By: Michael Derrick Hudson
You’ll trip over it whenever you stroll the Forum, teeth
and spalled vertebrae, my phalanges
used as pavers, liony yellow and crumbling in situ . . .
It’s so sad, this reduction to time’s kibble. Junked and
recycled, my gravel’s been scattered
citywide: wrists left to the lime-burners, molars sold
for scrap. My jawbone’s a goat corral
up to the hinges in fodder and filth. Of my ribcage
only a few splinters remain, still stuck
to the leathery black rind of Caesar’s heart. Tourists
shuffle through my pelvis, a grotto famed
for the cat-piss stench of centaurs, their pornographic
graffiti and the tarry stalagmites
of wine-dark scat. How their flinty hooves clattered
over the mosaics those nights when they’d gallop off
in pursuit of the virgins. Ah, the virgins! How easily they’d
slip our grasp, gathering up
lingerie and toothbrushes, blowing us kisses goodbye . . .
Scholars took years to identify my skull, the brainpan
fouled with mouse droppings, owl pellets
and busted amphorae, spooky winds shush-shushing
through the cracked dome. O lost luxury! Splendid baths
featuring salons, outrageous
cuisine and twenty-four-hour boutiques. Every niche
its own nude, every spigot its own flavor. Caesar whet
once his exquisite appetites here, a depilated tyrant
up to the jowls in his own broth. So much stale purpose, so
many dead language protocols. The tedium
of yesses and wants. So many same things over and over.
Michael Derrick Hudson lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Boulevard, Columbia, The Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Triggerfish Critical Review,and elsewhere. He was co-winner of the 2014 Manchester Poetry Prize.