For three days, the city has been on fire.
Flames so hot the streets of gold are beginning to run,
bringing pillagers and housewives with their prayer-lined tongues
to their knees at abandoned intersections,
armed with buckets, the collection plates for
melting footprints of fallen deities
and long lost relatives.
The effects of tragedy on a person are often unbecoming.
I will have to pretend that I have always been this way,
as a desperate search for the gilded fossils of
Caesar’s sandals commences outside my window.
No one knows how
or has even attempted
to put these fires out
and a fourth day of heat
has charred the bottoms
of my already blistering feet.
Mausoleum is a word
that dresses up a tomb,
not in flowers,
but in syllables.
In a moment of weakness, or strength, I press the urn
of Augustus against my breast
and fasten the buttons of my coat.
I have stolen the emperor’s ashes, and am thus far
When the rain finally comes,
it shuffles through this place like regret.
I remove the urn from my coat
and watch wide-mouthed children
watch the sky, dancing innocently
to the rhythm of their own relief.
The fires have all gone out.
I have stopped pretending.
On the wet street, Augustus sits next to me, a glorified jar of mud.
I find the only building left whose walls are still erect,
dip my finger in his soot, and tell the story of our collapse:
“we have done this to ourselves”
and beneath it,
“this isn’t worth repeating”