The Classical Archaeology of My Skeleton

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.

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