A Poem for the Marcellus

 

 

for Allen Ginsberg, who reminded us that the worship of Moloch required the sacrifice of children.

 

I.

 

Marcellus below us. Marcellus below us.

Marcellus, tell us, who are you?

Older than fishes. Older than spinal cord and bone

and the green day of trees. Older than pollen dust,

than seeds. Bedrock of grief.

Subterranean coral reef. Microbe and nanowire.

Electrically conductive, hypersaline fire.

 

II.

 

Marcellus our cellar. Marcellus unlike us.

Fissured and fossilled sarcophagus

of sea lilies and squid, ego and id.

The whole periodic table in you.

Uranium. Radium. Barium. Lead.

Marcellus, home of the dead.

Toluene. Mercury. Benzene. Brine.

Arsenic. The River Styx.

Five hundred million years thick.

 

In you Euridice.

 

Hades. Moloch. Charon’s boat.

Hades. Moloch. Ransom note.

 

II.

 

Marcellus deserved the name given him

who waged war and gained fame for the sacking

of Syracuse, for the battle of Gaul, only to lose

to the enemy at home. And fall. No exit plan.

Some say your success was embellished,

General Marcellus, tell us: who called you

Sword of Rome?

 

Saudi Arabia below our feet. A prolific monster

says Wall Street. A sure thing. A shale play.

Play. Play. Place your bet.

 

Marcellus: a minor character who guides

Hamlet away from his father’s ghost.

What, has this thing appear’d again to-night?

Something is rotten in the state of. . . .

Here, sign this lease and let’s make the most

of it.

 

Enters now Marc Antony breaking bread

with Bobby Kennedy. Jealous?

 

Et tu, Marcellus.

 

O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,

that I am meek and gentle with these butchers.

 

IV.

 

Hades. Moloch. Charon’s boat.

Hades. Moloch. Ransom note.

 

Marcellus, who are we? Drill. Syringe.

Derrick. Vein. Two junkies argue how many

atoms of carbon dance on the head of a pin.

 

Marcellus, quick. Tell us. I hear the trucks.

They’re not far. The plan is reduce you to rubble.

There is no Hubble telescope for you.

No 24-hour spill cam for us.

 

Are you a box inscribed with name Pandora? Or a

scroll on which are written the names of us all?

 

V.

 

Holy the rock

and the fissure,

the salt and the diatom’s fall.

Holy the unfractured.

Holy the wall

between you

and us, Marcellus.

Holy the cave.

Holy the soluble.

Holy the hall.

Holy the unmapped

and abandoned

well.

 

Hell.

 

I know you’re down there.

 

Mom always said,

don’t blow up the basement.

 

Hades. Moloch. Charon’s boat.

Hades. Moloch. Ransom note.

 

Let me love you

from a long way up.

Holy the water.

Holy the cup.

 

 

 

 

A Poem for the Marcellus also appeared in the Huffington Post.