Tuesday, August 13, 2019


As Notre Dame Burns . . .

I am cleaning house
hoisting a mighty brass lamp
to sweep away
the accumulated dust
of eons . . .

A stupefying crash
the end of something.

The lamp’s base has rotted, fallen out
lies in
scattered fragments
humpty dumpty

This massive lamp was
a lighthouse
guiding us to safety

a thousand years of Western civilization
crashing down
burning up
the center cannot hold

vast chunks of glacier
calving off

England, Hungary, Turkey
spinning apart
the new Europe
the new world order
the ancient civilization
the global Empire
liberal democracy

Our house a rock
sheltering our tiny family
on a colossal foundation
built in 1952
when gleaming rows of proud houses sprouted
on acres of cement

from the ashes of war
build anew
. . .

Toss away
this bronze lamp
among the ephemera
of a new world order
built on commerce
a foundation of sand

We order anew
Amazon Prime
for a billion junkies
flotsam from China’s million factories

a foundation of
cheap labor

Our house, our marriage
unshakeable foundation
in Rockville, a rock
impervious (for now)
to flooding, landslides, heat waves, hurricanes, tornados, malaria, Lyme disease, measles, fear-mongering, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, shootings, bombings, torture, slaughter

Rockville, all American town
sanctuary city of a hundred thousand migrants
Hondurans, Guatemalans
Ethiopians, Iranians
Koreans, Chinese, Indians
Sri Lankans
Americans in a flash

The smoky remains of the ancient cathedral
wavering yet proud
an ancient skeleton

Somehow, a miracle
The crown of thorns
has survived the blaze

now each of us must wear it.

--Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman’s poems have appeared in BlazeVox, Burgeon, Loch Raven Review, Mad Swirl, Madness Muse, Ramingo’s Blog, Under the Bleachers, Setu, and Winedrunk Sidewalk, as well as the anthologies The Music of the Aztecs, Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love, and Narwhal’s Lament. He is co-founder of It Takes a Community, a Montgomery College initiative that brings poetry to both students and local residents. In addition, Ethan is founder and producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on EarthTalk.org.

this poem is soon to appear in Madness Muse

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