I had imagined it otherwise.
Not as we are, on the white sand
possibly surrounded by
peacocks and peahens.
I meant the other thing
which I no longer remember.
The year Igor Markevitch died
the batons of conductors
turned to asps and slithered off
until spiked to death by the cellists.
A pistol cracked in B-flat.
Aldo Moro was no more.
The cognoscenti raised
their little coffee cups;
thei rsaucers white
Pop the trunk: Moro
is not there, for he has risen.
The brigades redden
and limp off, firing Kalashnikovs
into hollow desert.
Asice locked Lake Como’s secrets
deep within, no one saw
Markevitch descend to Hades
in the form of a bee, or
Moro,saints, and Caesars
who swatted him away.
The peahen’s voice
is a cry for help
but Lazarus cannot help her,
waiting as he must for his second death,
knowing full well what to expect.
Romano Prodi staggers from the grave
smiling fatly. He smells of eucalyptus.
Like bits of fresco, memories flake away,
revealing only a hand extending a pyx,
the flat eyes of a frustrated virgin,
a sickle with no hammer, a verb
in a stupid declension.
One morning later. In Bethany,
Lazarus waits for his real death
to break the one he holds
like a cold black bleb beneath the lung.
One morning later and under low
graphite clouds the road crews hose
down the sidewalks and curbs
and stale beer runs in little rivulets.
We all clutch at our chests. There is no
secret word to give a name to a letdown
cold inside us
a cattle magnet.
She daubs herself in clay —
shoulders, knees, what parts
of her back she can reach, puts
A cool bishop’s finger to my lips.
Lit torches sputter blue.
At the point of pain, white zebra-
or tiger-stripes, a whining clue.
If griefs beat through us
they flit to siphon from skin
with the iron tang of ferritin.
If meaning escapes, eventually,
through this tiny dot of pain,
it gathers in a sea of tranquility
whose surface fear skims
before it sinks in oil tars.
Light splits into long egrets
watching the pinprick stars.
The lake surges its bloody tide;
water and chikungunya
pour from my punctured side.
CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER
We misunderstood the plume of blue smoke
in the distance, attacked our own reinforcements.
Child, go ahead and fret. The S hisses and loops
through ox-bow lakes and downstream capture
away from your city, leaves the port high and dry.
The T is an altar on which you must be impaled;
its rectilinear bulk brooks no ram as substitute.
The i in minuscule a dagger tipped with a jewel
of your blood. X marks the spot where you lost
the thread of meaning. In the beginning, the word.
But before the word were all the letters, liquid
and dental, ready to slither off your tongue.
Robert Hamilton is a poet and English professor. His first chapbook, Heart Trouble, was published by Ghost City Press in 2018. Other poems are forthcoming from Posit. Originally from Portland, Oregon, he now lives in Texas.