You came to our shores
But long before
Us with war
You stole our gods
We knew not what for.
You dressed them up
With brand new names
Added some paint and
Gave them new games
And this is how
We were tamed
Not with shame
But with the usurpation
Of our religious nation.
We were already in your homes
Bloody martyrs, no longer nomads
The tribes had come together
Tethered to each other within forever
Hungry, but unwilling to be bought
Craving less enslaving
Never reaching what we sought.
We had our one true god
To hell with you and all your pagans
Our souls were purified and no gentiles
Till Constantine combined
The Christians with the pagan mind
And once again the powers that be
Stole and controlled our religion you see.
We were tamed
Not with shame
But with the usurpation
Of our religious nation
Rise! Oh, Mighty Jupiter;
Our Father now forgotten.
Come claim your rightful reverence.
Your pagan pedigree misgotten.
You were once our Shining Father;
Great King of all the Sky.
But you allowed your world to set
so a new Son could arise.
Zeus once ruled before you, and
Jesus became your heir.
Today not many realize
how we got from here to there.
I have considered for some moments
how our thoughts of god do change.
Plural notions of so long ago,
today can seem so strange.
We like to think we've come so far,
since those pagan days of yore.
Have we abandoned superstition
or just embraced it even more?
It was millennia ago
that Zeus ruled Mount Olympus.
He, their leader, more than father,
often beaten by hubris.
The Greeks, they worshiped leaders,
seeking standing in this forum.
Such desires, democratic
became their gods that ruled before them.
As the centuries moved on,
your new Latin home was Roma.
Your title too, transformed
to reflect a new persona.
To Zeus we added "Father",
or in Latin, pater, we prefer.
So Zeus, becomes Zeus-pater,
Zupater, then Jupiter.
Our names for gods reveal
exactly how they fill our needs.
Over time our needs evolve
and so a new name supersedes.
As Rome aged, it developed
a need to know god as a man.
To be one of his number.
To see themselves as of his clan.
This zeus, he can be talked to,
can be greeted and be known.
They "Hail Zeus" as HeyZeus.
And now its Jesus on the Throne.
Through such inquests we can see
the needs Gods fill evolving,
from cold, covetous Kings
to a begotten Son absolving.
We imagine in the Heavens
things to help us understand,
how a universe so endless
can be the realm alone of man.
The Florentine man in a violet cape
descended the stair with a lopsided gait
a wretched procession; subscribers in cue
rattling off as they stream from the pew
sounds and smells from a shadowy place
a catholic priest to gin up base
Lanterns hung on bolted doors
cobbled streets and wooden floors
stepping stones and iron bells
fortified by a citadel
hallowed halls and sepulchers
dragon cane for horse drawn tours
castle turret, archer holes
centaur scribed in chamber bowls
garden columns in courtyard view
the blood ballet and hullabaloo
ancient tombs on warrior grounds
gods and saints who made their rounds
goliath still with battered scythe
knelt in prayer and mummified
battle fires and crowds that roar
gallows, caves, abysmal war
gargoyles flock the terrace slope
pearly gates to bring on hope
serpents, snakes and burning ash
the lava bombs and trident clash
mariners drift in absentee
as neptune rises from the Tyrrhenian Sea
Do not be baited
Into the notion
Things could be worse
That they are somehow better
Do not give into the idea
That we are somehow past
The mistakes of nations before us
We are always a moment away
From Ancient Rome, fickle and meek
Do not listen to such beliefs
That things will just get better
Hanging onto hope is a stagnant dream
True change is revolution
But they want monotony to be the game
Take me to Rome.
And then we can say "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
But you already do as the Romans do, because you conquer me.
Take me to Paris.
And then we could learn how to correctly French kiss, and ironically eat French fries.
But then you'll look at the French girls and think "Could I conquer them?"
I'll reply with a passive request to go sight see.
I'll look at you and you'll look at them.
Then when we travel home, you'll settle and I'll smile.
adam and eve took the forbidden fruit
and were banished from the light of heaven,
the great warrior achilles was defeated
in his pride and grief on the grounds of troy,
mount vesuvius erupted and at once pompeii fell to ashes,
joan of arc was burnt at the stake in the name of her battles,
rome plunged to its failure upon the arrival of vanquishers
these are some of the greatest falls from grace,
and although time is filled to the brim with such,
the world had never seen an undoing quite as great as hers—
she saw his face,
she heard his song,
and the rest became history.
