Merchant traders of Ancient Rome   –
Sharp clean-toga entrepreneurs
Seeking out fresh dealerships in Asia
Encountered matriarchal tribes
Of elephants migrating their monsoons   –
Rain-season saw them detour by Kashmir
Through fields of the opium poppy

Pausing there for several days
Luxuriantly wallowing in flowers
Crushing pulp and juice
Beneath their lolling weight
Pressing and imbibing poppy wine

When turning ancient faces to the sun
The spiral circles on their trunks
They raised as if presenting royal rings
On creation’s original dreaming
Pre-human Tree of Life




Our Gladiatorial Game Show
Grants contestants fifteen minutes fame

Catch your loaves of bread at Intermission
Good Roman bread entirely free

While Senators retire
To revise the worth of your money




Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer






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