Tarnishing the Tincture

[A]s if [he] ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift.

                    i. Motto & Compartment

Blazoning ekphrastic, an autumn • grows within, blushes the • peach of a breast, • crushes by kisses from • beneath what heat one’s • heart once was, or • should have been, at • least, wilts with its • witchery of rust tenderness • this chill dominates and • harvests, from vibrancy of • faith repulses, wrests from • a knight its conquest • entombs whispered breath parchmenting • lettuce to soiled vellum, • nourishes the dissolution of • accumulated wealth, the gears • of seasonal wheels yielding • silence, telling nothing until • flesh pressured to extinguish • life for legend is • alchemized by wilderness of • •

                    ii. Shield & Supporters

illness to stone, a • boulder for Sisyphus forged • then pitted against bone, • a shield an iron • curtain curvaceous as engorged • fruit bitten for being • too beautiful too soon, • matured by being ignored • sees its own bloom • to soil’s obscurity restored, • bends from horizons gliding • as blades edge, more • design than defence, more • time’s influence than its • benefit, this chivalrous panel • resumes its battle though • only decorative, fitted with • unfulfilled wishes diminishing to • misunderstood symbols the ambiguities • of each of which • only mimics, really, the • battle within, behind illusion’s • •

                    iii. Helmet & Mantling

presentiments of protection, cankers • by its cancer that • which autumn accomplishes by • night and by denying • light its welcome, in • spite of like upon • like falling, for autumn • bronze unrequited requires, even • slightly, some shaft’s penetration • of luminous insight, flurries • of indigo spark, at • least, to ignite its • fire to truly tumescent • height, what leaf curls, • as by herald’s hand • mantled, this mettle decay’s • rattle murmurs rewards an • architect’s efforts, not an • artist’s, for some plan • underpins this autumn filling • lungs and suffocating to • fullness of their stifling • •

                    iv. Wreath & Crest

these choking lineages crying • for acknowledgment, for attention • starved when heritage portends • inevitable its legacy’s death, • pedigrees worth less in • subsequent centuries well-oiled, soul-feuding, • goal-fuelled plastic fanatics and • pixel-fed upstarts inhabit, in • this age where heirs • became heretics, coats of • arms have been exchanged • for store credit, and • brands have replaced names, • over the knight’s tomb • a freeway has been • paved at the cost • of ancestors bleeding crude • barrels arrive day after • day to contain and • carry forward toward the • next market-place waste’s promise • of greater commerce awaits.

1Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess”, Lines 32–34, in “Poems: [Chapter] 7” of Robert Browning: Selected Poems: Edited by John Woolford, Daniel Karlin, and Joseph Phelan, published at London by Routledge in 2013; page 199.