The first steps you take as you enter the immaculate hallways of the first cathedral in Rome are the last ones taken out of fear.
Fear, you had always been full of it, of potential abandonment and quivering voices.
But here, the arches have beckoned years upon years of marveling, of eyes cast upward at staggering golden ceilings, light reflecting through the brilliance of violet stained glass.
This is the moment in which you realize that bravery exists in the aftermath. Just hours ago, you had boarded the suffocating plane all by yourself, red sneakers and matching suitcase, departing the same home that kept you calm for so long. With shaking hands and a hammering heart, you are buzzing with static electricity you were too afraid to understand before this moment.
Peeking out of the claustrophobic airplane window, you realize just how small you are, how microscopic everything seems just as soon as it has been defeated. And though your worries have taken shelter as a lump in your throat, they soon dissolve like sugar cubes in hot tea.
There is nothing left but tranquility.
Cascading blankets of translucent white hang daintily through the glass, blinding the plummeting ground from existence. This is the first time you have ever let yourself taste freedom.
And then, while your neck cranes down at the indigo expanse below you, you realize that the same blue is no longer taking shelter inside of your bones. Blue no longer runs through the paths of veins in your hands or in the moments in class you wished you would have said something but never did. Blue no longer remembers your writing and how easy it was to fit solitude in between the letters.
Blue, instead, is all around you, oceans below your feet like a collection of everything you were too heavy to hold onto.
Somewhere, miles and hours behind you, your mother is cooking dinner. She will leave an extra bowl of Monday night soup at your place at the dinner table, an accidental broth you will never taste. Your father’s heavy eyelids have collapsed, television humming white noise, cat on his shoulder as the peach-colored dusk melts into the room.
Yet you were there,
suspended miles of infinities above the same ocean you fell in love with back when you were even smaller than before. Back when your big brown eyes followed paths in the heavens, the soft glide of the ones brave enough to shuttle toward new horizons, redefining the notion of reckless abandon.
And now, you are here.
You are one of them.
Captivated, enveloped in the shadows of the masterpieces that have aged over thousands of lives that will never meet yours. You are a pioneer of your first real experience, marble statues and pillars the sole witnesses of your rebirth.
They are haunting, breathtaking, faces painted gracefully upon crumbling walls in colors that once made souls tremble in the same skies you had dreamed of, and then dreamed in.
You are here, surrounded by memories of light. And for a couple of moments tied together by blind hope, you forget that darkness once knew you by name.
It's funny, you know?
How we used to talk of Paris, Rome –
one day where we would call our home
But no longer do we talk, and I have a flight booked
to Paris; I've already been Rome
You are still close to home, talking to others now, of
If the Sacred Fire of Vesta went out, it meant one of two things:
1. Rome was in danger;
2. A Vestal Virgin, a guardian of the flame, was having sex.
Chastity and fire
are two attributes that are directly correlated. If one is lost,
the other will follow. Trust me. This is fact:
only virgin women
can be celebrated.
The Virgin Mary,
the virgin goddesses,
the way rape was seen as a crime
against the father, not the daughter:
Do not eat the pomegranate seeds,
do not touch the fruit of knowledge. A
statue of a young boy
holding an apple
does not hold
the same connotation
as a woman holding an apple. Offering it to a man who
could have refused. Getting blamed for the fall from Eden.
with a snake draped around her body is not Eve,
is Lilith, but it’s close enough. They are both to blame for
all the evils of the world, so what does it really matter anyway? Women
are more susceptible to wavering in their faith in God,
to worshipping the devil, to practicing witchcraft—
The flames are out. Rome is not safe. A “Virgin” is buried
alive for her sin. Lilith is slaughtering women in childbirth.
Babies are dying. A man is celebrated for his multiple
lovers. Slut shaming in 79 AD. The beds in Pompeii
brothels are made of stone. St. Cecilia is face down in the
dirt. Women on the same level as slaves, if not lower. The
goddess Vesta as a housewife.
The year is 180 AD
The year is 2016 CE
No one cares for the senators
Or the news
The wage gap is growing wider The country frequently finds itself divided
Threats abound from both within
One thousand years
Of technology and culture
Will be lost again
for one thousand years
In the midst of a dark age
This is the end of Pax Romana
And, if we're not careful
The end of our own era