Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Yet another day in this ancient place, this Romanized sepulcher,
this urbanized temple to worship what never was, this sacrifice
of marbled skin and stone life-blood, paleness of what was.

Yet another span of hours, sameness and tedium; another day
of listening to the new ideas that are neither new nor ideas,
because of the baneful and prideful duty of an archon.

Today a respite from legalities – a babbler commending us for
our gods, known and unknown. What an impudent fellow, as if
our gods known and unknown actually cared for him and for us.

Although he speaks socratically, with both passion and calm,
like a voice of iron in the forge, does he know the fate of Socrates?
We kill our prophets; assassinate our heroes; poison our truthsayers.

I half-listen until I see Damaris, seated at the front of the crowd in
rapt attention, hearing the babbler’s siren song. Damaris, my soul
mate, my consolation and affirmation that I am not wholly mad.

She is transfixed. The others murmur, laugh and snicker. I turn to
face the babbler, with his thorned flesh. And in that flash of time I
first listen, my soul is seared, torn, shattered like smashed stone.

My heart is pierced; my heart so dead in sameness and tedium, is
stabbed, consumed with the same words that force the crowd’s
laugh and sneer to rise in an illusion of levitation and levity.

The babbler’s piercing look silences the crowd. He leaves with his
few close behind him. I stand to see my white robes now stained
with spilled red from my fingernailed palms, an archon’s stigmata.

Silence gives way to sardonic sneers of those who cultivate minds
of emptiness, the intellectualism of the void. I run to catch the
babbler with the thorn and piercing look, Damaris at my side.

I am broken, she says.
I am not mad, I say,
and run faster.

Painting: St. Paul preaching at the Areopagus by Raphael (1515-1516).

Over at the High Calling Blogs, the prompt for the Random Act of Poetry (RAP) was to go to an ancient place – Egypt, China, India, Greece, Rome, wherever, as long as it was ancient. I chose the account of St. Paul in Athens, speaking at the Areopagus on Mars Hill (Acts 17).


Anonymous said...

running toward
and not away from

"archon’s stigmata"
new to me,
i like that.

wonderful work, glynn.
i loved reading it.

Kathleen Overby said...

I can imagine feeling this at this time and place.

Anonymous said...

Glynn - so many rich allusions here that you drew from the painting, matched with a compelling storyline. How do you do it? Excellent.

Maureen said...

This is a compelling prose poem, Glynn. Beautifully written, with a deep understanding of the subject matter, excellent scene-setting, and even suspense. I especially like how you bring it to conclusion.

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh Wow!

I am speechless.

L.L. Barkat said...

This, just this...

"I am broken, she says.
I am not mad, I say,
and run faster."

S. Etole said...

I, too, like that last line ... your writing keeps inviting more and more.

Jeff Jordan said...

"We kill our prophets; assassinate our heroes; poison our truthsayers."

Some things never change...

You paint a great picture with your words here, Glynn.

Laura said...

Wonderful. Have to go back and re-read.

SimplyDarlene said...

This is the first time I have heard a painting speak.