Trajan’s Column

By Uberdi Ascweli

In Rome, amidst the many structures, gray, peach, white and brown,
around it, rising, Trajan’s Column, does not stand alone.
It was a work commemorating Trajan’s victory
in overwhelming Dacians in the Second Century.
The quintessential type of a compression member, it
was made to glorify th’ empire and its emperor.
Most famous for its scrolling, spiral, sculptured bas relief,
the shaft is made of nineteen marble drums—a massive feat.
Its ninety-eight feet height is a unique accomplishment
in engineering, a construction worth acknowledgement.

But more than that… it is a work of art, a skeleton,
the bones are piled on high into the sky, the eye, in stone,
the ordinary and the battle… Ordinary life’s
a battle nineteen centuries ago and now—the strife,
a table nineteen marble drums, the bones piled up on high…
Above, through th’ arching azure sky the grand, white clouds go by.
Below, amidst the present and its ruins tourists pass.
Who are those people there? We all are tourists here, alas.
The traffic goes on by. The people walk and talk and drive…
What does it mean to live? What does it mean to be alive?

 

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The Angel and the Message

By Crise de Abu Wel

I came upon an angel lying on a bright, white cloud.
He lay there staring, in the air, upon a yellow shroud.
What captivated me about him was his attitude.
He was so peaceful lying there in sheer beatitude.
He leaned upon his bent right hand, so quiet and serene,
when I attempted listening, I could not hear a thing.
His golden halo, slightly off, around his thoughtful gaze,
drew me into the tranquil realm of his euphoric laze.
But I could not retrieve his sign. What was he pointing at—
and not without some energy, and slightly flushed at that?

 

The Killing Does Not Cease

By Crise de Abu Wel

“He wept at what he saw.”
—”Scribe” El Uwade

I wish that even now you knew the things that make for peace.
Today they are hid from your eyes. The killing does not cease.
In Egypt, Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon,
Arabia, and Syria, Iraq, and on and on.
Your enemies surround you, hem you in on every side;
and they will cast a bank about you that is high and wide.
You and your children—they will dash you, dash you to the ground,
and they will not leave any stone, not one, they won’t throw down;
because you did not know the time your visitation was.
You did not know what all your violence and hatred does.

 

A Simple, Understated Slab at Thermopylae

By Ercules Edibwa

“Beyond the point to which Simonides brought it, the epigram never rose.”
-J. W. Mackail

There at the rough hill’s brow, where thick green shrubbery has swelled,
that overlooks the narrow spot three hundred Spartans held
the Persian army off for sev’ral days, one finds a plaque,
on which there is inscribed Simonides’ famed epigraph,
rust coloured, orange-brown and square, on its encircled throne,
which has been decorated with Laconian green stone,
a simple, understated slab, a plain memorial,
the elegiac couplet’s Greek I put thus: “Stranger, tell
the Spartans we lie here obedient to their command,”
above the now retreating Malian Gulf and its sand.

 

Bruce Dale Wise is a poet living in Washington State. He often writes under anagrammatic pseudonyms.


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