. From the Bay of Naples To Titus Caesar and the Senate, Hail! Gaius Pliny brings you news most dire From Naples where your frightened people quail; Vesuvius has turned to molten fire! Pompeii is buried. Other towns as well, With countless Romans bloodied, lost or dead. I, across the bay, observed the hell Of Vulcan overtaking those who fled. Lightning torched a sky of thick, black clouds As Jupiter with cinders drowned the land. The roads and harbor groaned with panicked crowds Of screaming refugees where’er I scanned. My father Pliny rescued those he could But then the mountain breathed a wall of heat So vicious that he perished where he stood. Aghast, I nursed a wounded man from Crete Who’d seen his villa crumble into dirt, His noble wife and servants crushed inside. I pray that Mars release the hordes of hurt And dying victims trapped at Neptune’s tide! Men of Rome, a reckoning is nigh. Disaster had been augured but ignored: New frescoes cracked, the aqueducts ran dry, And quakes occurred which scribes failed to record. Though Vulcan’s wrath rained fire far too fast To spare the loss of life and wealth to flame, The mountain did quake warning ere its blast. Those who spurned the gods must share the blame. . . The Arrow of Time The arrow of Time flies relentlessly straight--- Exacting, unyielding, it never comes late. It flees to the future appallingly fast Disdaining the present, discarding the past. It offers no mercy, it harbors no trust; It causes whole cities to sink into dust, Reduces tall mountains to undulant hills And darkens fine art with the drear Age instills. Time makes flowers brittle, it desiccates trees; Time’s arrow carves canyons and dries up the seas. It turns sap to amber and wood into stone. Divorced from all pity it turns flesh to bone. The arrow of Time yields to nothing on Earth Not the weeping of death nor the cries of new birth. It robs me of peace with an edge which cuts deep And rushes me forward to unwelcome sleep. . . St. Anthony of the Desert The closest water is three days Of desert travel---scorching heat, Harsh blinding glare, the sands ablaze... A curse, the burning sun to greet! Dust chokes me with its smoky haze. To cross these wastes is no mean feat. The tortured lungs, the sunburnt skin The covered face, the reddened eye; So lost, my soul parched from within. No mercy from the searing sky--- Communing with the scorpion, I thirst. I pray I do not die! But ah! At night the stars shine clear And guide my path Oasis-bound Where holy words will vanquish fear And cool, fresh springs flow from the ground. I bless Whatever led me here--- This empty land where God is found. . Poet's Note: St. Anthony, who lived to be 105, died in 356 A.D. When he was 20, he devoutly followed the exhortations of Matthew 19:21. He sold everything, gave it to the poor and went into the deserts of Egypt to become a monk. A monastic community later grew around him from which other monastic communities took inspiration. He is revered as “the father of all monks.” . . Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.