Monday, March 2, 2015


Hallowed chapel glimmering
gold in the light of a hundred
candles shining on a thousand
years of coded messages
Chi Ro anchored frescoes
of incorruptible peacocks
bright symbols of resurrection
as the flesh of faithful
decayed, despite the lime

Deeper in ash
grey dormitorios where
corpses slept on laddered
shelves carved to exact size
as if faith were a winding cloth
that clung to the dead
and needed no extra room

hale bodies shrunken
in death pressed
flat enough to slot
into custom beds

babies tucked lengthwise
into corners and edges

some few niches scraped
just wide enough for two
and sealed with terra cotta tiles

until the breath of Jesus
could inflate their shells
like balloons rising to the sky

The graves are empty
now. Selected martyrs
were carted to sanctified ground
when Rome converted

Barbarians sacked
the rest, found marble-boxed treasure
leaving shelves as empty
as their heathen hearts

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