Category Archives: Alexander the Great

“Hamlet Asks”

“Hamlet Asks”

Hamlet asks if she is honest, if she’s fair;
The question does perplex the lady staring
At him while it happens that she’s wearing
His improprieties, while it happens on the stairs;
He frequents passages in what is advertised as home.
Still the question’s moot, Ophelia has no real idea
Of what it’s like to be a thing of less than beauty cursed; she’s a
Little foreign to the notion that one roams
Beyond the confines of what is truest north—
There are but two poles proffered by Gertrude as her husband’s only clues
And north must  be somewhere near the stove,
Her safety just beyond the storage bin that holds the spoons and forks―
No, she’ll pass on both the question and his gifts to what’s beyond the arras;
Rich gifts do not wax floors, nor is this prince so careless. She’s seen the banks,
Below, the river’s malcontent; above,
the winds’ reeds’re resonant
With restive cycles in all those reasons. So many eyes intent
On recognition of what’s lately seen when all is rank.
Still Hamlet gathers evidence back and forth along the way. Her prince questions nothing honed from stationary life;
He does not own a life whose questions never fade
Remaining here but seconds in his needling days
Of endless desert silences in a crowd or in audience to an empty city’s sirens.
That one is here implies that everyone else is there along the far horizon
Beyond the accidental mistaken substance dreams and death. Ophelia slept,
No mystic talisman comes to thwart the fall; His promise he has kept
To weed the present  neglected fallow fields and lighten pressures of neon nights.
In his peerless flight is knowing nothing of this life and spending his days in sporadic search for what in death poor Yorick must have felt.

.

Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.

HORATIO

What’s that, my lord?

HAMLET

Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’
the earth?

HORATIO

E’en so.

HAMLET

And smelt so? pah!

Puts down the skull

HORATIO

E’en so, my lord.

HAMLET

To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may
not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
till he find it stopping a bung-hole?

HORATIO

‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAMLET

No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

William Shakespeare
[1564-1616]

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, ActV, Scene 1

“The Defendant Is a Child”

“The Defendant Is a Child”

The defendant is a child grown thick and heavy
In the womb landing mere inches
From the starting gate.  His guarantees,  his clenched
Fist and a gnashing of teeth, ingrown levies’
Gains against the winds, hidden antecedents as we knew them,
Family damned as were the rule of generations.
Friendships, grave degrees inured to hesitation
Now become misbegotten global monsters, stem
Cells to a thing that spawns all former empires,
Confederations, states, and sovereignty, itself, expired,
Null and void, contumely ripped from ancient boils fired,
Assaulted, violated covenants rent thrice in two, his twin spires
Levelled to the ground, and he declares that bread is now unleavened.
Mothers gasp as he praises God for what took place on 9/11. Even an Alexander finds his borders within etherial folds endemic to any practicing god
But God.  He has no need to practice,  no emphatic caul  to breach
With his own fingers and the limits of his teeth.
The Macedonian finds no outlines made by footsteps or the trace of toes
In sands he’s called his own  (as well he might)  because
He finds no greater force or urgency other than his own breath within this world
To thwart his purpose, no! nor greater banner  to unfurl
To curb a multitude of sins, no blatant flaws
Within him to cauterise the blood of his own afterbirth because he stood
Before a mother and a father both circumspect within themselves
Gainsaying natural selection in the wake and weight of countless shelves
Of history, both wore laurels in a world no better than it should
Be sated upon earthly immortality.  This Dhul-Qarnayn points to the sky,
At last and says, “It’s yours! By all the gods!” and dies.  Minor prophesies of course arrest intentions while the majors
Send condolences from the playing field to the drawing boards.
Who doubts the hoards
Of wisdoms summoning all wizened pagers
To alarm and preëccupation at the water cooler, the watchman to his bed
While even leaders meet on holidays? They do not rest,
These Olympian prodigies  amassed in pods and dressed in their egregious best
Within the clouds of baseless hubris as corrosives bleed the lead
That lines the public coffers and endless goblets. Petrels in a line dance elect
To withhold judgement while their instincts never flag in downward spirals
Of loopholes, pernicious soot that lags behind the countenance of viscous viral
Stars grown cumbersome in the spasm of sunrise, now redundant in the deck
That stacks the wheels of Vegas and the halls of Washington.  The meek
Inherit all the earth while what they breathe is but a notch above the ideals of Gormenghast and wonders of the noxious gas of mass deceit.