To Reign Among the Ruins

When you announce that ‘All is well,’ […]the universe gives you the lie, and your heart refutes your mind a hundred times over.

          This world is a ruined monastery

where the loneliness of the only candle left
denies its altar any offering
of comfort, mocks softly the costly transience
of a once kindred spirit, smiles, prizes,
instead, the dark mouth of a beggar’s cave the way
a death’s-head moth desires a flame, eager
to swallow his damage, to ravage every

remnant of holiness, to molest its
last restless vestige, existing to illumine
the silent ruminations of a man
who cannot look at himself, to look at him with
flickering interest, precociousness
which mirrors his crippling fears in the crookèdness
of a def(l)ective shield bent by misspent

hubris, a battle as uneventful as youth
is, undertaken by kids who invent
it when yet too naïve to even see through the
impossibility of dreams with which
they always deceive themselves, a brazen move of
one uncompromising light to dazzle
him with relentless spectacle against which his

senses have no defence or any use,
this is the future, shifting around scatterings
of discontent, impoverished pogroms
of shadows relegated to the end of the
timeline—the bottom of the food chain—of
which we believe our Selves to be at the top, the
front, the sacrilege whose whisper subdues

our past with a suggestion at which it whimpers,
that, yes, obsolescence is progress, just
to enrage the ages a dissident sage takes
a straight-razor to history’s pages—
shameless, impious, industrious—carves for his
anonymity a name, erases
from every memory lines of poetry

          he had written yet never lived, making

space for a time whose ideas he continues
to plagiarize, crimes of the mind he had
committed in ink to the experience of
vertiginous readers blind to frigid
periods of frivolous legalism, scoring
with scars the florid text of edicts which,
for æons, have been iron gall bars, litigious

lyrics, language imprisoning him with
interminable sentences, ripping them off,
ending once-and-for-all the tyranny
of this grievance’s memorial, ignoring
its inconvenient recital of
a defective love like mine, how I now somehow
find revisionism relatable, pearls

of wax piercing a candle’s side, the sweating stride
of their thick cream steed stinging tracks into
melting skin an old Zoroastrian sort of
hope, I am my own idol smashed by doubts
dropping hints of an existence, a temple without
walls, without doors, an uncovered well’s loud
forgotten font honouring openly the proud

agony of its thirst, an oracle
trafficking in anthems anathemic in their
wickedness, a cracked heretic shell of
a soul embellishing the worth of its portents
with coarse and unintelligible words
echoing riddles of old, confident that, in
beholding a flame forever, if in

so doing never turning for a moment, it
might never go out, not unless I blow,
like wind, I cannot spare a glance, where I look is
where I go, always pursuing what has
gone, an echo of a torch-song tailing comets,
a disparate prayer which has lost all of
its causes, a major conjunction of two burned-

          out cranks, cantankerous luminaries

aspecting a minor planet whose ignorant
inhabitants deny our influence—
my disguise, his image—crowds disavowing all
knowledge of it, when it finds you, wisdom
wounds, true wealth is like true love, needing nothing but
itself—the truth—speaking without speaking
something deafening about pain chewing through, but

never undoing, what lies we choose and
whose sinews used to suture us whole, emptiness
holds whatever we want, spilling out in
an incantatory pose fault-lines that walk like
a pox across the heart, marking off things
about which one should never talk, a religion
in which another human being is

believed in, love starves a stone heart, carves out a small
principality for itself among
the curves illness cures, those troublesome bumps in the
road we endure as life jumps high over
hurdles in its journey, the inevitable
chase which eventually cuts us off,
always one-upping our efforts at existence

with tense situations still awaiting
meaning and significance, those disasters whose
crass enablers, co-conspirators, and
ravenous enactors deserve yet never seem
to get their comeuppance, peace seems to need
to be disturbed, circumstance is a hunter sent
to humanize the divinity we

painfully endure, suffering sent to lead us
on, perseverance rewards but cannot
prevent what preserves us, this misery is for
everyone a mistress we cannot
ignore, good fortune is not destiny’s only
friend, time keeps faith with no one and the stars
all know more about me than I will ever know

          about them, they reign among the ruins.

1Ernest Dilworth, “Appendix” in Candide: Translated by Richard Aldington and Philosophical Letters: Edited and Translated by Ernest Dilworth, published at New York by The Modern Library in 1992; page 281.