the empires of old

the empires of old
are tattoos on the skin
dark blue

I wear his hat to work
like a jaded sailor
come to some indescribable country
to pick pockets and make love
and forget everything

I sleep on his bed
and am infected by his dreams
the buildings his slippers

the monuments, renamed
still tower over us
we have to work at forgetting them

underneath the city
where there are other cities
we throw our shit and forget

but on other days you can see them
the emperors of old
like children on a train
looking out the window at the sun
and the vistas towering over them

we archivists know all
which is to say,
all now is lost and we retreat
and all the careful records
in languages people are afraid to read
record our great losses

some say the character of the men is the same
and the women too
where you can not speak of them
where you are afraid to look
where the boat of the soul
rises up
in all dimensions at once

Robin Wyatt Dunn was born in Wyoming in 1979. You can read more of his work at Read other articles by Robin.