Monday, July 31, 2017

Certain Questions for Ashurbanipal

weep, Ashurbanipal, your books burn
your thoughts lie in seize
their frenzy must be yours now, or else probabilities
might wreck through your strange pillars, certain 
kitchen-gardens, might tear forth clockfaces 
who are like old fighters with broken teeth

certain duties need to be performed 
so, king Banipal, the Ashur, tears off a leaf
There were many Ashurs after him,
a few might even have had charged into enemy columns
all by themselves,

one or two might even have had faded into marshlights
in some tiger-prowl fen, a few might have looked
down from the hills to see their huts burning
fields of gold-coloured crops turning into fields of gold-coloured flames, as they billow up, 
smoke covers nostrils of historians, - who, eyes wide shut
never sought to learn from all these fires - 
might not weep with you, ancient, regal Ashur with
a crown and a ruby perhaps, a belt of gold, 
Nile & Sudan coloured dreams off lion-glow skin and flesh in mud,
sweat, - as they see their scrolls & parchments aflame

(When the smoke gets thick enough, one often finds it tough to ascertain who's on which side)

Now tell us, mighty ruler of Nineveh, from many climes beyond, will you shoot
at the past - at history -
or will you shoot at the enemy now?

The palace is dark. Pillars frown down. The Ashur weeps for wisdom lost.

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