By Jonathan Greenhause
Feature image: Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens, 1888/1891 by Albert Pinkham Ryder
but are presently a grain of sand
buried at the bottom of the sea, a fly on the windowpane
of a once-sacred mosque lost in the heart of Christianity.
Your glorious achievements
are scribbled footnotes on pages ripped from ancient tomes
no one will ever read, your manifestos mistaken for satires,
dismissed as innocuous, as too eager to please.
Your rightful place in history
has been repeatedly plowed under, the dates of your birth & death
erased to make room for more pressing memories.
Each song you composed
has already commenced its inevitable process of decomposition,
each film you directed unable to witness
its celluloid heroes resurrected & displayed on screen,
all the streets named after you
bulldozed, converted into numbered freeways.
You’re the impenetrable fortress
constructed by a civilization that has ceased to wage war,
the central star in a system
with no sentient creatures to adore you,
the children you enthusiastically sired
having been born sterile, told their father never existed.
Even the undiscerning worms have tasted better meat than yours
& will quickly forget the meal you’ve fed them.
Jonathan Greenhause was the winner of both Aesthetica Magazine’s 2018 Creative Writing Award in Poetry and the 2017 Ledbury Poetry Competition, a runner-up in America’s 2019 Foley Poetry contest, and first runner-up in the 2018 Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Prize. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, The Dark Horse, Moon City Review, and Salamander, among others.
Feature image: Andrew W. Mellon Collection, Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.