Palmyra, Palmyra

I heard part of a BBC broadcast on the ISIS rampage in Syria.  A British scholar was asserting that the neoclassical architecture of Washington, DC was modeled in part on the ruins of Palmyra.

That's not where this poem came from, exactly.

A poem is the idiom of an idiot, full of flounders & slurry, signifying (maybe) something.  Ezekiel saw dem wheel's a'glory, way in the middle of the air (Louis Armstrong).  Eugenio Montale waxed lyric about this particular LP.

"Nummulitic" : art historian Adrian Stokes talks about the particular kind of limestone used to build the pyramids - called "Nummulitic".  After the nummulites, small protozoic creatures trapped in Egyptian limestone - from "nummus", or coin, in Latin, because of their disc-like shape.

Somehow we got from Egyptian nummulites to American dollar bills (with the pyramid & the disc) - from money to Mammon - George Washington on the other side.

Long way from the Lincoln penny.

Poetry is a work-in-progress, like the Earth (according to divine Providence).  Ursus here is a sort of image of the State as Beast (USA, RUS, USSR).  But the bears might be redeemed.  "Without vision, the people perish."


August departure... evening crickets
elegize on wooden
logs.  In Peto’s brownian
study, a sad decade disintegrates

like Queen Zeno’s palm-fronds, in
Palmyra.  One wing-scratched hand
pleads Washington’s jarred band
of masons (keening for Syrian

widows, orphan sons).  Important
information inside.
Your gravy train can’t hide
from Grace, her chaste Nubian portent –

always arriving never quite,
a Paradise for turtle-
dives.  So melt the mortal
Quito coin, our double-down knight

(shy U-bird cycling her parking
lot).  Concentric wheels
of Nummulitic seals...
one bears dawn for Ursus (barking

Mammon flipping tails) – the other
gyrates toward his irate
Beatrice – oceanic
ex, Czech mate (cyclonic mother

coated in cute limestone slime).
One down, one to go
up again, Horatio.
Antique Atlantis corals rime.


Reminiscences of 1865, by John F. Peto (Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

No comments: