Pathos of the Ruin

My hands have not touched pleasure since your hands,—


And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love[.]

Dust, ashes. There is nothing else.
Sullen heliotropes follow blackened
avenues, resist in themselves
the undoing of dusk’s moonlit touch, tend
to blushing wounds sundown doubles.
Obsidian and abrupt horizons
descend, decrepit cubits measuring borders
of a king’s garden his sphinxes offend with scars.

Claws of sand like scorpions gust
veils of shade their scorch penetrates. Petals
erase delicate hours, faces
of seasons dissipate into broad piles.
Enough to be called coffins, dust
lengthens its aching beds’ shadows, angles
its burial around this garden’s howling souls,
accommodating angels broken ground swallows.

Suicide embraces new life
as a verb. The fall only settles for
its autumnal role, thinks it might
perform better next time ritual work,
that the chill of this beef’s shoulder
makes its vendetta worth enduring strife.
A king contemplates revenge, rallies a thousand
magicians to raise more tempestuous demons.

Defeating these sphinxes with thirst
cracks open with a roar before dawn those
red granite hearts of theirs he spurns.
Having been burned enough, with calm he pours
unrequited quicklime to hurt
worse than strychnine throats whose song stone ignores.
Pathos of the ruin, more moving than music
in some spheres, silence consumes converts faith loses.

1Hart Crane, “Exile”, [Stanza 1, Line 1], in “Poems Uncollected but Published by Crane” of Complete Poems of Hart Crane: Edited by Marc Simon, published at New York by Liveright in 2001; page 144.
2Ibid., “The Broken Tower”, [Stanza 5, Lines 17–18], in the same chapter of the same edition; page 160.