Some great empires revere you
some adore you, others sneer you
like a silken black-cloaked snake
strewing anger in your wake
for you leave behind an ache-
every life dreads to be near you.
You eat civilizations raw,
each battlement and crumbling wall.
Eat memories and lives and limbs
before you every light grows dim,
all life is subject to your whims
for you care not for mortal law.
You’ve beaten, with a mighty pull
all great heroic men in full.
Breaking every golden crown
while the gods come crashing down
from their silver-singing, wind-blown
high Olympian pedestal.
Deep beneath the crumbling brown
Waiting at the last countdown
In your blackened step you’ve trod
over Grecian demigod
buried them beneath the sod
where you leave them all to drown.
Hercules and Pericles
Belpharon and Heracles
The greatest men before you fell
bereft of youth, a stooped gray shell
the last light slipped from ancient well
and fell to the Aegean Sea.
On a darkened summer night
whether fate be black or bright
like a whisper in the snow
see them wander, see them go
where you lead them, none may know
fading into distant light.
Malevolent red eyes aglow
while your footfalls sleeping slow
curl like smoke within a mist
icy hands clasp round a wrist-
all despair whom you have kissed
with your lips of peace and woe.
Are you evil, are you good-
do you give what’s said you would?
Wrenching sorrow and goodbyes
from unheeded living cries
all despair who see your eyes
piercing from your blackened hood.
Sometimes early, sometimes late
following the scent of hate
in blackened trench ‘neath leaden skies
where leaden army whistling flies
and the scorching mountain sighs
there you hide and lie in wait.
You lurk with sickness and decay
and usher in a black new day.
Screaming through the dark with light
hid in homes, burn ebony white
when children cough into the night,
you lead the dewy glinted way.
You, who lead us into light
wait by rainy roads at night
and in hospitals and homes
in the darkling sea that foams
and with each fell beast that roams
out of mind and out of sight.
You who take the weary, lost
every sailor ocean-tossed;
while before you is outpoured
every king and maid and lord
none survive your curving sword
or your swift eternal frost.
You, like white mist in the dark
like snow falling, silent, stark
cold as ice that chills the bones
wintry as the wind that moans
older than the very stones
all the world has felt your mark.
Who knew that so harsh a hand
that took so much, unthought, unplanned
could make the sorrow of man decrease
could make pain of the weary cease
and bring some everlasting peace
who gathered peoples like the sand.
For, wherever men must be
you’re found most, to set us free.
You who lead us to the end
some may look upon as friend-
some dare not to comprehend
and to others: enemy.
Causing men to go insane
some to lose and some to gain.
Irony, it should be fated
you, who are so very hated
should at once, be long-awaited
by so many steeped in pain.
Some dare not to speak your name
Certain ones you lead to fame
all your voiceless words, they heed them
none dare bite the hand that feeds them
who can tell where you will lead them
if you lead them all the same.
Some to grand palacial beauty,
some to darkness and to shame.
Doubtless yet we each shall meet you
though we cannot hope to beat you
some think that perhaps there’s more-
perhaps a place beyond a door,
a land upon a distant shore…
And thus, you find with peace we greet you.