Lunar Dispossession

 

Clif Mason

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 111 in 2007.
 

Down silicate dunes, across impossible dreams
of black glass and red clay, the horsemen rode--
seven, implacable, aloof, commanding.
Their horses' hooves, ringed in steel,
rang clean on stone, sang of missed days
and forsaken nights, of the broken chances
that always spell a desolation of wants.
The night's hair was braided with weeping.
The day's winding cloth was woven of weeping.

Factories spilled their workers' preserved hearts,
their pickled spirits, into the green maw
of determined and interminable desire.
Smokestacks choked the sleek wind,
wrapped their wire scarves round its slim neck
and squeezed till the air was still as desert rock,
till storm sewers thrust up a torrent of dead dogs.
Weeping filled the air with the cold taste of remorse.
Weeping filled the air with the smoke of unseen fires.

The horsemen rode into a mountain village.
The air was thin and the horses were breathing hard.
The men dismounted and drank cups full of spiders
and delicate webs from the abandoned well.
Their horses slurped scorpions from a dry trough.
The men eyed the sun hung at the meridian,
a desiccated bread crust, a rough quartz icon.
This morning only mourning doves sang, weeping.
This evening only bats and owls prayed, weeping.

Orphans trailed through the immolated streets.
Beggars collapsed into dust and rotted teeth.
All the houses were littered with dying mice.
The houseflies wriggled their eyelash-thin feet
in slow but resolute death.
Yet empty clothes still got up and went to work,
and empty clothes still put their checks in the bank.
Weeping filled the plates with coal grit and ash.
Weeping filled the pantry with steel filings and sand.

The horsemen could not make their horses stand up.
They sent their last bullets through the windows
of the horses' skulls, watched them bleed ball bearings
and toothless gear wheels and miles of rust.
There was no shade so the horsemen collapsed
against a compound's fence, topped with razor wire.
As sun flamed to earth, they gagged on their tongues.
Nothing was heard for a long time, not even weeping.
Nothing was heard for a long time, not even weeping.