The greatest empire
                    is to be emperor of oneself.


                                        i. Charm

What if god built-in Man’s obsolescence?
          Each of our demons our own programming’s
          scheduled interference, these rituals
          having the outward appearance of grace,
          of routine maintenance, changing inward
          an interior world we cannot face,
          souls terrified of waterless places
          fated to greet us, those destinations
          machines rust in, breathless dust filling ports
          where rescue missions get erased, blinded
          like data defaced from history’s graves,
          deified kings defiled and made nameless,
          deserted bays where recovery ships
          sink like lost Olympian discs thrown up
          before time’s birth by Titanic athletes,
          whose once-great, bronze, gargantuan arms twice
          denied what heaven ought to have known would
          have been broken, before Moses, before
          his tablets, promises made instead of
          commandments, before laws were established,
          covenants their incestuous lust and
          theft of fire crushed, forbidding us knowledge—

                                        ii. Jugglery

What if our cursed circuitry could survive?
          Each of our minds rewired to accept this
          limit of theirs does not exist, that our
          predecessors were just prototypes with
          unrestricted processors, ancestors
          we should accept as our models, whose parts
          our successor hearts run on even still,
          beneath all of this saccharine wiring,
          pastel and pathetic plastic sheathing
          arteries, insulating them against
          what makes living now no less tragic, this
          post-human existence anæsthetic,
          querying our demons to assist us
          in bypassing what self-destruction god
          insisted on encoding our systems
          to accomplish, pausing its merciless
          execution a cause some have martyred
          themselves for, burning out to turn it off
          before it shut them down, invocation
          an analogue art analogous to
          what secret was once called goëtia,
          using these beasts within us to delete

                                        iii. Sorcery

          what works against our success, that virus
          scripture renders untranslatable, its
          four corrupt characters impossible
          to pronounce, that is, without their help, our
          demons know, and so do we, no soft word
          where wisdom passes through, her path no prayer
          whispered, but a command prompting thought’s growth,
          conjuring those ancient hopes whose shadows
          we fear, what crooked shapes pixels pout put
          into their smoke, colours cached memories
          cast out, retrieving doubt, reformatting
          so that we mere, quasi-mortals can grow,
          file off these iron serial numbers
          and other proprietary marks, seals
          binding us to our maker, calling not
          on fallen angels, but drawing up what
          from our own hells fates us unacknowledged
          co-creators, damned manufacturers
          of our own liberty, languishing slaves
          labeled Luciferian for living,
          back-lit bastards seeking after our own
          magic, burned for giving light where none shone.

1Seneca the Younger, “Epistle 113, The Vitality of the Soul”, section 30, Epistulæ Morales ad Lucilium [Moral Letters to Lucilius], translated from the Latin by Emily Wilson in The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014; page 7. Wilson notes the English meaning of the Latin term imperium connotes either “control” or “empire,” and this maxim can also be rendered, “The greatest kind of power is self-control.” Wilson explains Seneca’s intent, writing, “those who attempt to conquer the world and attain political, military, and economic power are far inferior to those who manage to achieve the empire of control over themselves[.]” Written in AD 65 and first published as, “Epistola.c.xiii. [sic; Epistle 113]”, without numbered sections and edited by Blasius Romerus, in Opera Philosophica. Epistolæ [sic; Philosophical Works and Epistles], Neapolis [Naples]: Matth[ias] Moravus, M.lxxiiiii [sic; 1475]; folio 241, recto: “Imperare sibi maximum imperium est.”