Cluny



French revolutionaries guillotined God at Cluny,

but He exacted His tithe all the same:

one-tenth of their bad ideas tossed back at them.

The tyranny of terror, cheap dream of heaven, in ruins.


A vast emptiness swamps the nave;

stumps of pillars stained

black and gray and black again

by age and rain and blood.

Only one tower stands intact.

I scan the burnished hills behind it;

they do not look back.


“The birth throes of liberty,” cried Thomas Jefferson.

“Rejoice!” Despots toppled; authority crippled

for a future that never comes.

Terror and waste; waste and terror.

The desolation of faith.


On the tiny town square, a bistro beams.

Syncopated lights surge behind the bar,

sending out distress signals of the mind:

the throb of synapses firing wildly in the wind.

Material infinity.


Old men saunter in to down a beer,

and harness their dogs under tables.

Parents and students sip pricey shots of espresso.

Emancipated energy.

Above the din, they cannot hear

the Earth’s foundation crack.


Freedom leaves a sacred void in its wake,

watered by the blood of worldly martyrs.

On the menu: égalité, fraternité,

fissure and ruin.

Thunder in the hills.

Words crash around us like cannonballs.


Liberté lingers outside in the municipal lot.

A van propped up on wooden blocks for the night.

No hassles, man. Free parking.

Let’s hoist another beer to Robespierre.

His dog strains at its leash.



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