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.
Old men saunter in to down a beer,
and harness their dogs under tables.
Parents and students sip pricey shots of espresso.
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.