or was it Sin  
of the moon
in his brothers’ place
on the hissarlik mound
bound by Tigris and Khosr  
who changed the river’s course
for the palace on Kuyunjik
city of 18 gates slaves built
for his glory, Assur’s,
forms center and boundary  
two hundred years later its  
ancient name buried
Xenophon passing thru thought:  
“Achaemenids destroyed this Median city”
the actual dispersed  
in memories, legends  
and their exegesis, geographers
or travelers, fragmented  
in earth annals, curls
of a beard, palm’s shade  
fish cloak, apkallu winged  
sage, guardian spirits
scarab seal
foundation deposits
undeciphered till the 1850s
while the pillage continues
vaults lean against throne for profit
avarice off the gold-standard
what Rawlinson Westmacott missed, beauty
other than the Elgin marbles
strange beauty in the service of power
a renaissance
Of Medici Angelico magi
Sassetti’s books plated  
à mon pouvoir . . . à mon pouvoir . . .
omers of wine  
omers of first fruits
cedar     pine     cypress
carried from snow-capped  
Amanus, Baltai quarry
a divine revelation

Mosul marble alabaster
mottled barley of Mt. Nipur,  
Kapridargilâ breccia, giš-
nugallu of Mt. Ammanana
presiding colossi, winged
bull winged lion with
human heads
“as the bombs fell
I ran thru the streets
watching the bombs fall on TV”
carved on throne-room walls:
I besieged, I conquered,  
I carried off the spoils
armory making peace
relative to power
walked upon a river
fish swimming inside
Michael, how your lines surfaced
The lines through these words
form other, still longer lines


Izdubar begins empire

and the banks a deluge of accounts
poor commodities to depend upon

forever unsettled, farmed humanity

at the heart of history
generations forced
into wilderness
camps, unable to wander

that a world without guns
would be a world without eternity

power in the throne-room suite
dispersed tragedy


library tablet found underground:

dove sent forth returned
swallow sent forth returned
raven sent forth saw corpses
it ate, then wandered away

animals sent forth to the four winds
I poured a libation, built an altar
on a mountain peak, cut seven herbs
placed reeds, pines, sigmar beneath

the gods gathered at the burning
the gods gathered at the good burning
the gods gathered like flies over the sacrifice

.  .  .  .  .  .  .

are those lotus blossoms
patterning the pavement

and the walls of gazelles and onagers
urdimmu the lion-legged, eagle-
footed djinn

prisoners and deportees
conifers and grapevines

in a river valley between wooded mountains
water sweeps waste heaps

“conquest of my hands”

not a window but a field


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