-- Morituri te salutamus.
by Carol Muske-Dukes
Los Angeles Times, 1927
Maybe it's not the city you thought
it was. Maybe its flaws, like cracks
in freeway pylons, got bigger, caught
your eye, like swastikas on concrete stacks.
Maybe lately the dull astrologies of End,
Millennium-edge rant about world death
make sense. Look. Messages the dead send
take time to arrive. When the parched breath
of the Owens River Valley guttered out,
real voices bled through the black & white.
The newspaper ad cried, We who are about
to die salute you. Unarmed, uncontrite.
Gladiators: a band of farmers, entrenched.
And how many on the Empire's side recognized
the bitter history of that Bow? Greed drenches
itself in a single element, unsurprised.
Like strippers, spotlit. Tits and asses
flash red-gold, while jets shriek above.
Rim-shot. History, like a shadow, passes
over a city impervious as a bouncer's shove
to dreams. Images tell you what's imaginable.
Here comes another ton. We bathe in
what's re-routed from the source: a fable
of endless water in a dipper made of tin.