Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1

Lawrence at the Etruscan Tombs

He swaggers with feverish grin,
                frail tyrant rasping at the guides:
To the tombs! Now!
                (Rude opener of cans of worms,
young addict of the female clasp.)

                A stiff dog, sunning, shakes himself No,
sighs; men descend
                into a night, a cold.
Down, down dirt steps the lanterns gutter;
                flame unsheaths tufa beams,
furls out redbody and blacklock—
                Rise! laced foot on a wakened road!
A syrinx cry of Battle . . .

Tuberculoidal fervor rakes dead walls
                room after room: Freedom’s big-eyed stare?
blind servitude? majestically
                the painted shades unfurl,
struck by his brandished light:
                goddesses horseback, bright caustic worlds—
tombed collieries?

Old heroes bat their eyes,
                wrench hands loose from the paint
to shade their sight—
                waked in this shafted night
disturbed, transfused,
                with David’s short long glory.