Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Imperium: A Bedtime Story

In the story of civilization there is this:
Charlemagne conquering Saxons
Made them choose baptism or death.

After beheading 4500 in one day,
He set out for Thionville—the road quite
Wintry, horses awash with bloody snow—
Where he’d celebrate the Lord’s nativity.

I tell you this so you will fall asleep
Thinking of the rise and fall of empire,
As the tabby buries her nose in wool
And squints contentedly.
For Hegel,
The spirit of philosophy would rule
In some future age. Geist he called it.

Armies still ride along that muddy road.
Lullaby: beat, beat of horse hoofs.

The Venerable Bede dictated
To the boy scribe Wilberht
Right up to the hour of his death,
His voice breaking against
The wet hills of Northumbria.
His only worldly goods, “a few treasures,”
In a box he ordered brought to him,
So he could hand them out, at the last
—Some pepper, napkins, incense.

Now close your eyes.  

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