The peaceable kingdom is a stone room
filled with corpses, a menagerie of jars,
large eels swallowing the lives that killed them.
And bones, pinned and wired, everywhere
the posturing of those who would lie down,
if not for us, for the skeletal glory
we give the bat, the monkey, the mastodon
who lifts his ivory burden to the sky.
We know, of course, his burden is illusion.
But in a corridor of dead birds, dead songs
do what dead songs do. They pull us in.
They lure us through the underworld of no one
in particular, where grief is dead grief,
where marvels are impersonal. Imagine
the human specimen, posed with his rifle,
Homo erectus, seen here on vacation.
Are we better than that, or too familiar,
our beloved exiled, embalmed in spirits
and last rites. Do we seal our final letters
in blood, sent to a place that no one visits.
If history has a heaven, a second wind,
is it this: a museum full of laughter,
a boy posed with his head in the open
casket. The jaw, the camera, the silent roar.