Late Imperial Woes
I anxiously wait by the phone,
My favourite villa’s up in smoke,
Barbarians are nearing Rome.
I’m rich in titles, yet I’m broke.
Great gangs of surly dispossessed
Now throng the streets of every town.
The Emperor’s under house arrest,
The Internet keeps going down.
While treason trials are underway,
Inflation’s soaring through the roof.
The army’s in the tycoons’ pay—
The hangman needs less and less proof.
The churches have been wholly stripped,
The ancient temple doors all barred.
The final Vestal Virgin whipped
For being deflowered by the Guard.
Now’s a golden age for plunder,
Dramatic shifts for rich and poor.
For family fortunes to blunder
To unfortunate metaphor.
The sun is already setting
On the ruins in which we rest,
On all that we are regretting
As we hurry on to the west.
We’ll catch the last departing train,
Packed full of desperate refugees.
Then follow the very last plane’s
contrail towards the endless seas.
We’ll haunt the empty promenade
Where thrived a holiday resort.
Search among the empty dockyard
And the shipless ghost of a port.
Shocked by the cultural wreckage,
And with nowhere else left to run,
Some Stoic of ancient courage
Will honour what ought to be done.
The rest of us, shamed, will gather
Like flotsam exposed on the shore.
Pray Neptune or God our Father
To save us from a vengeful Thor.
With a ruined world behind us,
We’ll face the grey, forbidding waves.
Wait for the Furies to find us
And seal us in our nameless graves.
Craig Dobson has had poems published The North, The Rialto, The London Magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, Magma, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Southword, The Poetry Daily Website and Agenda. He has work forthcoming in THINK, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Dark Horse. He lives and works in the UK.