the zagros


vashti did not want to come to dinner
mollie was busy on a jog
sunset near susa
evening near guernsey

vashti the daughter of a king
mollie a student in iowa college
a day camp intern, an enrobed queen
within a hegemonic book first line

beginning somewhere between
a gamboge cornfield and
the porous karst of zagros
the great rabbis of babylon

still worry about their own kind—
farmworkers, marauders, bearded
kings, witch-hunters, the slavemakers, sinners,
captains of industry, rhythm, rhyme

an alliance preserving the topography
of femme humiliation—-frontiers, bedrooms,
boardrooms, the margins, states of war and
peace, silvery screens, persian banquets running

away from them towards our front doors
where a hanging porch light gently sways lit
flickering fireflies slamming the hung glass
running towards it like the end of a modern poem

waiting for the last line—any color wisdom
instead just beetles wiggling flat on the porch
illuminating deposing like the green gems
perched in the aigrette tiara of a forgotten queen


Artwork by Ernest Normand, “Queen Vashti Deposed” 1860

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