrong question now that

the mountains have lost their last green

spirits but we have no one

 

no priest to pronounce the signs singing

from the steaming liver—but no—let’s not

soil this by dressing up in a song long gone

 

one day the animals that remain may

gather to snort and stamp a sweeter

melody in air free from our cardboard