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Chicagoetry: Perhaps It's Time To Leave Damascus, Leave The Mask Behind

Perhaps It's Time to Leave Damascus, Leave the Mask Behind

I. Lawrence at Damascus (Ennui)

Picture Lawrence
on a ridge
above Damascus,

September, 1918.

Sharif en regalia, masked
as a pink-fleshed djinn,

lounging in his Rolls,
snacking on olives,
waiting for dawn.

Shattered from the stress
of constant combat,

morose, in fact,
for he knows the really great battles

are behind him now,
delaying his entrance into
what is momentarily

his city. Very soon,
betrayal, and a dream abandoned.

A far cry
from a suite of private apartments
in Cairo

rife with antique perfume,
oil dust and damask.

Before dawn
he'll descend into
the chaos

of victory, kicking away the pigs
and goats, patting children on the head,

a clever bastard
with a messianic complex
and a penchant

for the dramatic.
Lonely for love,

lurching into immortality.
Then, he goes:

"Perhaps it's time
to leave Damascus,

leave the mask
behind."


II. Napoleon at Acre (Indifference)


Picture Napoleon
below Acre, now
on the north coast

of Israel,
May, 1799.

Stymied by the Turks
and their Moroccan and Albanian
infantry,

flummoxed by desertions,
dope and dysentery.

Exhilarated by constant combat.
Rebuffed by Bashir,

Pasha of the Lebanon,
beaten, not betrayed.

Not above a kick of the goat
or a pat of the child.

Frustrated on the road
to Damascus

by the chaos
of defeat.

A far cry
from the grotto
in the Galilee

or the suite of private apartments
in Cairo

rank with antique perfume,
gold dust and damask.

Sucking olives: "Time to leave."
Pearl flesh, oleander blood.

Napoleon quickly returns
to Paris, claiming victory,
clever bastard,

but not without profit.
He covets the greatest treasure

of his booty,
a potent talisman
of immortality:

the mask
of Ozymandias.


III. The Resurrection of Ozymandias (Rapture)


All Hail Ozymandias Resurgent,
Ramses Revivified!

Restored to the atomic imagination
by the reading of a poem

on a television show,
a poem about the follies of empire

and the vagaries
of justice

on a show
about a drug dealer.

Ramesses II, Ramses the Great,
or, as the Greeks called him,

the man-god Ozymandias.

Olive flesh,
damask blood,
bones of iron.

Ozymandias at Damascus,
circa 1290 B.C.:

An officer
on maneuvers

on the road
to Dupar, no thought of staying.

No "perhaps."
Redolent of success,

lonely for glory.
Elated by war.

Roiling on the precipice
of all the wet dreams
of harem, a

clever bastard
with a messianic complex
and a penchant

for the dramatic.

A man
with the mask
of God.

He did it for himself.
To be alive.

Damascus! Soldier's Heart!
Anyone who's ever had a heart

lonely for love

laid siege to, conquered
and abandoned understands.

I digress!
Is it perfume

from an antique dress
that makes me digress?

One leaves.
What then?

How shall I next part my hair?
How best arrange the kitchen ware?
Lose the car, get a bike and a bus pass

for car fare?

Gaza or Giza,
the vagaries of justice
teeter

on the tip of a stele,
toward Rapture or Apocalypse.

One longs for Rapture--which is peace--
but can see the allure

of Apocalypse
to the elect.

It is often in our leave-takings
that we most show our love.

It can seem like
building a house

out of wind.
Yet perhaps we must begin

to say good-bye.
Leave the mask behind.

-

J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance



Permalink

Posted on September 30, 2013


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